Austin Vandegrift High made another appearance on the University Interscholastic League Lone Star Cup final rankings list.
Vandegrift, one of six high schools in the Leander Independent School District in Central Texas, finished seventh among 25 selected Conference 6A institutions with 67.5 points earned for the 2018-2019 school year.
The UIL Lone Star Cup recognizes six high schools (one in each of the six UIL conferences) based on their overall team achievement in a variety of sanctioned academic, athletic and music championships, according to the VYPE USA website.
LISD athletic director Jody Hormann acknowledged that Vandegrift belonged to what is arguably the UIL’s top conference, with so many campuses vying for honors and hardware every year. Southlake Carroll clinched this year’s UIL Lone Star Cup for 6A.
“Finishing seventh is a huge accomplishment in any division but with the 6A division being the largest, the competition is unreal,” Hormann told Texas Scorecard. “Although high expectations are set for VHS, accomplishments like this are never taken for granted.”
Educating students since 2009, Vandegrift is the proud winner of the UIL Lone Star Cups for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years when it was a part of Conference 5A. The Travis County school finished 16th in the 2017-2018 rankings.
“Vandegrift has been consistently ranked in the top 20 in 5A and 6A since we opened in in 2009,” principal Charles Little said.
Vandegrift head football coach and athletic coordinator Drew Sanders is amazed by the Vipers’ consistency even after moving up to 6A.
“It’s been cool to see our steady progress in our third year in 6A,” Sanders said. “After winning the Lone Star Cup in back to back years, we had set a standard to be the best in the state. We wanted to see if we could now do that in the state’s largest classification and it’s been fun to see us working towards that goal.”
He described his favorite sports memory of the 2018-2019 school year as twofold.
“As the head football coach, seeing us win our first undefeated district championship was a big accomplishment and very difficult to achieve,” Sanders said. “As athletic coordinator, I loved watching all of our sports achieve great things, but probably my favorite memory was being there for our girls doubles tennis team win the state championship. It’s always fun to see athletes achieve the pinnacle of their sport.”
Little added that “it has been extremely gratifying” to preside over a school that has seen consistent UIL and academic success and “share in the success with staff, student and community.”
“I think we were able to build our success at Vandegrift by being tenacious and adhering to our main principle: hire the best teachers and coaches possible and focus on relationships,” he said. “You only get to hire all of the staff when you open a brand new campus. This was a rare professional opportunity for a principal to hire an entire staff that is equally dedicated to academics and extracurricular success. What sets the staff at Vandegrift apart is that they all love teaching and coaching young people. They are positive, and will not tolerate negativity or defeatism. They are driven to help students achieve their goals. With the staff at VHS, I just have to get out of the way and let them do their thing. Equally important is that we are fortunate that the students at Vandegrift have an amazing level of parent and community support.”
Hormann and Little have high expectations for Vandegrift in the upcoming school year.
“Our overall expectation is that athletes always compete to the best of their ability and represent VHS with class,” Hormann said. “VHS has some very talented athletes returning in all sports so we are looking forward to seeing them in action soon!”
“I really feel like we are poised to outperform expectations next year,” Little said. “We have had some new strategic hires and allowed time for some rebuilding, and I think we will see surprise some people next year. Also, the addition of UIL Robotics, Cheer, and the new Academic scoring will allow additional programs to get to contribute to our success in UIL points. My philosophy is that ‘if one student is into it, then, I’m into it.’ To see all of our programs having success indicates VHS is a healthy, vibrant campus that is providing quality experiences for all students. I can’t wait to start the new season! Go Vipers!”