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Fendley warms to new job

Filling the void

POSTED: August 2, 2014 11:00 a.m.
Adam Wynn/Barrow County News

BCA football coach Lance Fendley inherited the position of athletic director after his predecessor, Mark Barth, announced his resignation in the summer.

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For high school football coaches, the season never ends. 

For high school athletic directors, there is always something in season. 

For Lance Fendley, that means quite a headache.

With the departure of Mark Barth over the summer, the school’s former and first athletic director, varsity head football coach Lance Fendley has been named to a new role with new responsibilities.

“It’s exciting. It’s definitely some big shoes to fill,” Fendley said of replacing Barth as the new athletic director. “Coach Barth did a lot of great things for Bethlehem Christian Academy. He was our very first athletic director.”

As Fendley mentioned, the school’s great facilities, both those in existence and those in progress, are due largely to the work that Barth put in over his five years with the school. 

Now, Fendley gets the opportunity to stamp his name on the BCA landscape in more than one way, and he hopes to do so by completing what Barth started and adding his own touches.

“He did such a good job of making sure that we have what we have already, it’s my job to make sure we do nothing but continue to expand,” Fendley noted. “Obviously the football field is almost playable. The gym is our next project, but we don’t want to stop there.”

For Fendley’s dream pet projects, he hopes to add to the baseball facilities and turn the football field into a genuine stadium worth the envy of visitors. Fendley also wants to turn the future basketball court into a real spectacle in GISA athletics while expanding support facilities like weight rooms.

Way down the road Fendley hopes to add hitting facilities and a field house to the existing baseball and football fields, along with any number of other potential projects that could enhance the athletic experience at BCA.

“This really is a dynamic campus already, but adding those things down the road…I’d love nothing more than to see banners and nice bleachers. All those things I know the administration wants to see with me, I’m taking it as my job to build on them,” Fendley explained. “It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but never taking the foot off the gas to where you drive on this campus with a hitting facility and a football field with a press box and bleachers…you’re just really blown away when you drive on this campus.

“Most people are already, but when you add those things you get people really blown away by all that we offer,” Fendley said.

The new position is also a new experience for Fendley, but it is one that he has come by honestly and feels more than prepared for. After all, Fendley had an excellent teacher.

For nearly half of Barth’s time at BCA, Fendley was sitting right there, learning from the boss and preparing for the opportunity to show just how much he had picked up.

“Some things that I picked up along the way are the ins and outs. Things that you have to do so far as scheduling officials and making sure that your travel plans are taken care of; making sure the parent communication is at its fullest,” Fendley listed. “Those are the finer things that nobody really thinks about when they think about athletic directing.

“But then there are some outside things that I’ve picked up on my own,” Fendley added. “I view any job like I view coaching football: you pick up things you like and you pick up things you don’t like and you kind of mold them both together to create your own style and that’s what I hope to do here.”

Coaching is a difficult job, but so is directing an entire athletic program, even at a school as small as Bethlehem.  In order to keep things running smoothly, Fendley knows he has to balance his many responsibilities well or else something will fall off.

“It’s going to be fun. I hope it’s going to be fun, anyways,” Fendley joked. “At the end of the day, there are going to be people out there who are a lot busier than I am and they manage to get everything done in a timely manner, so it’s just going to be a matter of prioritizing and making sure that the most important task is the next one. 

“Not to look too far down the road, we can only handle what’s in front of us,” Fendley added. “We’re going to take it one season at a time. Right now we’re getting ready for fall sports, which is football and volleyball. When that’s over, we’ll take it over to winter sports and then on to spring sports. We’re going to take it piece by piece.”

Of course, with Fendley being an athletic director and a football coach, he knows that some people will look his way and watch out for any signs of bias against one sport or for another. The reality of coaching and administrating the department opens up Fendley to a potentially difficult world, but he understands that reality. 

“I want to keep the non-negotiables, the constant variables throughout everything, I want every program to be competitive, I want every program to develop good people of character and I want every program to raise their academic standards and the kind of person we’re producing,” Fendley listed. 

To those potential critics and naysayers, Fendley also says that he supports the good of Bethlehem over the good of any one program. If one program struggles, they all struggle. When everyone succeeds, that is when BCA athletics are at their best.

 “My goal is that I want everybody to look good, I want everybody to play good and I want everybody play on good facilities. I don’t want our volleyball team to look shabby and our baseball team to look like the Atlanta Braves,” Fendley added. “That doesn’t do anything for Bethlehem Christian Academy.

“I’m a football coach. I want football to be good, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want the other sports to be good as well,” Fendley said. “It really is about helping people, and I want every coach and student at BCA to feel like they’re at the best school they can be at.”

Of course, Fendley is far from alone on this endeavor. The new athletic director has a great staff surrounding him on all sides and he welcomes their input as well as their assistance, naming head of school Rhonda Whiting and chief financial officer Anthony Torbett as two of his biggest supporters.

Ever the family man, too, Fendley was sure to recognize his wife.

“Without those three people, none of this would be possible. I’m surrounded by great people, and that helps out a lot, too,” Fendley acknowledged. 

 “People understand how much we’ve got going on right now with football season getting cranked up and with us trying to get ready for our season and trying to make sure that we’re putting a quality football team on the field, and that takes a lot of my time and takes precedence over work on my part to get everything where it should be.

“Balancing it all at the end of the day and making sure my wife knows I still care about her and making sure she knows that I do still like spending time at home, that’s going to be a challenge as well to balance the family part,” Fendley said.

As difficult as that extra balancing act will be, Fendley knows where his family will fit on the priority chart he talked about earlier.

“At the end of the day, they come first,” Fendley commented. “I still need to make time for my family and my wife and making sure that she still gets to see me.”

“I’ve been so used to just all of my focus and attention on teaching my classes and coaching my football team, but this year it’s going to be coaching my football team, running a department and also helping to run this school from the vice principal position,” Fendley added. “You know, I’ve just got to remember that first things first is the kids.”

Lest anyone thought Fendley planned to go easy on the competition in GISA 1-A, his ultimate goal remains as this: that BCA is competitive and that the region and the state know who they are.

“The days of BCA being anybody’s whipping boy are over. I never want that to be the case,” Fendley said. “Whenever somebody plays Bethlehem, whether it’s in volleyball or tennis, they know they played a tough, competitive team.”

 

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