Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Football

December 13, 2012

CCA, homeschool students head in different directions

CLEBURNE — The football team representing Cleburne Christian Academy the past three seasons, consisting primarily of homeschool students, will no longer be affiliated with CCA. The homeschool students and CCA are going their separate ways after the two sides agreed it was in each group’s best interest.

“The school decided they wanted to go in a different direction in regards to homeschool programs and wanted to focus attention more on the private school,” Lions’ Coach Jimmy Stanford said. “The change of that direction changed our direction. My original direction was always to have a place to give kids an opportunity to play sports who were homeschooled.”

The majority of the football team and other homeschool students who were associated with CCA will now join the newly formed Johnson County Lions Sports Association.

Cleburne Christian Academy Principal Eddie Baca said it is good for both sides.

“We want to serve the kids that in our school building and they want to serve the kids in the homeschooled community,” Baca said. “While they’ve been here the last three years they’ve done a really nice job. They’ve been a blessing to the school and we hope the school’s been a blessing to them. I think it’s a good thing that they’re able to offer this to Johnson County, and I think it’s a good thing for our school to be able to establish an athletic program of our own at the secondary level, so it’s a good thing all around.”

Stanford said the relationship between the school and the homeschooled students started about three years ago when Stanford and others started a homeschool football team. That summer, the kids were attending CCA under a homeschool program. Stanford said former administrator Bill Ritz wanted a football team, but didn’t have enough players, so Stanford’s group of homeschoolers came in to represent and play for CCA, and the two merged together.

“They wanted to focus more on private school and the kids attending there,” Stanford said. “We decided at end of the year it’s best to separate. We’re forming the Johnson County Lions Sports Association. That will provide a place for any kid who wants to play sports that doesn’t have the opportunity, such as kids who attend private schools that don’t have athletics or homeschooled kids. It’s a different provision there that will reach more kids. It’s going to be a definite win for both sides.”

CCA is in the process of becoming accredited and is trying to work its way into TAPPS, and Baca said the direction the school is going fits this new change.

“I think when we got here in June, the direction for our school was to go into TAPPS and to be able to have a program for the kids that go to our school,” Baca said. “We want to have our efforts and focus on the kids that are enrolled here. I think it’s going to give them a real identity and give us a real identity in who we are as a school and as an athletic program. I think it’s going to be exciting for both sides. It’s a win-win for both groups.

“It’s at a point right now where it’s probably best to go our separate ways and to prosper on an identity of our own. I have nothing but good things to say about those guys that were in it and to the coaches. I thought they did a great job. I have nothing but positive things to say about them.”

Baca said the school is looking at the possibilities of extending its facilities to include more resources for athletics, and that CCA’s goal is to have a solid athletic program for its students.

“We want to have a truly outstanding program here at CCA,” he said.

While the school is focused on improving its athletic program and moves toward giving its own students preference in athletic opportunities, the Johnson County Lions Sports Association is also looking to expand.

Jamie Stanford is the athletic director for the new association, while Jimmy Stanford is the president, Mark Midkiff is the vice president and Paul Wallace is the treasurer. Stanford said they are getting things started and are accepting applications for softball and baseball teams.

“We’re starting now,” Jimmy Stanford said. “We still have a lot of work to get done to get the entire program up and going. We’ve already started sign-ups and looking at starting softball and baseball in the spring. We’ll also have track in the spring. For fall sports, we’ll still have football and volleyball, and then basketball later in the fall. We’re hoping to add additional sports as the need arises.”

Jimmy Stanford and Midkiff co-coached CCA’s football team this season, and with them forming the JCSA, Baca said he plans to take the reins as CCA’s head football coach.

Stanford said the JCSA will remain a part of the Texas Christian Athletic League. CCA is also still a part of TCAL, but Baca said that may change.

‘We’re going to see what happens here in the spring and see where we are and make that decision then,” Baca said. “We’re TCAL now. And they’re TCAL also.”

Stanford said the JCSA is not intended for Johnson County only.

“It’s Johnson and surrounding counties,” he said. “We’re not going to restrict that. There are opportunities in Tarrant County that exist for them but there’s nothing south of Tarrant County that offers anything for kids to do. You’re either public or private school or you don’t get to participate. This can cover pretty much anything out there as far as whatever a parent is willing to do. I think this will allow us to reach more kids. I think a lot of people may have thought that you had to go to school to be a part of us. This will remove that misconception. For CCA, I believe it will allow them to focus more on school and building [their athletic program] from within.”

For students interested in joining the JCSA, there will be a yearly membership fee of $75 and an additional cost for each sport the student chooses to play. Each sport will be priced differently. TCAL insurance will be included in the $75 membership fee.

The JCSA, like CCA, will remain Christian-based and all its coaches will be volunteer-based. Stanford said anyone interested in helping coach is welcome to inquire.

The JCSA football team will continue to play at the Cleburne Sports Complex and their mascot will be the Lions after CCA is in the process of deciding what to do for its mascot.

“We’re having those conversations right now on what we’re going to do with that,” Baca said. “We’re talking about which direction we want to go with that as far as keeping it or starting our own mascot. Of course, we’ve got a new direction for our program so it may be the right time to do that.”

The football team for CCA has had a successful run the past couple of season as the Lions made it to the state championship last year and the state semifinals this year, and Stanford said that with the exception of one or two players, all of the students on that team were homeschooled. They will lose five seniors who will graduate in the spring, though, including star linebacker Chris Stanford.

“I’ve been getting a lot of emails and calls, so I have a feeling we’ll be growing,” Jimmy Stanford said. “We’re receiving lots of interest.”

JCSA doesn’t have an official Website up yet, but they have a Facebook page under “Johnson County Lions Sports Association—JCSA.”

For more information on CCA, visit ccacleburne.org.

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