What Is UIL?

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UIL, otherwise known as the University Interscholastic League, has a long standing history here in the Lone Star State. Did you know it's the largest interscholastic league of its kind in the world? We're quite proud to be apart of this community. For more history directly from the source, read up on UIL here

UIL has two main categories: Athletics and Academics. While we love sports, our main focus is on Academics. 

In our terms, UIL refers directly to  the events we typically participate in. For Terry and I, these include One Act Play, prose and poetry and journalism. 


This event has a bit of a special place in my heart. Not only did I major in Journalism in college- I aspired to be an investigative journalist- but one of my favorite high school teachers inspired me to do it. Mrs. Brown was my high school English teacher at Quitman, then the teacher I taught under while I did my student teaching. She encouraged my writing and sparked a love of journalism in me. Another amazing tidbit? She continued teaching at QHS for years-long enough to teach my own daughter! Alex also found a love of the written word in Mrs. Brown's class, was a state-awarded journalist under her coaching and also planned on majoring in Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin. She later switched to Public Relations, the sister discipline to journalism. But that's another story. 

The Journalism events in UIL include News Writing, Feature Writing, Editorial Writing and Headline Writing. These all have their own set of rules and standards. The best way we find students for this brand of competition is through English classes. When a student has a great grasp of writing, the more structured tone and style of journalism is an easy transition. 

Prose and Poetry

This category of academic competition falls under the bigger umbrella of UIL Speech. We find that Prose and Poetry lends itself to the most creativity in the speech category. I'm sure some debate coaches would disagree! 

Either way, we have a fond spot for P+P.

Prose and Poetry is basically two sides of the same coin: Interpretation. It's a form of delivery different from acting but still requires personality and creativity. We have spent hundreds of hours perfecting the craft of this type of interpretation. Terry and I both have had kids compete and place at State UIL. Need some help writing an intro for a piece? We've got you covered

One Act Play

This is the theatrical arm of UIL. Almost every single public high school in Texas has a One Act Play team, making the competition level insane. Do you know how big Texas is?! As of 2015, there were 3,263 public high schools in Texas. If you multiply that by the estimated average team size (about 19) that would mean 61,997 students are involved in One Act Play every single year! 

It's a competition based on the performance of each school's team. Every show has to be under 40 minutes (a difficult feat when you realize so many of the best shows are meant to be 3 hours long) and must be a pre-approved play by the UIL OAP office. It's judged by one or three judges (a panel) and then three shows advance to the next round. The levels of competition are: 

  1. Zone
  2. District
  3. Bi-District
  4. Area
  5. Region
  6. State

There's much more rules and standards to adhere to within One Act Play. Need some more info? We're writing a blog about it as we speak! 

This is what we sink the majority of our time into. It has become much more than simply producing a show for us. It's a way of life! One Act Play, frankly, is why I love teaching so very much. I get to work with incredible student actors and help them cultivate their love of the arts. It's a very rewarding - and exhausting- endeavor. There's a beautiful quote about theatre that I always think of when describing OAP to someone: 

Theatre is the most masochistic and remarkable art form you can participate in. It tears you down and builds you up all at the same time.

We know, we know. It seems a tad dramatic. But if you've ever put in hundreds of hours and late nights in with hard-working students, let your dreams ride on winning a title, then be cut at Area or Region, you know exactly what we're talking about.