In North Carolina, Florida, and Texas, competitive homeschool sports leagues have garnered attention and respect comparable to that of public school teams. However, in most states – especially those as rural as West Virginia – developing homeschool leagues has proven more difficult. Nevertheless, a few WV homeschool parents feel up to the challenge!
Ignite, a 501c3 non-profit organization run by a governing board of six parents, offers competitive sports in a Christian atmosphere to homeschooled students in the Charleston area. Based out of Scott Depot, they currently offer girls middle school and high school volleyball, and boys middle school basketball. A high school boys basketball team will be added this year. This is their sixth volleyball season, and they raised an impressive $10,000 this past year for volleyball sponsorships.
When Ignite began six years ago, the goal was for other areas in WV to form homeschool teams against which Ignite could compete. While they did find interested parents, no additional teams have yet formed. Ignite still hopes to see this happen.
Carrie Black, one of the founders of Ignite, shares their biggest roadblock: “Our biggest issue right now is gym space for hosting home games and practices for basketball.” Since area church gyms are often used for other basketball programs, gyms available for Ignite are limited.
“Another obstacle we face is being recognized by the Christian Athletic Assocation (WVCAA), and the WVSSAC,” explains Carrie. “We aren’t permitted to play in any of their tournaments.” Ignite teams do play area Christian schools in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, excepting some schools that will not play them because they aren’t permitted in the conferences. However, Ignite teams can play in the East Coast Tournaments that are advertised by the Home School Sports Network.
Ignite is not a statewide organization; they acknowledge a possible need for a statewide homeschool sports association that could host tournaments for regional homeschool teams under their umbrella, including teams like Ignite. Carrie admits that this would take a lot of effort, and right now she focuses on encouraging other regions to develop homeschool teams similar to Ignite’s. This would widen the pool of competitors and create the first threads of change in the homeschool sports community.
Even if multiple homeschool teams formed and played one another, she’d still love to see homeschool teams welcomed into competition by the Christian Athletic Association of WV (WVCAA) and even the WVSSAC.
If you would be interested in forming teams in your region to compete, you can reach Carrie at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn from Ignite’s experience. Find Ignite soon at their new website, IgniteHomeschoolSports.org.