ONE COACH: Crafting Warriors through mission projects

Spartanburg Christian Academy Cross Country team. Photo Courtesy: https://twitter.com/infopublicd1

You can tell a lot about the priorities of a coach by taking a look at their team’s mission statement.

For the coaches at Spartanburg Christian Academy Warriors in Spartanburg, S.C., they crafted a mission statement that gives their student-athletes a target for them to mirror in their lives.

“The mission of SCA Athletics is to fulfill the ultimate mission of Spartanburg Christian Academy by promoting academic success, pursuing athletic excellence, and by demonstrating Christ-like character both on and off the field, court, and course,” as taken from the SCA website.

Actively attacking the mission statement, SCA cross country head coach Steve Conway, used the Spartanburg Christian Academy cross country invitational to help fund the team’s mission projects. Rather than charging for admission, the fee is waved and those in attendance are asked to donate to the mission projects. This year the Warriors zeroed in on  a neighborhood elementary school and helped continue the legacy of a teacher who died in the summer.

“We always do a mission project every single year,” Coach Conway said to Go Up State.com. “We try to do something different. Three years ago we started collecting snack food for needy kids from Hendrix Elementary School, and the response was overwhelming. Our kids just went bananas for it. We hated not to do that again.”

Hendrix Elementary School has a high number of students receiving free or reduced lunch. The SCA students make ‘blessing bags’ filled with snacks that are given out during the weekends for the elementary students.

“This year it seems bigger and better, Hendrix kindergarten teacher Shannon Pace, the mother of two SCA runners, said to Go Up State.com. “It’s going to be an awesome opportunity for us, and we’re very thankful for it.”

But the second half of the mission project came to the doorstep of Conway. His friend Jeff Pierce, a fellow school teacher at neighboring Inman Intermediate, was killed by a motorist while riding his bike in July. To make matters worse, Jeff’s son Chandler was at cross country practice at the time of the accident. A couple weeks later, Coach Conway asked Jeff’s wife Renne what he could do to honor her husband.

“I told him the FCA at Inman Intermediate was a passion of Jeff’s,” she said to Go Up State.com. “At the end of the year, when they ‘graduate’ to middle school, the students who attend are presented with a special Bible. When the accident happened, I knew that was what I’d put in the memorial. I knew I wanted to continue to help provide those Bibles. When they emailed me and told me what they were planning, I just cried. It’s so humbling.”

So a donation drive was started and more than $1,000 were raised by Chandler’s teammates, exceeding the initial goal of $300. The actions from the students touched Renee, knowing that the legacy of her late husband would continue. But most importantly, it shows the importance of what happens when coaches give sight to their athletes with a mission statement that’s aimed to win on an off the field.

“These kids want to do something. They want to help others, they just need a venue, said Conway to Go Up State.com. “That’s what we provide them.”

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