This fall, Oasis Academy’s athletics program will hold its first games as part of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.
The Bighorns will play in Division 1A, joining schools like Austin, Carlin, Mineral County, Pyramid Lake, Sierra Lutheran and Virginia City among others. Oasis athletics director Dusty Casey said they would also play a mix of schools from Division 2A.
This first year, however, won’t be like other seasons. NIAA policy has new schools on a two-year probationary period — called Independent Status — and they do not play in regional or state playoffs.
“They’ll continue to monitor us over the two-year independent status,” Casey said. “Assuming we’re making our games and we still have facilities, then we’ll just roll into full membership.”
Everything else will be the same, though, and the Bighorns will be official members of NIAA. The teams will play a full regular season with all the benefits of membership.
Oasis Academy’s NIAA sports will include cross country and girls volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter, with girls softball and boy’s golf in the spring. They will still offer lacrosse as well, though it is not an NIAA sport. Casey noted the list is subject to change in the future.
He also said, looking forward, they could eventually move into Division 2A. The AD noted Oasis’s enrollment is just under the minimum to qualify for 2A and they could grow into it in the next couple years.
“We’re on the upper end of 1A, for sure,” he said.
Casey and Oasis Academy principal Melissa Mackedon agreed this is a big step for Oasis since it gives students a more complete, “top notch” academic and athletic experience. Mackedon said families in Churchill County seem to value academics, but also want their students to participate in athletics and other extracurricular activities.
Casey said everyone is excited about the development. He said everyone from school officials to students and parents are looking forward to the new season, and added they had approximately 80 percent participation in extracurricular activities during the early enrollment day at the end of the school year with sports being especially popular.
Casey said the other schools in the league are also excited about Oasis joining the NIAA. Oasis, along with other new schools in the association, provide more opportunities for smaller schools to play during the year.
Mackedon said it’s a little disappointing they won’t be able to do a championship run for a couple years. She noted, however, the parents seem to focus more on academics being a priority and Oasis has consistently high ACT scores.
“That’s what parents value the most,” she said. “Putting their kids through a program where, at the end of it, they’re academically prepared to go to college.”