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By Mindy Crandall
For any legendary and famous painter such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Vincent van Gogh, a masterpiece was not created in one day and for that matter, sometimes even years. The same has held true for Ava Victory Academy.
Since its beginning in 1995, Ava Victory Academy, a private, non-profit, interdenominational Christian school, nestled in the city limits of Ava, has discovered continual growth and a vision of something vivid and as beautiful as the last stroke of paint on a winning piece of art. When this Bible based academy first opened it was a blank canvas, only instructing children in Preschool and Kindergarten. Since then and with each year following, a grade per year has been added. Now Ava Victory Academy’s A-Beka Curriculum is taught to students through high school and with as much planning and precision as the color selection placed upon any treasured work of art.
In 1999, with much prayer and dedication from volunteers, Ava Victory Academy was able to offer a sports program to the students who attended. Ava Victory now offers volleyball, soccer and basketball.
The first season of basketball at Ava Victory Academy began in 1999 and was played by 7th and 8th graders only. It was only offered to boys at the time. Richard Scoville, a grandfather to a student at the school, volunteered to become coach. With no home court and with practices being held on the make-shift, asphalt basketball court outside the doors of the school’s facility it was hard for students to pick up much of a schedule only allowing them to play away games. Only five or six games were played within that year and to teams near by, such as Plainview, Thornfield and Skyline.
The next year, 2000-2001, a girl’s team was added and students in grades 3rd through 8th grade were now allowed to play. Gary Stigall offered his assistance and took on the role of the girl’s coach.
Since that time, Ava Victory Academy’s sports program has continued to grow and flourish and has been influenced by such coaches as Tim Stanton, Don Sallee and Rod Scoville. These very influential people are the bold, defined outlines of a much more recognizable picture.
In 2009, volleyball was added to the sports schedule and Don Sallee began offering his assistance to the basketball teams. Rod Scoville was also coaching both the girls and boys team and still does to this day. Ava Victory Academy still had no home court to speak of, but managed to host 7 home games at the Mansfield Community Center where they had now started holding practices.
Rod Scoville is honored to have Don Sallee as part of the coaching staff. He contributes much of Ava Victory Academy’s continued success on his coaching strategy. Rod commented by saying, “Don has been very instrumental in our success here at the school and Don and his wife, Mary Lou, are wonderful supporters.”
Also during the 2009-2010 basketball season, both a girls and boys high school team were formed and Ava Victory Academy entered into a conference Ozark Area Christian Schools (OACS), consisting of 10 Arkansas and Southern Missouri area Christian schools and homeschooled based organizations. The farthest they travel south in this conference is Harrison, Arkansas and the farthest north is Rolla, Missouri.
Last year, Ava Victory Academy did very well in this conference as the boys took second and the girls held the spot for fourth.
This year, Ava Victory Academy continued to excel as both teams advanced as Conference Champions, the boys receiving second and the girls with first. The Lady Crusaders advanced on to become Division 3A National Champions. They were undefeated in tournament play and in their conference. These teams played around 15 games this year along with several tournaments. 50 percent of the Crusaders team consist of homeschooled children who have been honored and accepted to play for Ava Victory Academy.
Just as exciting as the winning season, was the excitement of having a near by facility to host games, the MOCH Wellness Center.
Coach Rod Scoville mentioned that the public school sports organization (MISHA) has now allowed Ava Victory Academy the chance to play such public schools if asked to do so. Ava Victory Academy took advantage of this and played Bradleyville this year.
At Ava Victory Academy every student is allowed the opportunity to play sports if they maintain their grades required for eligibility. Coach Scoville tries to emphasize the idea that playing basketball is not only about wins and losses, but also showing Christian characteristics. He highly promotes Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and even mentioned an older stat quoted from this organization stating, that some 90 percent of all Fortune 500 CEO’s played high school athletics.
For this small private school that teaches just over a hundred and forty or so students, having an athletic department has not changed their focus and value of education, but rather enhanced their vision of a bigger picture. They see the sports program as another way to reinforce Christian behavior, along with teaching them dedication, commitment, teamwork and the value of our fellow teammates. It is not done by one, but as a team.
When talking to Coach Scoville I asked if any of their students had received any athletic scholarships. His reply, “No, not at this time, but we did have a former student, Kasey Cardwell, who later played basketball for a Christian college in Iowa.”
Somehow I feel that in the future Ava Victory Academy will see one of their students with an athletic scholarship, maybe due to the fact that they will have more opportunity to be seen while playing public schools.
I know that most of the students and basketball players are hoping to get a home gym on the campus and for Coach Scoville, he is waiting for the day when a former player returns to hold a coaching position.
As a parent of three very active boys, I appreciate Ava Victory Academy’s dedication and vision of adding those few extra colors to their once blank pallet, like basketball.
Even though, this school once started out offering limited activities to the students that attended, it has now gracefully tied on the painting apron, and started adding every brilliant color with gusto and a whip of a brush, each stroke perfectly applied, only to watch as their dream of a masterpiece unfolds before their eyes.
Leonardo Da Vinci had to first visualize how he wanted the Mona Lisa to appear, then with as much strength as his body allowed and as much passion as his heart would hold – saw the painting through. It is no different for Ava Victory Academy and their athletic department.
Leonardo was not well-known before he began the process of painting such precious pieces in his collection. Ava Victory Academy basketball players will be the same. It is not who they are now, but who they will become.
This should be an eye opener for all of us. God has started on His work of art, and we are lucky enough to be just a simple brush of color on His masterpiece.