It was a little over a decade and a half ago when two mothers approached me about the possibility of the church I served at the time, Trinity Fellowship, establishing a Christian school. I had thought about it before but the problems always seemed insurmountable.
Nevertheless, here were a couple of ladies who were willing to do the hard work of seeing if such a project was even feasible.
The church board gave its cautious approval and, in the fall, Trinity Christian School opened with just 17 students in grades K-3 with the second and third grades being combined. A school board was appointed, tuition was kept ridiculously low, and teachers were paid $8,000 a year, barely enough to cover their gas and meals. Sunday school rooms served as classrooms and the sanctuary doubled as the school auditorium.
It was assumed that the school would eventually go through fifth grade and then students would enter the public school system.
Secretly, I nurtured a fantasy that, someday, the school would go all the way through high school and have everything a public school could offer, including sports — especially football. It seemed silly at the time, considering the very modest beginnings.
A couple of years later, I moved on to another church but the school, under excellent pastoral and school leadership, continued to grow. The goal of having grades K-5 was met and surpassed. Tuition, still kept lower than most other private schools, was raised and teachers were better paid.
New school buildings were built. The middle school grades were added, followed by high school. The student population would grow to exceed 800 students on two campuses and varsity sports would include basketball, baseball, volleyball, cheerleading, soccer, golf, and softball.
A few years ago, Dean Demos, the principal at the time, offered to show me the plans for the new school expansion. It took me a moment to realize what I was looking at but, suddenly, I exclaimed, “That looks like a football field.” Mr. Demos smiled. Then I nearly shouted, “You’re going to have a football team!”
Sure enough, Trinity Christian High School was going to field a varsity football team. The Lions would begin with 8-man football and dress out players from the seventh grade through high school. Later the school would also field a middle school team.
From the beginning, the team established a winning tradition and would soon come to dominate its division.
The first time I attended a game, my expectations were low. After all, back in 1966-68, I played varsity football for Dobyns-Bennett High School of Kingsport, Tenn., which has the most wins and the most state championships of any football team in Tennessee high school football history. DBHS is a large school in the 6-A category, so I knew about good football teams.
However, if I expected a “sand lot” football experience at a TCHS game, I was greatly mistaken. The hitting was hard, the games tremendously exciting, and the crowds abundant and spirited. Urged on by the crowds, the school band and the cheerleaders, the team won game after game.
A few weeks ago, I attended a game to watch Trinity play a team that came with an 8-1 record. The Lions destroyed that much vaunted team by the score of 61-20. This will likely be the last season of eight-man football for the Lions of TCHS. Plans are to step up the pace and field an 11-man team as early as next season. But the season isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot.
Last year, TCHS won the regional title and did the same this season. This Saturday, the TCHS Lions, sporting an undefeated 12-0 record, play for the ICSGA state football championship in Loganville, Ga.
If the past is any indication, the game will be hard fought and well played. It will be the last game of the season and I expect that, as they have all year long, the Lions will roar.[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at email@example.com. The Trinity Christian School website is www.tcslions.org.]