Beginning in fall of 2019, Spurgeon College will participate in intercollegiate sports for the first time in school history.
With collegiate facilities now in place on campus and with the hiring of a head coach, the process of forming a men’s basketball team is fully underway.
In April, Midwestern Seminary’s trustees received plans to field sports teams at Spurgeon College, and the school hired Philip Parker as the basketball team’s head coach. Additionally, on May 13, the National Christian College Athletics Association officially accepted Spurgeon College as a member.
“We can’t be more thrilled to announce the launching of a men’s basketball program at Spurgeon College,” said President Jason Allen. “Many factors have come together to make college sports a possibility, including the completion of the Mathena Student Center, and we count it as another reminder of God’s kind providence and blessing upon our institution.
“We are deeply grateful to the NCCAA for their partnership in bringing intercollegiate athletics to Spurgeon College. We appreciate the focus of their mission, which is the promotion and enhancement of intercollegiate athletic competition with a Christian perspective. This falls fully in line with what we hope to accomplish through sports programs at Spurgeon College – to be highly competitive and win championships but to do so in a manner that glorifies God and develops young people for a future of Christian ministry and toward expanding and strengthening Christ’s Kingdom.”
According to the organization’s website, the NCCAA is an association of Christ-centered collegiate institutions whose mission is to use athletic competition as an integral component of education, evangelism, and encouragement. The organization serves its members by setting association standards, developing communication resources, providing regional/national competition, and partnering in outreach to our communities and the world. They also are committed to equipping student-athletes and coaches to make a positive impact for Christ.
Parker comes to Midwestern Seminary after a five-year stint on staff at Calvary University in Kansas City, Mo. At Calvary, he started as a student assistant and worked his way into the head assistant coach role. During his time there, Parker helped lead the rebuilding squad from a 1-20 record to a near-.500 record – including a second-place finish in the Midwest Christian College Conference regular season during the 2018-19 season.
“It’s an incredible honor to be chosen as the first men’s head basketball coach here at Spurgeon College,” Parker said. “Even before being considered for this position, I was well-aware of the growth and progression of the school and to now be a part of it is genuinely a dream come true.
“My goal for the Knights is to be the premier Christian college basketball program in the country, not only because we win, but because we train student-athletes for life and godliness in ways no one else is doing.”
Parker added that he’s encouraged by the excitement and energy about the program that’s building around campus and said he senses that the program will provide the campus community an enhanced experience for students, faculty, and staff alike.
Allen noted that Parker truly embodies all that Spurgeon College was looking for in hiring a head coach. “After conducting a thorough search for the right man for this position, it was clear that Coach Parker possessed all the attributes we desired in leading the team. He is a young man with great energy, knowledge of the game, and leadership abilities, but, more importantly, he desires to lead a group of young men to become passionate and effective followers of Christ. He sees basketball as an environment that’s truly conducive for discipleship.”
During its initial campaign, the team, which will be known as the Knights, will play what amounts to a junior varsity schedule. Even though there will be a varsity roster, a majority of the team’s competition will be local NAIA JV squads. This formula will enable the Knights to gain experience, to work on improving logistics on-and-off the court, and to prepare for the second year when they will join the NCCAA in Division II.
Parker noted that he’s currently keeping extremely busy by purchasing equipment, preparing the gym to be game-ready, and working on obtaining an apparel contract. He has also been spending time formulating the values and framework for the team, so that the players and assistants will know why they do what they do, and exactly how they are going to do it. This includes developing his coaching philosophy, the vision, the team’s mission, as well as the offensive and defensive schemes.
From a recruiting perspective, Parker said he’s in the process of researching Christian high schools and calling coaches. In June, he will be traveling extensively conducting home visits and meeting with coaches. He feels things are progressing well with recruiting.
“We will be announcing soon the signing of two student athletes who have committed to the program,” Parker said. “There are also several recruits visiting campus in the coming weeks and months. Through talking with high school coaches, we also have several sophomores and juniors that we will be keeping our eyes on.”
The Knights will begin play this coming fall with their home court being in the school’s newly completed Mathena Student Center. At present, 11 games have been scheduled with the first one taking place in mid-November. Parker hopes to have 15-20 games for the inaugural first season.
In addition to men’s basketball at Spurgeon College, there is the potential to add teams in other sports.
“Our hope and intention for the future is to add a ladies’ team next,” said Sam Bierig, dean of Spurgeon College. “The direction this could go would potentially be toward volleyball, basketball, or even cross-country. Additionally, as we add sports teams, we would like to explore the potential for men’s soccer. Regardless of which direction these decisions take us into the future, the start-up of men’s basketball portends exciting things to come for our campus community.”
Patrick Hudson is executive assistant to the president at Midwestern Seminary & Spurgeon College.