It’s no secret that private schools use athletics as a platform to increase both enrollment and student engagement. In fact, many students would never have the opportunity to participate in a varsity sport if not for the accessibility offered by smaller private schools. What sets Heritage Christian Academy (HCA) apart from many schools is that HCA also views athletics as a tool for ministry. Volleyball coach Peyton Kirk sums it up this way. “I have a voice and a platform and sometimes it goes beyond volleyball. As coaches we are not only teaching students how to be competitive athletes, but also how to handle difficult situations and how to live out the Gospel.” While Kirk’s message of ministry applies to a team, it’s also very personal. She states, “I want to be that person who says, ‘I believe in you’ in case no one else does.”
That message gets through to the student athletes as well. Abby Vigneulle is a 2018 HCA graduate heading off to Troy University this fall. She was a four-year letterman on Kirk’s team. “Coach Kirk constantly reminded us that we were doing more than just playing a game,” Vigneulle says. “During time-outs, even in the most tense of situations, she would remind us that volleyball was a gift that we had been given and that we needed to use it for God’s glory.” Vigneulle goes on to describe how Kirk’s message was passed on through them. “There were several times when I walked back onto the court after a time-out with Coach’s words going through my mind, only to hear an opponent across the net yelling at one of her teammates about how poorly she was playing. A few of us would take it on ourselves to encourage that player. We definitely felt that we were sharing the Gospel with our actions. The looks in the faces of those players was proof that our words of encouragement had hit home.”
“We want to teach competitiveness, hard work, consistency, courage, discipline, communication and teamwork – all lessons our students can carry with them the rest of their lives,” Kirk adds. “Our goal is for students to develop as athletes as well as children of God,” – a goal to which all of HCA’s coaches, teams, and teachers aspire.
2290 Old Tyler Road, Hoover, AL 35226