Conference Affiliation Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to questions about Holland Hall’s switch from the Southwest Preparatory Conference (SPC) to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA). The Board of Trustees voted to make the switch based on these fundamental reasons: 

  • A significant increase in missed academic days due to SPC travel compared to past years
  • Significantly increased travel demands (hours on bus, length of trips, etc.) for students and coaches and the resulting increase in stress for students
  • Increase in size of upper school student population of several SPC schools creating potentially unhealthy competitive dynamics for smaller schools like Holland Hall
  • The importance of the out-of-state travel experience can be maintained while participating in the OSSAA
  • Opportunities in the OSSAA for Holland Hall to compete for statewide recognition in several academic and arts activities
  • Investigations of other possibilities found OSSAA to be the best option for Holland Hall
  • Opportunities to be better known in Tulsa and to engage with the community 

 

FAQs

Why are we changing conferences?
Both conferences offer a myriad of advantages. As our Board members stated on several occasions, both are aligned with the school’s mission. Fundamental reasons for studying the issue in the first place were: travel demands required to participate in the SPC have increased significantly in the last ten years; significant growth of upper school student populations in Texas SPC schools point to unhealthy competitive dynamics; participation in OSSAA gives Holland Hall students increased academic time at school; OSSAA offers Holland Hall students the ability to compete in statewide academic and arts competitions; and OSSAA participation will permit opportunities for more community engagement in and around Tulsa.

When does the change take effect?
Holland Hall will begin competing in the OSSAA at the start of the 2016-2017 academic year.  We will compete in the SPC during 2015-2016.

What about field hockey?
Our first priority is to seek approval from the SPC to continue to compete in girls’ field hockey as an affiliate member of the conference. If this option is not available to us, we will explore other options within the region, including the possibility of forming a new field hockey conference. Field hockey is an important part of our culture and we are committed to continuing a strong field hockey program at Holland Hall. 

Do some sports change seasons? How will that be managed?
Yes. Boys’ and girls’ soccer will move from the winter season to the spring season. Girls’ fast pitch softball will move to the fall. Coach Heldebrand, Coach Muir, and the head coaches will work on specific plans in the coming months to explore additional options for our winter sports program.   

How will the change impact our junior varsity programs?
Our junior varsity programs will benefit greatly from the change to the OSSAA as their schedule typically mirrors that of the varsity team’s. Locally, many junior varsity games are scheduled along with varsity contests. By contrast, the travel required for SPC play has prevented our junior varsity teams from scheduling games in conjunction with their varsity counterparts.

By leaving the SPC, won’t we lose the academic benefits of being an SPC school?
Absolutely not.  While there used to be some academic partnerships between the schools (annual conferences, etc.), those have not been a part of the SPC for quite some time. The school is, and will remain, a part of the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS), one of the most rigorous accrediting bodies in the country. ISAS membership guarantees participation in the ISAS Arts Festival, annual conferences, and the like. SPC’s sole focus is athletics. Joining the OSSAA will offer more class time for our students and participation in statewide academic and arts competitions. 

Many of our alums have fond memories of the SPC.  Won’t that impact their connection to the school?
Alumni often speak of bonding and time management skills that form during travel and the rivalries with independent schools in Houston and DFW. The travel burden has simply grown too great for our students and coaches.  In the past, season tournaments occurred simultaneously at one school in DFW. Now, they are divided among multiple schools and sites in DFW, Houston and Austin. We are committed to ensuring that all sports have at least one travel experience to independent schools for play in Texas or one of our surrounding states. We believe this travel will foster that same bonding between students and coaches without committing our students and coaches to the sheer volume of travel they experience in the SPC. In this way, we hope to maintain many of our most relished SPC rivalries. Our coaches and faculty will be available to alumni in the coming months to answer any questions and assure them that we are doing all we can to maintain these historically important aspects of our upper school athletic program. 

Aren’t there more sports in the fall and spring in the OSSAA?  How will that be managed?    
The athletic department and head coaches of our fall and spring sports will work closely together to ensure that each sport has adequate support. The administration has assured the Board that there are enough student-athletes in our school to support Holland Hall’s current sports in both the fall and spring. The coaches are very supportive of each other and if requested, athletes will be allowed to participate in two sports during a season. Moreover, the change has certain benefits for sports that will be shifting seasons. Our participation in the SPC made it difficult to schedule non-conference games for soccer and softball because those sports were out-of-season for local schools participating in the OSSAA. Now, all sports (except field hockey) will be aligned with other Oklahoma teams, which will greatly assist with scheduling of games for both varsity and junior varsity. 

Basketball is the only winter sport that Holland Hall offers that’s also in the OSSAA. Won’t that mean fewer opportunities for our students?
In the winter, yes, but the overall number of sports and sports teams remains the same. Moving soccer to the spring offers our soccer players better weather for play and competition against local schools. Winter soccer teams could not play against Oklahoma schools simply because they were out of season. With a decision now in hand, Coach Heldebrand and his staff will work in the coming months to review our athletic policies and procedures, as well as consider alternative sports offerings in the wintertime, to ensure our student-athletes have more than one option for the winter season. This is a high priority for the school and will be approached diligently and methodically.

Will Holland Hall’s focus on growing more diverse be stifled by this move?
Absolutely not. The SPC and OSSAA have remarkably similar policies with respect to admission requirements not favoring those with more athletic prowess over any other student. The OSSAA allows independent schools to admit students who are mission-appropriate and in line with the composition of the student body desired. As was the case in the SPC, students with specific athletic interests must go through all of the same admission steps as one with less athletic interest. Playing more locally will likely have a positive impact on our ability to attract mission-appropriate students from varying background

A number of our graduates play college athletics, how will that be impacted?
The committee’s process included an interview with a college athletic director. He shared that exposure for our student athletes would likely increase in the OSSAA, which could result in more opportunities for our student-athletes in college. Keep in mind that most of our students who play college sports play at the Division III level, which does not permit athletic scholarships. College recruiters will remain deeply interested in great athletes who are also great students.

I’ve heard the Board of Trustees decided to stay in the SPC then met again and reversed its decision. Why?
The Board’s initial vote was designed to give Holland Hall time to explore all alternative options to the SPC, not to permanently remain in the SPC as it exists today.After the initial decision, the Board sought input on alternatives from coaches and faculty. Based on that feedback, the Board called a second meeting to hear more directly from the coaches, teachers, the athletic director, and the school’s counselor on: (i) the current realities of the SPC, (ii) other options that the Board had discussed pursuing, and (iii) how a move to the OSSAA might benefit the school. Upon receipt of this feedback, the Board decided that other options it had contemplated were too uncertain to merit remaining in the SPC any longer and voted to apply for membership in OSSAA.

I’ve heard a number of letters were sent by parents on both sides to the Head of School and Board after its first announcement. Were these the reason for the change in vote?
No. The decision to meet again stemmed completely from the Board’s ongoing investigation, which included feedback from the coaches, teachers and administration.           

Will the change from SPC to OSSAA impact college admission opportunities for our students?
Absolutely not. Admission Deans from several colleges and universities of various sizes and selectivity, among others, affirmed that a switch would have zero impact on admission decisions or opportunities for our students.

Will we be able to retain our rivalry with Casady in Oklahoma City?
Yes. Casady has been fully informed during our process. We look forward to many more games between the Dutch and the Cyclones!

Is it true that private schools who have success in the OSSAA are moved up a classification?
Yes, that is true, but after having conversations with local schools and viewing Holland Hall’s enrollment, it is believed that we will be able to remain competitive in our assigned classification. In no circumstance would we move up more than one level.

Did winning drive the decision to change?
No. Both the SPC and OSSAA offer environments for great interscholastic competition. The OSSAA will allow those competitions to be local or within our state and with schools of similar size. Joining will reduce the amount of travel and missed class days for our students, as well as the mismatch against much larger schools. Our teams will have to continue to work extremely hard on and off the field to be successful. 

Will the change to OSSAA affect girls’ sports more than boys’?
The change to the OSSAA will add one more girls’ sport, softball, to the fall, which already offers field hockey, girls’ volleyball, cross country, and cheer. These sports currently involve approximately 50% of our girls. All coaches are aware of the addition of softball to the fall and have assured the administration that they will be supportive of each other. With softball moving to the fall and girls soccer moving to the spring, we will have the same number of girls’ sports that we do now in the spring.  As previously noted, we will work with our coaches to identify additional options for the winter sports season. 

In what classification will Holland Hall participate?
Holland Hall will be a 3A or 4A school. Football and, most likely, basketball would begin in 3A, whereas boys/girls soccer and boys/girls tennis would be 4A because that is the smallest classification for those sports. Currently, the largest 3A school has 491 upper school students. 

How many private schools are in the OSSAA?
Currently there are 22 private schools in the OSSAA. Twelve private schools have joined the OSSAA since the last time Holland Hall studied its conference affiliation membership.

Was the growth of some of the Texas schools a concern for remaining in the SPC?
When Holland Hall joined the SPC in 1967 the schools were all very similar in size and, for the most part, the schools maintained similar enrollment until the early 2000’s. Since 2005, several schools in the SPC other than Holland Hall and Casady have seen a spike in enrollment. Due to the high volume of applications at some schools in Dallas and Houston several are strategically looking to increase their enrollment in the next five years to 700 to 800 students. 

How many trips and days of school were Holland Hall student-athletes missing?
If you compare Holland Hall’s travel schedule to our peer schools in Dallas/Fort Worth, our schedule is much more of a college-type travel experience while theirs resembles a high school experience. The Dallas and Fort Worth schools only travel to Oklahoma once every other year per sport, while Oklahoma schools travel to Dallas/Fort Worth a minimum of three times per sport each season.  The chart below demonstrates that Holland Hall’s total number of SPC games out of town is much greater than other SPC schools. This results in not only more days traveling, but also more missed schools days. This has gradually changed over the last 40 years as the conference has expanded with the increase in the number of mandated SPC games. This year Holland Hall will make 21 total trips to Texas and have 17 ½ academic days disrupted where 10% to 30% of the student body is not present.  A more concentrated look shows that some students and coaches will miss 25% of the academic days in April, the month prior to AP exams, due to travel. 

 

OUT OF TOWN SPC GAMES 2014-2015

 

Holland Hall

Greenhill

TVS

ESD

FWCD

FIELD HOCKEY/GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

    8

0

2

0

0

FOOTBALL

    4

1

1

2

1

CROSS COUNTRY

    2

0

0

0

0

BASKETBALL/SOCCER

    8

3

3

5

3

BASEBALL/SOFTBALL/TENNIS

    8

0

2

0

0

TRACK FIELD

    1

0

0

0

0

      

TOTAL OUT OF TOWN SPC GAMES

    31

4

8

7

4



 

NUMBER OF MISSED SCHOOL DAYS

1970's

1980's

1990's

2000's

2010's

FIELD HOCKEY (Fall)

  1

2

3

4

6

FOOTBALL (Fall)

  2

2

3

3

5

BASKETBALL/SOCCER (Winter)

  1

2

3

3

5

BASEBALL/SOFTBALL (Spring)

  1

2

3

4

5

      

 

What are some of the differences in the SPC today compared to 10 or 20 years ago?
The growth of the SPC to 19 schools has divided the SPC into a north and south zone and, with 11 schools in the north zone, forced more SPC games during the season. Boys have nine SPC regular season games, while the girls have eight regular season games. Travel used to be more equitable as Dallas and Fort Worth schools came to Oklahoma each season for their in-season SPC games.  Now, these schools travel to Oklahoma only every other year in each sport.  Further, the SPC originally offered a festival-like tournament at the end of each season in the DFW area, which was then a more central location for all schools.  As sports became more competitive, the SPC designed a Division I and II bracket for all sports at the end of season tournament so all schools could participate. This past fall, the SPC shifted to only the top six teams in the north and south qualifying for the SPC tournament. The remaining teams stay home.  The 12 team championship bracket also results in more missed classes.  

Why has the SPC moved the SPC tournament to various locations?
The SPC has shifted the end of season SPC tournaments to Austin in the fall, Houston in the winter, and Dallas/Fort Worth in the spring. As schools have grown and built new facilities, they want to showcase their school and contribute to hosting a championship on their campus.  For this reason, not only has the tournament expanded to different cities, it has also expanded to multiple schools hosting a season tournament.  The days of the tournament being held at one site unfortunately have come to an end.  It takes a lot of work to host a championship tournament so schools only want to do it one time a year. For Texas schools, the distribution of sites does not result in significant travel issues the way it does for Holland Hall.  

Why are only the top 12 teams included in the season ending SPC tournament?
The SPC chose to eliminate the Division II bracket in all sports because of the demand it placed on securing officials, field/gym availability, and a growing lack of interest from schools who were not contending for a championship. The SPC designed a 12 team bracket to include a few more teams, but this caused a third day to be added to the tournament-- another missed day of school for students and faculty coaches. 

How have changes to the SPC tournament affected Holland Hall over the last few years?
The increased travel to Houston and (soon) Austin causes an extra day of travel and another missed school day for each tournament. Though the new structure of the bracket allows all qualifying teams a chance to win a championship, it greatly favors the top two seeds, which receive byes in the first round. For example, our girls’ soccer team played three games within 24 hours this past winter. For a team with very little depth, we were at a significant competitive disadvantage in the semifinal game to ESD, which had only played one tournament game.

Will more of our students and community be able to attend games if Holland Hall joins the OSSAA?
The move to the OSSAA will greatly increase the opportunity to support our teams in regular season games.  Moreover, it will make it much more feasible for the Holland Hall community to support its athletes in post-season play, if that occurs.  Holland Hall has won 84 SPC championships--a majority of those have been played in front of only the players’ parents. For example, several years ago, our softball team won its third SPC title in four years.  This feat was witnessed by only one Holland Hall student who was not a player on the team.  One of the things that makes Holland Hall a special place is the support that our students provide for each other.  We believe the switch to OSSAA will make it easier for the students and the Holland Hall community to support our student-athletes, as well as enabling our students to participate in the various arts and academic opportunities that OSSAA offers.

What are some of the transfer rules for student-athletes in the OSSAA?

  • All incoming 9th graders are eligible to play regardless of home address. This is a new rule that the OSSAA adopted this past year.
  • Holland Hall will have a district encompassing both midtown and south Tulsa. This district will only be used for students who transfer to Holland Hall after the start of their ninth grade year.If a student transfers to Holland Hall who does not move into the designated Holland Hall district, the student will be ineligible for varsity athletics for one calendar year. The student is eligible to play junior varsity sports.
  • Students may compete for eight consecutive semesters in high school.