Bell Shoals Baptist Academy had a sports season for the record books. They won first place in the Tampa Bay Christian Athletic League All-Around. The Panthers were dominant this past athletic season, fielding a team in every sport offered in the TBCAL.
Each athletic team received points based on how they did in the regular and post seasons. Added up all together, the Panthers received 236 points, which by far was the most points by any school in the TBCAL. The varsity soccer team was the only team that finished in first place, but every other team finished in at least third place, making Bell Shoals Baptist Academy the best all-around athletic program in their league. “I think it shows that we are at a competitive level,” said Linda Heath, P. E. and Athletic Director at the school. “It shows that we have good coaching in place, and that we’re developing athletes.”
Bell Shoals fielded a team in every sport possible, including; JV and varsity volleyball, girls and boys cross country, boys varsity and JV soccer and girls soccer, boys and girls varsity and JV flag football among others. The JV teams consist of 4th-6th graders and varsity includes 7th and 8th-graders.
“It’s a school with many different sports where all ages of children are able to play, from the inexperienced to the advanced,” said Tara DeJesus, head JV girls basketball coach. “In a Christian environment where it’s not all about winning; it’s about sportsmanship and honor while excelling in Christ’s name.”
The most impressive part of the school’s success is that most of the coaches of the sports programs are volunteers, giving their time and effort to teach the youth. According to Heath, she often hires former Bell Shoals Baptist Academy students that went on to play at the high school level to become coaches. “Armwood High School is known for football, Bloomingdale is know for a good basketball program, so when you win all-around, that means that most of your sports are doing quite well, which I think is a good reflection of Bell Shoals,” said Heath.
Heath will be stepping down as the Athletic Director next season, but will be the secretary for the TBCAL to stay involved with the school.
“I think the sports program for our young kids offers that side of life where you learn about competitiveness, but you also learn about being a part of a team and working hard, so that maybe what you do in sports will transfer into your job someday,” said Heath. “That’s the positive side of sports that I love.”