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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)
EVANSVILLE — The Indiana High School Athletic Association has granted Evansville Christian School's athletic programs provisional membership.
That means Eagles varsity teams are allowed to compete against IHSAA schools, but they will not be allowed to participate in the postseason for four years until they are approved for full membership. The provisional period is effective immediately.
"It's big, especially because we have a K-8 that directly feeds into our high school," ECS high school athletic director Paul Dunham said. "For a lot of our kids who are great athletes, it shows them we are positioning ourselves for them to stick around. We'll be able to provide a quality athletic experience for them."
ECS, which opened its high school off Epworth Road last year, applied to join the IHSAA in June once it had met the requirements, which include having a freshman and sophomore class, offering both boys and girls sports in all three seasons and paying the $2,000 application fee.
The high school offers three sports for both boys and girls — cross country, swimming and track — as well as girls soccer, volleyball, boys basketball, cheerleading, and it hopes to field a baseball team in the spring.
"We had a cub team last year, but still don't know if we can pull it off this year," Dunham said.
ECS is growing one grade at a time. It will graduate its first senior class after the 2019-20 school year, but currently only has students ranging from kindergarten to 11th grade.
There are roughly 55 freshmen, 20 sophomores and 15 juniors. The current eighth-grade class has about 80 students.
"The talent is in our K-8," Dunham said. "The question is: can we keep them here?"
"As long as we can keep the kids here, we're going to be strong in Class A," he added.
He hopes ECS can retain more of its students when they reach the high school level by offering IHSAA-sanctioned sports. For instance, five members of Castle's boys' soccer team that finished as the state runner-up last year graduated from eighth grade at ECS. So did three all-Southern Indiana Athletic Conference baseball players.
If you build it, they will come. Or, in this instance, stay.
"There's no doubt we're going to be pretty strong in some sports," Dunham said.
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