By Wil Crews
Jason Scott is a father who just wants his homeschooled kids to be able to play the sports they love.
He and his wife have five boys – all homeschooled. As some of their boys grew older, they realized that after age 13, most kids are aged out of the city’s local recreational sports programs. So, after years of contemplation, and with the help of friend Mike Adams, the Scotts decided to start a new athletic program of their own.
“There are opportunities to play here and there, but nowhere to call home,” Scott said. Well, now there is.
Southern Christian Athletics was established for Lee County middle school and high school students who are either homeschooled or attend private schools. As of now, Southern Christian has a varsity and junior varsity 8-man football program – of which Adams is the head coach and Scott the athletic director – and a junior varsity girls’ volleyball team. They also have plans to make up a basketball team, baseball team and more.
“We weren’t going to do football; we were going to start with boys’ and girls’ basketball,” Scott said. “But we have some friends who wanted their senior boys to have a chance to play football.”
So, Scott decided he was going to make that happen, even if they were already behind the curve. What Scott did not anticipate was how difficult starting a football program from scratch would really be. “Starting with football was probably the biggest mistake of my life,” Scott said. This is not because of his lack of commitment to the students and athletes, but simply because of the magnified scale that football is on in the south. “What it takes to start a football program off the ground with nothing, it’s an incredible undertaking,” Scott said.
This is evident in the setbacks that Southern Christian has already fallen victim too. Whether it was trouble finding people to play or trouble getting equipment shipped in – even though FedEx kept saying ‘they are on the way’ – they have continued to find solutions in order to put a product on the field.
“When you had not had a fundraiser, and registration money hasn’t filtered in yet, when you order 27 sets of pads, helmets, girdles, padded shirts, the whole deal, A-to-Z, it adds up quickly,” Scott said.
Luckily, some friends and one friendly Riddell sports equipment employee were nice enough to help. Southern Christian received seven loaner pad sets from Scott’s close friend and Beauregard head coach Rob Carter, and Riddell was nice enough to give them half credit for all their orders. Still, Southern Christian is just now making up the numbers.
“We just got our final shipment of pads this week,” Scott said. “[Our first game] is against the most physical team in our league, Evangel Christian School from Alabaster. We will be highly outnumbered.”
But none of that really matters. Scott, who coached at Ballard Christian for 15 years, is just happy to give homeschool students the opportunity to play and is looking forward to Southern Christians inaugural season.
“Part of the psychology of homeschooling, is that there is not a lot of socialization,” he said. “Sports can help kids to do that.”
Southern Christian plays 8-man football that is similar to full 11-on-11. The only differences are: only five linemen instead of a possible seven, and there is no kicking extra points. Teams can gain one point by running a play from the three-yard-line or two points by running a play from the five.
Southern Christian plays at Moore Stadium on 7th Avenue in Opelika. “We are very thankful to the City of Opelika and the Parks and Rec department, without them we wouldn’t be able to play,” Scott said.
The Southern Christian varsity football schedule features seven and began this past Friday. The junior varsity girls’ volleyball team has already played four matches, splitting them with two wins and two loses.