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Coaching basketball to instill life-long lessons

Mark Davis has served as the head coach of the men’s varsity basketball team at Loganville Christian Academy (LCA) for more than 13 years, but he wouldn’t call himself a huge fan of the sport.

Born and raised in Louisville, Ky., Mark says basketball was something everyone watched and loved when he was growing up. But now, the head coach sees basketball as more of a tool than a vocation. Mark says that he was never the most competitive player on the court – the last time he played for a team was in 7th grade. But his older brother, who he looked up to, was a great player, and so Mark became a student of it. He always had a good understanding of the sport, and so he excels at teaching strategy to the kids at LCA.

Around the same time Mark started coaching at LCA, he also took on the role as Principal. Mark served as Principal of LCA’s Upper School, overseeing grades 6 to 12 for more than a decade until he transitioned into a newly created position as Campus Pastor.

Over his years at LCA, Mark has laid deep roots. Both his sons played on the basketball team and met their wives at LCA. And Mark says every semester when he gets a new batch of players, he feels like his family continues to expand. “Those boys that I coach, I am extremely close with,” Mark said. “[In] my mind and in my wife’s mind, we have 12 or 13 new boys every season. They become family, and we would do anything for them.”

The way Mark sees it, his previous role as Principal and his current one as Campus Pastor aren’t that different from coaching. It’s all about forming relationships and teaching lessons to the people he works with.

Coaching is just another piece of his greater service ministry, according to Mark. When he instructs the players and discusses strategy, he always tries to impart some kind of value that the player will be able to use long after his dribbling days are over.

“And what if we use the game to teach the young men how to live life? “Mark said. ”The guys we coach at this level, some will play another year, and then their basketball career is going to be over. But these kids are 16, 17. If they live to be 80 to 85 years of age, they’re going to play ball for five years. They’ll live another 70.”

He added,” I’m failing them miserably if I don’t take that ball and teach them to live their life. 70 years versus five years — where are you going to invest?”

To say Mark has a full schedule is an understatement — besides his two roles at LCA, Mark is also the Associate Pastor at Yellow River Baptist Church on Five Forks Trickum Rd.

According to Mark, it’s often hard for people he chats with to keep track of all the different hats he wears.

“I’ll say, well I know you think I’m lying [but] I really do all of those things, “Mark said.

Although he doesn’t advise anyone to take on the same level of commitments, Mark says he doesn’t know how to live his life any other way.

“To me, it’s not a scenario where I punch in one, and I punch out the other one,” Mark said. “My life is dedicated to The Lord. I want to minister to people, and I don’t care if it’s coaching basketball here at the school or with our staff members. Quite honestly, I don’t delineate it like that. I just try to help people.”

Despite his busy schedule, Mark likes to take on additional duties like visiting friends in the hospital, managing Sunday school functions, or organizing new charity projects.

“Maybe [I’m] too busy, to be honest with you, but busy has become a way of life for me,” Mark said.”

“I’ve got the greatest wife in the world,” Mark said, sharing the secret of how he manages it all. “She understands the ministry and what we’re attempting to do. She loves the church and the school the as much as I do. And she gets it. She’s the glue that holds it all together.”

Currently working towards a Doctor of Ministry in Leadership from Piedmont International University, Mark is writing his thesis about the connection between coaching basketball and ministering. And to that point, Mark says that, in its own right, basketball isn’t that important to him.

“I’ve said this a lot — I think I could live without basketball, “Mark said. “I don’t know that I can live without trying to minister to people. But I’ll use basketball to minister to them. You got 30 kids you get to minister to them. You got their attention, and they perk up and pay attention. “

“Transitioning from Principal to Campus Pastor is a good one for him because he just loves all these kids, “ junior varsity basketball coach Bill Tiencken said. “You can tell he has a heart for all those kids, so it’s sort of a natural fit for him. He relates to all levels from the littlest ones. I think this role fits him well.”

Located at 2575 Hwy 81, LCA is a private institution with two schools including the Lower School (Pre-K to 5th) and the Upper School (6th to 12th). More information about the school visit