Entering its 25th year, The King’s Academy has officially decided to switch its high school athletics and academic competitions from GAPPS (Georgia Association of Private and
Parochial Schools) to GISA (Georgia Independent School Association). The move will take effect at the beginning of the 2024- 2025 school year, bringing all high school academic competitions and athletics under the GISA umbrella. A decision has yet to be made for middle school art, athletic and academic competitions.
The move comes in the wake of GAPPS’s decision to stop offering 11-man football. Of the nine schools participating in 11-man football, many lacked the means to continue playing at that level. In order to preserve the upward trajectory of the football program, TKA began its foray into other leagues.
“This came about because of football,” Coach Scott Walker, assistant athletic director and varsity football offensive coordinator, said. “But this decision requires bringing all our athletics and academics into GISA.”
While a switch made sense for football, the decision needed to be made for all other sports and academic competitions. After several meetings and phone calls between members of the Athletic Department and league representatives from GAPPS and GISA, TKA submitted its application to GISA Friday, Oct. 7. Four days later, GISA held an interview with various members of the athletic department and administration. Ultimately, TKA has decided to proceed with the move.
“We’ve had many, many meetings discussing the pros and cons of each side,” Coach Walker said. “TKA has been loyal to GAPPS for good reason, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t change.”
TKA’s athletic history intertwines with its provision of athletic and academic opportunities for homeschool students, joining GAPPS in order to provide those opportunities. However, GISA now allows a certain number of homeschool students to participate in its athletic programs.
With the move finalized, all TKA programs are preparing for a larger stage in 2024. At present, 162 schools participate in GISA, with 75 of them competing athletically in GIAA (Georgia Independent Athletic Association), GISA’s athletic arm.
Many TKA teams welcome the step up in competition. Varsity tennis, for example, has combined for 11 state championships between the boys’ and girls’ teams since 2015.
“It’d be nice to have better competition,” junior tennis player Johnny Guse said. “We’ve won so much.”
On the administrative side, GISA presents new challenges. While GAPPS contained several schools in the Atlanta area, many of GISA’s schools stretch down into middle and south Georgia. While this could mean farther travel, new schools closer to TKA could join.
“Not only could there be schools from GAPPS moving to GISA, but some GHSA (Georgia High School Association) may be moving in as well,” Coach Walker said. “There’s a lot of decisions that have to be made this time of year.”
Financially, there will be no significant change following the move. While other changes will be handled administratively, the only decision to be made by the competitors themselves is whether or not to rise to the challenge of a new opportunity.
“The question is: ‘Is [TKA] ready to step up the competition, not only in football, but in everything we do?’” said Walker. “My answer is ‘Let’s Go.’”