The Woodlands Christian Academy Magazine: The Future Looks Bright
THIS WASN'T THE FIRST TIME THE WOODLANDS CHRISTIAN ACADEMY MOVED UP A CLASSIFICATION IN TAPPS, BUT IT CERTAINLY FELT DIFFERENT.
Last fall, the Warriors jumped from 4A to 5A in all sports, which presented an entirely new challenge – how to compete with the best competition in Texas?
"This was a massive shift in the maturity of the other programs we were playing," TWCA Athletic Director Randy Hollas said. "We knew this was coming…and that it was going to have a profound effect on athletics."
The Warriors, though, had no intention to ease their way into the new level of competition. They wanted to compete, and win, immediately.
In its first year of 5A competition, TWCA racked up an impressive number of achievements that include three state championships (boys cross country, boys basketball and boys golf), eight district championships (boys and girls cross country, volleyball, boys basketball, girls soccer, boys golf, boys and girls track) and playoff appearances from every program at TWCA.
That list doesn't include baseball, which at the time of publication was competing in the TAPPS 5A Division II semifinals.
This success didn't come overnight. The Warrior athletics program has been gradually building for years, something that Hollas and the entire department has invested a lot of time and effort into.
"What we know here is that we have a captured audience from the time they're in kindergarten up," Hollas said. "We know that we can take our athletes and start to introduce them to sports and fundamentals and culture very early. We started 'Warrior Leagues' (youth sports program) because we want our kids who come up through elementary to compete in our varsity level sports."
The Warrior athletics staff and the school's Senior Leadership Team believe that investing in their students is the best way to build a successful program. Over the past several years, TWCA has added a dedicated athletic period, brought in strength and conditioning coach Tim Walker and built a new weight room in order to instill a "culture of training" among Warrior athletes.
"That's how we compete with places that go outside of their school to bring in talent every year," Hollas said. "We embrace the challenge to grow our own."
Head volleyball coach and Assistant Director of Athletics Kori Parker echoed that sentiment.
"Adding the girls into the athletic period was the first big step we took toward success," she said. "It provided year-round training and consistency, both in the weight room and on the field or court. The expectation from the kids in our program is 'this is who we are, now.'"
Both Hollas and Parker also agreed that having a consistent group of leaders – both players and coaches – has allowed them to "keep doing what we know to be successful, while tweaking small things that we want to improve," as Parker put it.
"I believe we have the best run athletic program in the state," Hollas said. "It's a constant challenge to find the right group of coaches that get on the bus and all work to the same program goal. The group we have now work well with each other, support each other, they care about each other and have sincere care about whether everyone has success. That is extremely unique in sports."
Now, the challenge for TWCA is to build on the success it has enjoyed, something that Hollas doesn't take lightly.
"We're going to continue to do what we do well, but we're never ever going to stop looking at ourselves and think that we've arrived," he said. "I was told early on that you always seek to become better. You never rest on your laurels."
For Hollas, this includes seeking advice from successful programs across the state, internally accessing how each team within the program can get better, finding best practices and thinking creatively on how to grow the Warriors' success both on and off the field. "We want TWCA to be a place where our athletes advance to the collegiate level, in whatever sport," Hollas said.
"We also want to seek relationships with Ivy League and east coast schools that have higher profile academic institutions that fit what we do here academically."
Hollas, Parker and the entire Warrior athletic program know that the days of easy competition are over. Every game in district and in the playoffs will feature an opponent that is talented, organized and ready to compete.
"The days of state championships and district championships are going to become more special now," Hollas said. "We're ready to work to make those happen as often as possible."
While the Warriors won't let themselves think they've "arrived," the rest of TAPPS should know by now… TWCA is here to stay.