Bell Creek Academy head basketball coach Chandler Elsner inspires students on and off the court.

In 2017, Chandler Elsner graduated as part of Bell Creek Academy’s (BCA) first graduating class. Bell Creek Academy is a charter school in Riverview that is recognized for its high standards for academic achievement. BCA has an innovative academic environment that includes being part of the Cambridge program. By design, BCA provides teaching techniques to meet the individual needs of students.

The focused attention Elsner received in high school gave him the skills to follow his passions. He graduated from Florida College with a Bachelor of Arts in history in 2022. That same year, Elsner returned to the school as the first alumnus to be on staff as a teacher. This year, Elsner took the helm as the school’s head boys’ basketball coach, taking over a program that won its first 3A District 7 championship in 2022.

The principal of Bell Creek Academy, Dr. Margaret Fahringer, said the milestone is both sentimental and profound. Elsner’s academic success plays out firsthand on campus and is an asset to the school.

“The great thing is, Chandler came through in our atmosphere of high expectations. We work very hard with our expectations. He was raised with it,” Fahringer said. “He is one of our youngest teachers and he has a very good rapport with the students. They respect him.”

Fahringer said Elsner’s roles as both coach and teacher enable him to teach dedication to goals. BCA head girls’ basketball coach Charles Leadingham witnesses Elsner’s success on the court and in the classroom next to his. He said Elsner’s leadership skills are evident in the way he dedicates himself to his students and players.

“Coach Elsner genuinely cares. He is organized and knows how to make learning enjoyable for the students. I know there’s an added layer of pressure when one returns to their alma mater to teach or coach, and coach Elsner is doing both well,” Leadingham said.

Elsner’s decision to teach evolved in college while pursuing a history degree. Inspired by his aunt, teacher Deanna Ingram, he decided to apply his love of history in the classroom.

“I found in studying history there are no shortcuts. You have to take time to process the information you are given,” Elsner said. “That has made its way into coaching basketball and my classroom. I adapt the lessons from the past.”

Elsner’s past at BCA includes being a student and basketball guard. From basketball to the classroom, he embodies the academic rigor of the school and the passion he learned from his favorite coach.

“The one coach I pull from the most is my dad. I pull motivation from him and getting kids to not only believe in you as coach but believe in themselves,” Elsner said.

Elsner is the first alumnus to return to the school as a teacher and head coach. His legacy will be his passion to work to the betterment of whoever is in front of him.

Bell Creek Academy anticipates a great first year with Elsner as head basketball coach. Elsner will lead the team passionately to honor former player Elijah Payne.

“The Bell Creek Panthers are dedicating this season to our teammate, friend and leader, Elijah Payne. Elijah will be greatly missed. BCA plays for 33 this year!” said Elsner.

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