Often the only factor used to determine the success of a team is the number in the “wins” column. At Columbia Adventist Academy (CAA), however, there are two other factors that loom larger than wins.
The first one is how well the mission of the team is carried out. The mission of the team is “to instill honesty, integrity and respect, but above all to teach our students that they can take Jesus Christ into all aspects of their lives.” That mission is the focus of the devotionals at the beginning of the practice, the focus of the practice and, most importantly, the focus of all games. The second factor CAA desires to have front and center at all times is showing other teams what a Christian athlete looks and acts like.
The Friendship Tournament at Walla Walla University was an opportunity to test the importance of the mission. Sometimes when the team is in a “building year” and doesn’t perform with a large number in the wins column, it appears the officials and sponsors of the tournament try to make a team feel better about their lackluster performance by awarding them the sportsmanship award. So when CAA received that award this year, there were some who credited it to that, rather than to the team modeling Christian behavior both on and off the court. However, CAA has frequently been the recipient of that award with no pattern of it corresponding to a low number of wins.
Then CAA won their division this year in basketball and went to the playoffs — another tournament and another chance to live the mission and model Christianity. Validation for the players' work ethic, practices and “never say die” attitude was received when, for a second time in the same year, the team was awarded the sportsmanship award, having won both their division and the first round of the playoffs.
That wasn’t the only award though, as the quality of people coaching the students was recognized by the league. CAA’s athletic director and coach, Jay Pierce, and the girls' coach, Laurisa Pearson, were named Coaches of the Year. The CAA family is proud of them not only as CAA’s coaches, but also as alumni. They represent the quality of people that CAA is producing.
Not only did the coaches receive awards, but the award for the league’s Most Valuable Player of the year went to Matthew Rodriguez, class of 2016. “Our team is so young this year that I didn’t expect to go this far," Rodriguez says. "I’m really proud of the dedication they’ve shown to exceed everyone’s expectations.”
Rodriquez was honored and also humbled that an article written about the team and his award appeared on the front page of the sports section in The Columbian, the newspaper for Vancouver, Wash.
And so the tradition of excellence in Christian education continues at CAA on all levels. The staff and students are glad God can be glorified in their spiritual and social activities as well as their community service, academics, music and athletics, as that’s their mission.