Knights chart new athletic path

Published 12:47 pm Thursday, September 7, 2023

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For the first time in many years, Terra Ceia Christian School’s athletic teams won’t be a part of the Tar Heel Independent School conference. However, the rivalry with neighboring Pungo Christian Academy will continue.

The Knights have joined the Mid-Atlantic Christian Athletic Association as a provisional member, which has 20 schools, including three from southeastern Virginia, split into four divisions of 1A and 2A schools.

That’s a significant change from the six school TIC, which included the Knights, Raiders, Ridgecroft, Albemarle, Northeast Academy and Lawrence Academy.

Terra Ceia, with a K-12 enrollment of 153, are in the 1A South Division with Ahoskie Christian School, Heritage Christian (Zebulon), Mt. Calvary Christian (Hookerton), Calvary Baptist (New Bern), Pamlico Christian (Bayboro) and Unity Christian of Chocowinity. The schools will play each other home and home in most sports.

The 1A North Division includes the three Norfolk-area schools, two from Elizabeth City and one from Askewville, who will be available as non-conference opponents.

TCCS has been looking at making a move for a year and half and athletic director Caroline Gardner said the time was right.

“It’s a better fit for our school from a competitive standpoint and because all are Christian schools with similar values,” she explained. “Being a provisional member gives us (and the conference) a year to see if it’s the right fit. Having more teams means more flexibility with schedules and it lets our kids visit new places and play different competition. The travel is also about the same, just in different directions.”

The Knights compete in cross country, volleyball and have 15 boys on the soccer team this fall after not having one last year.

“I’m glad it’s back” senior Seth Meijer said. “I missed it last year after playing as a sophomore, so it’s been fun. We have a lot of young guys on the team this year, so it’s my job to teach them sportsmanship and help them improve. Soccer is my favorite sport, so it’s nice to get to play my senior year.”

Senior Lily Jefferson has played school volleyball since seventh grade, which gives her six varsity seasons. The team captain has noticed a difference in the competition so far.

“Overall, sportsmanship is better,” Jefferson said. “It’s a more friendly competition and it seems like the other teams are about the same skill level, at least so far. I like going to different places my last year and it’s been a lot of fun so far.”

Cross country coach Brandi Cagle has 11 runners competing this fall, including seventh-grader Troy Wright, who was undefeated last fall, but couldn’t compete officially as a sixth-grader.

He learned the difference in his first meet this year, finishing second in a field of over 50 runners.

“It’s better when there are more runners, because we all push each other to go faster,” Wright said. It makes me work harder and we have more meets this year, which means more chances to lower my time.”

The Knights have 13 meets scheduled, about double the total from last year.

“We think the new association means an environment more in line with our values,” Gardner said. “We can play Christian music before games, pray after it’s over with the other team and emphasize good sportsmanship. We’re very excited.”

Gardner said TCCS continues to play Pungo Christian Academy as a non-conference opponent.

“We have been friendly rivals forever and are 15 minutes apart, so it makes perfect sense to keep playing them,” Gardner said. “Our parents always want to know when the Pungo game is.”