The GICAA, which celebrated its one-year anniversary at the end of January, has grown to more than 75 schools. Cherokee Christian was one of the first schools to join a year ago.
The GICAA divides participating schools into one of three divisions based on where their athletes attend school. Division I features brick-and-mortar schools that do not draw athletes from outside their school. Division II schools are allowed to draw half of their athletes from outside of the school boundaries, or from home-school programs. Those in Division III are allowed to draw an unlimited number of athletes from outside and include teams composed entirely of home-schooled students.
“We are trying to find a home for the athlete who is not a part of the public-school system,” said Todd Hannon, president and founder of the GICAA. “We’re trying to do it because we think the needs for the private and faith-based schools are different than the public schools.”
Hannon said the GICAA prides itself on providing solid competition within the rules of fair play and sportsmanship.
That’s where Dale Crowell, recently named the first athletic director at Cherokee Christian, said his school comes into play.
Previously, the Knights’ six varsity programs — basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming and volleyball — competed independently. The last time Cherokee Christian was in a league, it was a part of Atlanta Conference of Christian Educators, which was folded into the GICAA upon the newer association’s founding.
“We played (in the GICAA) this year and it is very well-run,” Crowell said. “It’s been great.”
Cherokee Christian’s region — a part of Division II AA — spreads from Rome to Powder Springs and Smyrna and west toward Carrollton. The AA refers to the size of the school, putting the Knights in the larger of the two classifications.
“It can vary by the year, depending on how many new schools come in, until it levels off with the number of schools,” Crowell said. “This was the first year, so we had to travel a little further than we wanted to for one game, but, by and large, it isn’t too bad.”
In the future, the GICAA hopes to sponsor literary competitions such as one-act plays, drama and debate — like the larger Georgia High School Association does — as well as robotics and mathematics competitions. Organizers are also working to add a middle-school league.