It’s Wheels Up For Wheeler

new york skyline

Congratulations are in order twice for the Wheeler Wildcats. Last Saturday night Wheeler beat Cobb County Rival Pebblebrook to win the Boys AAAAAA State Basketball Championship. The Wildcats other victory came Wednesday when the Georgia High School Association reversed it’s field and granted permission for the new state champions to go to New York to play in a national invitational tournament that would determine a national champion.

The Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Invitational Tournament will be played in New York April 2-4. The tournament’s aim is to bring the top 8 teams, if available, to one location to play for a national championship. Wheeler’s win last week at Macon moved the Wildcats to 6 in the USA Today national rankings, earning the invite.

This did not sit well with the GHSA who had a long standing rule that didn’t allow teams to compete in an organized competition once the state finals were done. With the state’s governing body saying no, it looked like Wheeler would miss out on the trip to New York and a chance to represent Georgia in a prestigious event.

That’s when something amazing happened. The Wheeler student body, Wheeler alumni and the community that surrounds the school joined together to launch a social media campaign and petition signing drive.The campaign was so strong that for a time Wheeler was trending on twitter.

I simply love to see this type thing happen. For me it’s very comforting to see “The Playstation Generation” put down their consoles long enough to stand up for something bigger than themselves.This caught the attention of the state legislature and the Wheeler Wildcats became the topic of a passionate appeal to the GHSA to let Wheeler play in New York.

I get a little concerned when our governing fathers and mothers get involved in what is supposed to be child’s play. Last time I remember that happening then House Speaker Tom Murphy supported legislation that resulted in the GHSA establishing a rule that forced private schools to mathematically increase their enrollment that would forcethem to compete in a higher classification. All high school athletics in the state of Georgia went through an adjustment because of not football, not basketball, or baseball , but wait for it …… Debate Team !!! Let’s see by a show of hands how many of you knew that debate team was a varsity sport…..Uh-Huh, just as I thought. Speaker Murphy’s daughter-in-law was coach of the Bremen debate team and they could never get past private schools like Lovett and Pace in their state tournament.But, we are talking basketball this time , not debate.

Somehow I can’t help feeling that if the Dick’s Invitational was a post season football event and a team from South Georgia,oh let’s say Valdosta or Colquitt was invited, the conversation would never have gone on as long as this one did.The rule would have been changed the day the invitation was sent.

wheeler champs

You see,football will always be number one in the state of Georgia. The rest of the nation already knows that. Wheeler will be the first team from Georgia to participate in this national invitational event.Let’s hope they go to New York and show the nation that we play a pretty mean game of roundball here in Georgia.

Thank You GHSA for taking a step back to take another look and make the right decision. It’s wheels up Wheeler. Good Luck Wildcats !!

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