The timing might finally be right for Greenwood Christian Academy athletics.
On Feb. 2, a vote conducted at the Johnson County Athletic Directors Association meeting will determine if the Cougars take part in county tournaments beginning the 2017-18 school year.
GCA, a three-sport high school when it opened in 1999, presently offers 14 sports sanctioned by the Indiana High School Athletic Association.
Casting votes will be the county’s other six high school ADs — Jon Zwitt of Center Grove, Dave Walden of Edinburgh, John Regas of Franklin, Rob Irwin of Greenwood, Justin Ray of Indian Creek and Ken Sears of Whiteland.
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Greenwood Christian Academy athletics director Dan Carmichael presented his school’s case earlier this month.
“Back in February of 2014, they approached us wanting to seek affiliation with our Johnson County tournaments,” said Center Grove assistant athletics director Scott Knapp, president of the Johnson County Athletic Directors Association.
“At that time there was different administrative personnel, and (GCA) wanted to only be part of certain tournaments that we hosted. It was decided we wanted to see if their athletic department fields more programs where they can be a part of all our sports tournaments.”
It was concluded the ADs would eventually revisit GCA’s situation.
On Jan. 5 in Greenwood, Carmichael spoke while the other county athletics directors listened.
Greenwood Christian Academy starts a girls tennis program — and possibly boys tennis — next school year. These would be the fifth and sixth sports added since Carmichael became AD before the start of the 2011-12 school year.
This would enable the Cougars to be represented at every Johnson County tournament with the exception of wrestling and boys swimming.
“I feel Dan has done a great job getting the numbers up,” Knapp said. “We’re all competitive in all the sports, but (the ADs) all support each other from an administrative standpoint.
“When we look at the big picture, we want to do what’s best for the kids of Johnson County.”
Greenwood Christian Academy didn’t win a team sports sectional in its first 14 years.
However, since the start of the 2013-14 school year the Cougars teams have produced a total of seven titles in four different sports.
Carmichael feels this is relevant.
It’s one thing for the Cougars to have a specific amount of athletics programs. It’s another to say some of those have sampled postseason success.
“Did we want in before? Absolutely. But I didn’t really look at the whole picture. Facilities are still a little bit of a problem, but I think the other schools are willing to work with us,” Carmichael said. “I think we can host certain events.
“Competitiveness-wise, now I think we’re more competitive than we were years ago. We now have more conference championships under our belt, sectional championships under our belt, and more sports. Now we legitimately can be considered to be in the county (tournaments).”
He feels another positive is GCA’s standing as a member of the Pioneer Academic Athletic Conference, an affiliation that goes back to 2009.
Greenwood Christian Academy has also made significant strides in scheduling larger high schools. As an example, boys basketball faces five Class 3A teams and one 4A opponent during the current regular season.
Jamie Satre is in his 12th season as the Cougars boys basketball coach.
In that time, Satre has led the program to 98 victories, helped it transition into the annual state tournament — the first sectional game was a 91-30 loss to Morristown during the 2006-07 season — and celebrated its peak moments three years ago when GCA advanced to the title game of the Martinsville Regional.
What he hasn’t done is coach a county tournament game.
Satre would like the opportunity, mainly because of the young men he coaches and the community that supports them.
“I think it would be great. I remember where we came from, and it’s been a process to try and prove that we’re going to be here for years,” Satre said. “This is just another step. Another part of the process where we’re trying to progress our programs.
“I know that our kids would really like to be in the county tournament and would feel good being included in it.”
Carmichael felt more confident during his recent presentation to the Johnson County athletics directors than in 2014. However, depending on how the other county ADs vote, Greenwood Christian Academy might continue to play the waiting game.
If so, Carmichael plans to eventually return with more data, possibly more students and likely more sports.
“I was more nervous years ago trying to get in, but now I realize more of what they wanted. The timing is great for GCA because our enrollment for the last five years has seen high percentages in growth,” he said.
“We can now be fully committed to more sports, and I think we’re more competitive to the larger schools.”
A closer look at Greenwood Christian Academy and its athletic history:
1999-2000: School established; three varsity sports offered (volleyball, boys soccer, boys basketball)
2009-10: Cougars join the Pioneer Academic Athletic Conference.
2013-14: GCA wins first-ever sectional championships (boys soccer, boys basketball and baseball).
2016-17 school year: Fourteen sports offered.
2017-18 school year: Fifteen (and possibly 16) sports offered.