Thursday and Friday’s games marked the beginning for the change of speed and competition Faith will have to face all season.
It’s a speed they are not used to, but school officials are confident their tough schedule will benefit players in the long run.
Faith is playing Muscogee County district schools for the first time in the school’s history. In years past, their schedule consisted of only private schools and, for the most part, Faith was larger than most of them.
“(Other schools) may have had 150 students whereas we have 650,” Faith media specialist and athletic director Cindy Givens said. “We have not played schools that are a whole lot better than us. Now we are going to play schools a whole lot better than us, so our students are going to get skills that they would not have before.”
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Givens said the school district had asked Faith to join for the last two years, but she was hesitant, mainly because Faith could not get a long-term commitment from people to coach the teams.
However, first-year boys coach Karl Ivey met with Givens and insisted she reconsider and accept the invitation. Ivey believed it was essential for the players to obtain the skills they will need to compete on a high school varsity level.
“It makes us compete a little harder,” Ivey said. “The kids they’re going to be playing against are the same kids they’ll be playing against at the varsity level. It teaches our kids to help build character and to know what it’s going to take to work hard.”
Although Faith is playing against Muscogee County schools, it does not make them a part of the school district.
Gary Gibson, director of athletics for the Muscogee County School District, said the district is open to more schools not in the district to play district league schedules.“We’re trying to open up to any other middle schools in the immediate area because we know the competition will be better,” Gibson said.
Faith players will also have the opportunity to play more games this season. Instead of a shorter, seven- or eight-game season, Faith will play 12 games and then be able to participate in the annual Percy Griffin Tournament, which allows each team in the district to play in a single-elimination tournament until a district champion is crowned.
So far, Faith has started 1-1 in league play and although the team looked competitive in the first half of its game against Midland Middle School, it fell flat in the second half on the way to a 69-47 loss.
Still, even if Faith has a slow start this year, Ivey believes his team can improve enough to be able to surprise some people in the Percy Griffin Tournament, which will be held March 3-11. But win or lose, he said he just wants to see his team play hard and show it can compete.
“If we don’t win a game this year in the Muscogee league, I still think it’s a plus for us because it showed we got out there and we tried,” Ivey said. “It’s a building process for us.”