Emmanuel Christian School seeks to join the Alabama High School Athletic Association | High school

DAVID MUNDEE

Another Wiregrass program may soon join the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

Emmanuel Christian, a private Christian school in South Dothan, has applied to AHSAA for membership and will meet before the association’s Central Board of Control next Wednesday in a final step towards membership, officials confirmed. school officials.

ECS has participated in the Panhandle Christian Conference for nearly 25 years, including the past three years. He also made a four-year appearance in the Alabama Independent Schools Association from 2015 to 2019.

After Emmanuel Christian officials make their final presentation next Wednesday, members of ASHAA’s Central Board of Control will vote on Emmanuel Christian’s potential membership.

If approved, Emmanuel Christian would become the third private Wiregrass school in the past two and a half years to join AHSAA. Northside Methodist of Dothan joined in January 2020 and Pike Liberal Arts in Troy joined last spring.

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Emmanuel Christian, if approved, will immediately join AHSAA for the coming year, but will do so on a two-year probationary period, which means Warrior sports programs would not be eligible for competition after -season until the academic year 2024-25.

“We want to put our student-athletes in a better position to make an impact not just on the court or field, but in the community and have the chance to achieve more notoriety (playing AHSAA teams)”, Emmanuel Christian sporting director Robert Johnston said. “It gives our children a chance to be recognized more.

“In addition, the trip in the CCP is mainly two and a half to three hours (for sports competitions). We’re looking at 30 minutes to an hour for most (if in AHSAA). “

Emmanuel Christian Administrator Josh Ezell added, “We’re excited for this opportunity and the ability to move on (to AHSAA) and actually play with teams in the community.”

ECS officials said the school, if in AHSAA for the 2024-25 academic year, would likely be a weak Class 2A program in the association based on student enrollment numbers. students.

“We will of course have learning curves, but I think it will be a better decision for the school and the athletic department,” Johnston said.

Emmanuel Christian, located on Earline Road in South Dothan, plans to field eight women’s sports teams and seven men’s programs this coming year, adding golf, flag football and athletics to the list of sports at the school. The Warriors competed last year in girls’ volleyball, cross country, basketball, softball and tennis and boys’ cross country, basketball, baseball, soccer and tennis.

Johnston said he also plans to add football to the school, possibly in three to five years.

The school began the process of joining AHSAA in March and the school board approved the concept in April. AHSAA officials visited the campus for an inspection meeting last week.

“I’m very confident we’ll get in,” Johnston said. “When we did our inspection, they told all of us as coaches to start putting together a tentative schedule for this year and next year. They said we ticked all the boxes except for two items and those related to football.

Preparing for a potential move, those responsible for Emmanuel Christian have been busy in recent months.

“We’ve updated our facilities,” Johnston said. “We have a new weight room. We are working on the renovation of our gym. We will have a new court for the first time since the building was built in, I believe, 1991.”

Johnston also said coaches were more active in off-season training than in previous years to prepare Warrior athletes for the expected uptick in competition.

Emmanuel Christian was built in 1967 and joined the Panhandle Christian Conference as one of the founding members in the 1990s. The Warriors were part of the PCC until they moved to AISA in 2015, believing travel there would be fewer of them. However, after four seasons, ECS returned to the Panhandle Christian Conference, noting that travel expenses and rising costs to pay officials were nearly the same. It also fell back due to the football schedule.

“The main reason was because of the football,” Mark Redmond, then school administrator at Emmanuel Christian, said in 2019. “They (AISA) do spring football and we couldn’t field enough kids for it. do (in the spring) We were blocking a whole bunch of our kids from participating with anything in the fall and we thought it wasn’t fair to them.

“A lot of our footballers are also baseball players. We couldn’t get them to play baseball and soccer in the spring.

Long trips are still a problem for Emmanuel Christian in the CCP. All other CCP members range from Panama City to Fort Walton Beach in the Florida Panhandle west to the Mobile and Pensacola area.

Eventually joining AHSAA, Dothan School would have more nearby schools to compete with around 32 hour and a half programs, including 21 that are nearly the same size or just slightly larger in terms of enrollment of students.

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