School sports move to 3A division for 2023-2024


Photo by Erik Kleisunback

Senior Matthew Serrano scores against 3A Damascus during the past soccer season.

Heading into the 2023-2024 school year, all school sports will be in the 3A division. Previously, all of our sports had been competing in the 4A division.

The MCPS divisions are dependent on a school’s population. According to Athletic Director Alton Lightsey, enrollment has dropped. Because MCPS divisions are based on population the school is not expecting a jump back to the 4A division unless enrollment changes. “Unless we get a big jump in enrollment. We could yes, It depends,” Lightsey said

Despite this change, there aren’t any new schools whose teams we will play next school year. For example, football will still compete with some 4A schools in the regular season. “There aren’t new teams. There are only so many 3A schools. Each sport is different. We are 4A/3A west. For football, we will play Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, Magruder, and Watkins Mill,” Lightsey said

Regardless of this change in the division, teams are likely to still play rivals such as Churchill.“Most likely we will still play our rivals,” Lightsey said.

For our teams, playoffs will be different. In the playoffs, teams may have to travel farther distances. “We will play different areas of the state. We still have to win in our division. We will play 3A as opposed to 4A if we get out of our division” Lightsey said.

Junior varsity soccer coach Evan Hoppman coached through the 2021 and 2022 seasons. He said that being in 3A will bring new challenges. “I think the move to 3A will be a new challenge for Wootton soccer. It gives us the opportunity to test ourselves against teams we typically have not played in the past,” Hoppman said.

Teams in 3A will bring a lot to the table. Schools in 3A still have solid programs. “Having played soccer at Rockville High School myself I know that the division is very competitive and full of good soccer programs. We can expect tight matches and high levels of competition from all the teams we will face,” Hoppman said.

Hoppman says the move to 3A will not have much of an effect on team strategies. “I do not think our strategy and preparation for games in the new division will change; we will assess the opposition as best we can and prepare a game plan to win as we have always done,” Hoppman said.

Although the teams will remain challenging in 3A, playoff success could change for the better. “It’s never easier to win games. No. Some sports like girls’ and boys’ soccer will have an easier path,” Lightsey said.

From Hoppman’s perspective, the teams in next year’s schedule shouldn’t have a direct impact on a team’s record. “In our sport, any team can win on any given day so I do not think the division change alone will affect our record, and we hope to win every game we play no matter who the opponent is,” Hoppman said.

For athletes, the priority is to win games no matter what division the school plays in. “Competition in 3A is still very good. We must work hard and stay focused. I hope to bring home a state championship,” sophomore Toby Subiela said.