Recent graduates and former SAGU athletes James and Jordan Southerland have dedicated their careers to developing and mentoring student athletes.
In August of 2015, James and Jordan arrived on Happy Hills Farm, the 500-acre campus that houses North Central Texas Academy (NCTA). Shortly thereafter, the Southerlands helped lead the Pioneers to a high school basketball state championship for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. While the NCTA basketball program continues to experience success on the court, James and Jordan prioritize ministry to student athletes.
“We are excited to see how the kids we have been working with year after year grow on and off the court as athletes and in Christ,” James Southerland said.
James and Jordan believe that their time as student athletes at SAGU provided them with an understanding of how to balance duties as coaches and spiritual mentors.
“SAGU showed me that there doesn’t have to be a separation between your Christian walk and work. Even though I get to be a coach and I love sports, for me, the most important thing is that I want them to have a relationship with Christ,” James Southerland said.
Among the many influential individuals that James and Jordan mentioned during their time at SAGU, Jordan Southerland made special mention of Hank Moore, SAGU’s Head Volleyball Coach.
“I played for and worked with Coach Moore and I got to see how he discipled his players and connected with them to make sure they feel a part of his family,” Jordan said. “Being a part of the SAGU volleyball program showed me that I am not just a coach, but a mentor. This is how I attempt to impact my players’ lives.”
James’ experience growing up as a missionary kid and transitioning to life as a college student in the United States has proved to be a door to speak into the lives of international students at NCTA. James grew up in the Netherlands for most of his childhood until moving to Waxahachie in 2008 to attend SAGU. “I know what it is like going to school while mom and dad are 10,000 miles away,” James said. With a large percentage of NCTA's students being international students, James is able to relate to the challenges that international students face, including culture shock and separation from family.
While the Southerlands continue to prioritize the development of their students, their coaching success in basketball along with other sports is no small feat. Since their time at NCTA, James helped coach the football team to the semi-finals two years in a row and was Assistant Track Coach when the men’s and women’s track program won runner-up at state championships last year.
Jordan also serves as the Head Volleyball Coach and helped lead the volleyball team to the regional championships last year and the semifinals this year.
Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams went undefeated in their districts last year before winning state championships. This was the men’s third state championship in a row and the women’s sixth state championship.
In response to what they are most excited about for the future, Jordan said, “Just seeing the impact. These kids get here and they are searching for something. I am excited to see where the Lord takes them and to be a part of that journey.”