It is finally September, and athletes must adjust to the regular flow of practices in preparation for the KAIAC tournament at the end of the season. This year, the organization has introduced changes in its tournament structure that will affect all divisional sports, including tennis, volleyball, basketball, and soccer. The new system marks a major departure from past tournaments and allows athletes to compete with a wider range of opponents.
“I do not think that the change affects the team that much because we are already in the best division,” said Ryan Kim (11), varsity tennis player. “Honestly, I suspect that it could mean more wins for us. At least we will get to see other international schools in the tournaments. I always wondered why we never got to see GSIS or KIS there.”
In previous tournaments hosted by KAIAC, schools only faced off against schools from their division. For instance, the SIS varsity tennis team only played against schools from the blue division: YISS, KIS, SFS, TCIS, and SAHS. Schools seldom played against schools from other divisions; some friendlies happened, but they were few and far between.
“People were complaining how some schools never have opportunities to play stronger teams,” said Ivan Atanaskovic, volleyball coach. “For example, one school was dominant last year in [varsity]boys soccer. They were looking for more competition and wanted to play against other teams rather than playing the same teams over and over. Likewise, [the SIS varsity volleyball team]played against KIS twice last year in the conference and once again in AISA; that is too many.”
Starting this fall, KAIAC will only host interdivisional tournaments. At the end of each season, all schools will play in their respective divisions. After they finish their seeding, they may qualify for two different tournaments: the “Cup” or the “Plate.” The Cup is for higher seeds in each division, whereas the Plate is for lower seeds in each division. The new system will provide opportunities for more interaction between divisions that generally did not play against each other.
“I believe that this is a great step forward,” said David Suh (11), varsity tennis player. “Traditionally, KAIAC athletes have competed in an overly meritocratic system, and I am glad that it is gone. The change promotes a very wholesome environment in which all athletes are equal to each other. More importantly, it allows them to compete in a much better environment to foster more competition and improvements in skill.”