Fresno Christian High School
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Small school atmosphere enhances athletics

Playing sports for a Division IV or V school differs in many aspects from schools from higher divisions. Common disadvantages such as a shortage of participants, smaller players and random farm-town competitions may not seem appealing. However, despite these challenges, many athletes on campus defend the school’s athletic atmosphere.

Last year, head football coach Bonner Cunnings transitioned from coaching at a public high school to FC. Since the course of his first season here, he has noticed several differences between the two environments.

“Having been in both public schools and Christian schools, I see that the unity of the team is the primary difference,” Cunnings said. “How can a group of boys unite to be successful when they are not united in spirit, mind and body?”

When a new season starts at a public school, athletes may find themselves having to undergo rigorous training to beat out the 20 other players who want the quarterback position on the varsity team.

At FC, however, the only requirement to make the team is usually simply going out and playing the sport. Although typically everyone who tries out will make the team, that person can be demoted to junior varsity if his or her abilities fail to satisfy.

Senior Andrew McCormick, who has played sports for the school since elementary school, says the campus environment is beneficial to students who may not have been able to make the cuts of a large public school.

“It’s easy and fun playing because you do not have to earn your spot on the team; you’re just on,” McCormick said. “The focus is pretty much always on fun and having a good time.”

However, according to athletes, one of the tough parts of playing for a small school are the competitors. It can be intimidating when the opposing football team has twice as many players and the guys are massive in size.

“When we played Army Navy in basketball this year we were all intimidated at the beginning of the game,” David Wells, ’13, said. “We knew we couldn’t beat them but towards the end we decided to throw those thoughts aside and play our best and we didn’t do that bad.”

Senior Aaron Hedrick has had the experience of not just playing for a small private school but also a public high school. Before attending Fresno Christian, Hedrick played football, baseball, soccer and wrestled for Kingsburg High School.

“It’s very different playing for a large public school,” Hedrick said. “The teams are much bigger and so are the players, but it’s good because more fans come to the games and there is more school spirit. But I prefer playing for Fresno Christian because I can play the positions I want and I have an awesome relationship with my coaches.”

Hedrick says that sports at Kingsburg were more difficult and demanding. However, this difference can also motivate athletes to work harder for their teams.

“You’re playing with a lot more kids, so your spot is never guaranteed on the team; you have to work for it,” Hedrick said. “There are a lot of cuts made at the beginning of the season and it makes you work harder.”

Despite the hard work motivation of public schools, campus athletes also cite relationships with coaches and teammates as an important factor for small-school athletics. Assistant football coach David Dixon says he values the relationships he has with his players and loves the opportunities he gets to share his faith with them.

“It’s awesome to coach at a small school because you get a chance to know all your players well and share your faith with them,” Dixon said. “That is the best part of coaching at a Christian school.”

The teams at FC tend to go beyond player-to-player relationships which is much more important in the eyes of many Christian athletes They build each other up and keep each other accountable.

“At FC I have seen relationships develop into a true spirit of brotherhood through Christ-centered athletics,” Cunnings said. “Lives have changed for the better because of the commitment to serve each other, just as we serve our God.”

For more information on campus sports, read the Girls’ basketball sport shorts, 2009-10, Part II and Baseball sport shorts, 2010.

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    Lori MascarenasJan 29, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Yeah Team Schoettler/Rurik/Neufeld! How about staging an exhibition rematch?