After 14 years of competing in the statewide Kentucky Christian Athletic Association (KCAA), the local Somerset Christian School has petitioned to be accepted into the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA).
Somerset Christian School principal John Hale, who has been in that position for the past 14 years, stated that the extensive travel to play teams within the KCAA has made it difficult to continue to stay in their current athletic league.
"We are running into a problem with the KCAA, not any fault of the KCAA, but many of the teams are leaving to join the KHSAA," Hale explained. "That has diminished the numbers in the KCAA and has forced us to make longer trips for ball games to places like Morehead, Covington, and Paducah. These are all long trips and many we can't schedule them during the weeknights, and we have to schedule them on the weekends. But even on the weekends it is still a long trip with 3 or 4 hours of driving time."
The KCAA is divide into four regions, somewhat similar to the KHSAA regions or districts. However, Somerset Christian's regional opponents are in Lexington and Morehead, which makes even their closest regional opponents hours away from home.
"We have been exploring the possibility of joining the KHSAA, but not because we think we can just run in there and be competitive with any of the public schools," Hale stated. "But we fell the switch will cut down on that travel time and be better for our students."
Hale talked about Somerset Christian's time in the KCAA and the impact it made on their athletic programs and their students.
"The KCAA gave as a chance to compete with other Christian schools, similar in size, with similar interests," Hale stated. "It gave our student athletes a chance to compete for state championships. The KCAA was a good way to get our school initiated into sports. Starting out new in the KCAA, 14 years ago, we were sort of the whipping boy in sports for several years, and got beat upon. But as we grew, our athletic programs evolved."
"As a matter of fact, we have become one of those hated schools because we have won so many KCAA state championships," Hale smiled. "Our soccer team has won seven out of the last eight state championships and even a NACA National championship. Our boys basketball team won their first state championship last year. In volleyball, we had a string of five state championships. All of these things were good for the students and good for the development of our athletic programs."
But another incentive for Somerset Christian to join the KHSAA was the formation of the Kentucky Christian Athletic Conference (KCAC) within the KHSAA. The KCAC closely resembles the All 'A', which smaller schools like Somerset High School competes in. The KCAC would Somerset Christian a chance to compete with other Christian schools at their level and size, and play in their own tourneys.
"A big emphasis for us making a change was the formation of the Kentucky Christian Athletic Conference within KHSAA," Hale stated. "Danville Christian has been involved in the KCAC and helped get it started. This now gives us a chance to be a KHSAA member and also be a KCAC member, and still compete with a cadre of Christian schools."
And while Hale realizes that his athletic teams will have a tough time competing with most of the teams in the KHSAA, the local school is looking forward to playing games closer to home and playing in front of larger crowds.
"We like the fact that we would be able to play close to home and it would also give out athletes a larger fanbase," Hale stated.
Danville Christian recently played Boyle County High School in basketball for the first time ever. Danville Christian was soundly defeated, but the small school was thrilled to have played in front of the larger crowd.
And while it is not official that Somerset Christian has been accepted to join the KHSAA, Hale feels like the local Christian school will be able to compete in the KHSAA by the next school year.
"We are not part of the KHSA yet, and it seems like the only requirement is that we are an accredited school, which we are," Hale explained. "We put our application for admission into the KHSAA in December, so that we could be considered in January. If we waited much longer than that we would not even have the opportunity to schedule ball games because everyone else's schedules would already been completed and filled."
So come next fall, we might get to see he Somerset Christian School athletic teams going head-to-head with Somerset, Southwestern and Pulaski County.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.