The West TN Homeschool Sports and Activities (WTHSA) association information meeting that was held on Thursday, September 8, in Jackson opened a new chapter for homeschoolers in West Tennessee. Several families attended the meeting to learn more about the new organization that will provide opportunities for homeschoolers to play competitive sports. It gave WTHSA Director Lance Cummins a chance to discuss the development of the association and learn how it could best meet the needs of the students and families it will serve.
Although HomeLife Academy (HLA) initiated the steps required to create the association and hosted the meeting, the WTHSA is not an HLA organization.
“We have had so many families express the need for a sports program for homeschoolers in West Tennessee,” said HLA Administrator Angela McKee, who credited HLA mom Tambra Mellorn for setting the wheels in motion. “HLA having its own team would compromise TSSAA eligibility for HLA students and also would limit the teams to HLA students only. Neither of these is in line with the heart of HLA and therefore was not an acceptable option that would serve all homeschoolers in our area. Still, we recognized the need, so HLA stepped in to provide support for the start-up and further development of this association, which is open to all homeschoolers in West Tennessee.”
Lance was impressed with the turnout at the meeting, which he considered to be a good indicator of the need for the association.
“One thing we are really looking for is the parents and the families. They are the ones who are going to be making the teams. We are here to set up everything and to get it going,” said Lance. “They (parents) are the ones who are going to be running it as coaches and board members. The WTHSA is going to be guided by the families that are members of the organization”
The guidelines that are being written for the association will follow closely to those of the National Christian Homeschool Championships (NCHC) and the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) to allow the athletes to play and be recognized at a competitive level. The WTHSA will be affiliated with the Tri-State Christian Conference (TSCC) for the first year. Under the TSCC, the WTHSA will be allowed to create a variety of sport teams and participate in competitive play more quickly as it is beginning so late in the school year.
“It is going to be a little more work at the beginning, but it will be easier for teams to form in the future,” said Lance. “Basketball and volleyball are two sports that have received the most interest, so we are starting with those. Brian Eubanks will be coaching the boys’ basketball team and Bryanna Cash will coach the girls’ volleyball team.”
Since the association is just now starting, many of the games will be played out of the area, because most local teams have already set their schedules for the season. Practices will be held in the Jackson-Madison County area where the two teams will be based. As the association grows, the hope is that teams of all sports will be formed in cities across West Tennessee and will be under the WTHSA. That will benefit homeschoolers across the region and allow them to form teams in their own communities. The addition of more teams will increase competitive opportunities for the athletes.
“This will benefit my son. We are in Dyersburg and they do allow homeschoolers to play at the school, but they don’t love it. They allow it,“ said SailAway Learning & Academy parent Steve Smith, whose son loves soccer, baseball and football. “This would give my son an opportunity where everybody is happy with it. He’ll have a lot more opportunities with sports. Plus being with other homeschoolers as opposed to a group of kids who all know each other at a regular school will help him.”
HLA mom Janice Stewart started homeschooling her seventh grade daughter and fifth grade son this school year. She came to learn more about the girls’ volleyball team for her daughter and about football, archery, skeet and swimming for her son.
“I am excited about what is happening. The possibilities are endless. Even though there might not be a team right now, I think they’re right. Once we start getting teams established, then everyone is going to be like ‘they really did it’. ‘Okay, I want to do this and I think it is going to get big’,” said Stewart, who played point guard at Trenton High School and is considering applying to coach girls’ basketball. “I think I could share the enthusiasm, the love of the sport and just being a good team player. We had a lot of rivalries between our schools and sometimes, it was taken too far. The love of the game kind of got lost in all of that.”
Students interested in joining either the girls’ volleyball or boys’ basketball teams will be required to tryout. That will help the players as well as the coaches to assess the playing level of the student.
Parents who are interested in being coaches and/or being a part of the WTHSA board or a council member will be required to go through an application process. They will need three letters of reference – one personal, one coaching/leadership and one spiritual. One of each is required. All of the items must be submitted to Lance Cummins. There is also an application for prospective coaches and prospective board members that must be completed.
Lance is encouraged by the response from parents and the support the WTHSA has already received from HLA. He was also pleased representatives from the West TN Homeschool Association (WTHEA) attended the meeting to learn more about the sports program, so they can give students the information they need.
“We are just kind of going in whatever direction God leads us. We are seeing whoever shows up and wants to be a part of what we are doing; just kind of let it grow naturally and organically,” said Lance. “Let God lead us in the direction and let Him control the association.”
WTHSA girls’ volleyball tryouts: Contact Bryanna at (731) 267-1658
WTHSA Girls Volleyball Sign-up Form
WTHSA boys’ basketball tryouts: Contact Brian Eubanks (731) 414-9230
WTHSA Boys Basketball Sign-up Form
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©2016 HomeLife Academy. Article by Jennifer Smeltser. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the publisher /.