KNOXVILLE — Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, TSSAA schools were told not to play Knoxville Christian School — that according to its current athletic director.
However, things have warmed up quite a bit recently, as the school’s application to join TSSAA was accepted during the body’s virtual Board of Control meeting Thursday, Jan. 14.
“We’re excited about the opportunity,” Joey Brandenburg, KCS athletic director and boys basketball head coach, said about the Knights’ TSSAA participation in boys and girls basketball and volleyball beginning with the 2021-22 season. “They put us in (Division II, District) 2A, East Division.”
Knoxville Christian will be an affiliate member that first season, meaning KCS teams would not be eligible for post-season TSSAA tournament play.
“That’s the common rule … you go through a year of probation as an affiliate,” Brandenburg said. “But we will attend the NACA National Tournament, (that’s) where we would go next year” instead of the TSSAA tournaments.
“The following year we’re be able to compete for (TSSAA) state championships,” he added.
Greetings, lots of help
As for getting a warm reception, “I had several schools text me or contact me the day that we got approved. We really appreciate that,” Brandenburg said. “CAK was the first one.”
Moreover, “I definitely appreciate Jody Wright at Fulton,” he added about that school’s athletic director and famed boys basketball head coach who has been a TSSAA Region 2 official for a number of years. “He’s answered any questions that I’ve had.
“(Bernard) Childress (executive director) of TSSAA; they’ve worked really well with us. … We want to thank those guys for sure.”
Overall, “We want to thank everybody for allowing us this opportunity,” Brandenburg said.
Looking back, looking ahead
While having “never been a member of the TSSAA” according to Brandenburg, KCS coaches were “I guess recruiting other players” in a manner not pleasing to TSSAA before he got to the school beginning in the 2018-19 school year. “And the TSSAA put out a thing that they didn’t want their schools playing KCS.”
Upon his hiring as the school’s AD, “I cleaned house with everybody,” Brandenburg said. “And I contacted TSSAA, and then they allowed (their member schools) to play us again once they knew I was there.”
Looking ahead to the 2022-23 school year, “We’re planning on adding baseball, soccer (both girls and boys) and softball,” Brandenburg said.