Mark Barth worked to build the Bethlehem Christian Academy athletic program for the past five years. Now Barth feels the time has come for him to move on.
Barth announced last week he is stepping down as the school’s athletic director to return to the business sector. He said he didn’t think he could have left a year ago, but decided the time was right to do so now.
“I was hired to build the program and I believe we have done that,” Barth said. “I believe we have exceeded our expectations. We have won a couple of team state championships and a couple of individual championships. We have a great cast of young coaches now who will continue to move the athletic programs forward.”
Football coach Lance Fendley is the school’s new athletic director and is working on filling the role of varsity boys basketball coach left by Barth.
“I believe Coach Fendley will take things to great heights,” Barth said. “He’s a great leader.”
Leaving BCA will be tough for Barth, who coached baseball, basketball and softball in addition to his administration duties.
“The relationships that were formed is something I will always remember,” he said. “Five years ago, there was a middle school that didn’t have any direction of where they were headed athletically. We began to set the bar a little higher in terms of expectations and we accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time. We’ve had two graduating classes and what we have done has been a testimony to the kids. We have won the right way.”
With Barth not going to another school, he said he will continue to be at BCA events, supporting the Knights and Lady Knights. He said he is looking forward to the football season opener Aug. 22.
“I still plan on being a part of the kids as they march on,” he said. “I will miss the school and miss the kids. The kids are strong and they will be fine moving forward. One thing about life is that we are all replaceable. I have nothing but the highest regards for BCA and the leadership of Rhonda Whiting.”
Barth said the business opportunity was something he felt he had to do from a financial standpoint and that the timing was right for the move.
Moving forward, Fendley said one of his main goals is to ensure BCA is competitive in all sports as it moves into Class AAA in the GISA.
“One of the things I am concentrating on now is to find a new boys basketball coach,” Fendley said. “We also want to raise the bar for our female athletes.”
Fendley said building BCA’s athletic program will be done with people of character.
“We always want to send out quality individuals,” Fendley said. “That is a consistent theme for any athletic director. Once a student finishes their high school career, we want them to represent our school in a positive way. We are looking to make all players and coaches accountable. That way you will be more competitive.”
Despite going from Class A to Class AAA, Fendley said he will never be satisfied with just showing up for a game, regardless of the sport. He wants BCA to set the standard in athletics.
“We are not going to be the whipping boy just because we are in AAA,” he said. “ It doesn’t matter what the sport is. From tennis to football, our goal is to be successful.”
Filling the boys basketball role as soon as possible is a current focus. Fendley said he wants to move quickly, but at the same time make the right hire.
“We want the best person for the job,” he said. “It’s just another piece to the overall puzzle.”
The new athletic director has a good deal on his plate at BCA. He will continue in his football coaching duties and is now a vice-principal. He said he will evaluate whether to continue coaching the school’s track teams when that season gets closer. He noted the track program has enjoyed success and he wants that to continue.
“I am not going to give it up without making sure we have the right person guiding the program,” Fendley said of BCA’s track teams.
Fendley also stressed he wants to maintain a proper balance between his work duties and his family life.
“That’s something one should never overlook,” he said.