“Big Time Athletics” & Myth-Busting in the Christian School


Skyler Sandry

I’ve played basketball in small environments throughout my whole high school and collegiate career. I received recognition on the state level for athletic accomplishments in high school, and was even ‘All American’ two times in college. Throughout these accomplishments, it wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable or fun without the concept of “big time athletics.”

The general idea of big time athletics is that regardless of the level of competition, which sport, or how many students the school has, you give the student athlete the experience they would get at a large public high school.

This is important on a few different levels:
Level 1: recruitment and retention of student and non-student athletes.
Level 2: the overall experience for the student athletes.
Level 3: the overall experience for the non-athletes that attend the school.
Level 4: the overall experience for the faculty, staff, and families.

Creating a culture of excellence that honors God is extremely difficult and requires a level of intentionality that involves the whole team, coaches, and school administration. One of the biggest reasons I am personally trying to implement this philosophy at Morning Star Academy is to give the students the memorable experience that I had.But it is also my hope to retain them in the promotion from junior high to high school.

Historically, Morning Star Academy has lost students during this natural transition due to parents wanting their children to get a “real” high school experience. Interestingly enough, this “real” experience can happen at Morning Star, with the implementation of something like “big time athletics.”

Not only will big time athletics enhance the program on a competitive front, but it also attracts more student athletes, which increases the enrollment numbers.

We have a unique experience at Morning Star Academy in that we are able to focus on Christ and what He did for us, while giving students a very similar athletic experience to what they would receive at a school like Bettendorf High School. A hidden secret about Morning Star is that we have a co-op agreement with Bettendorf, which means if we don’t offer a sport that the student wants to play then they can play it at this neighboring school while maintaining their classical Christian education here.

I believe that a heightened level of attention, detail, care, and effort towards our athletic programs will have a direct impact on enrollment and deepening the student experience; something we should all strive for. The ultimate goal is to honor God through all that we do. We can assure this happens when we keep Christ as the top priority.


Skyler Sandry is a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch and also coaches the men’s varsity basketball program at Morning Star Academy. He and his wife Rebekah have two sons, Tatum (2 year old), and Canon (4 months old). Skyler played high school basketball at Morning Star, at Judson University for freshman year of college (which is where he
became a believer), and then transferred to Emmaus Bible college for his final 3 years of basketball, and graduated with two degrees in Biblical Theology and business administration.

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