Throughout this year, Maranatha Christian School’s (MCS) Administration has been evaluating its athletic programs and personnel to align with its new strategic plan, supporting growth in academics, the arts, and athletics. MCS has been pleased with its progress and is preparing for further expansion and excellence. To that end, MCS is thrilled to announce its first choice candidate for Athletic Director, Mr. Steve Whitley, who joined MCS’s Athletic Staff on July 1, 2014.

Parents and students have recently contributed to Maranatha’s strategic vision, and have articulated a desire for the institution to move forward while maintaining its traditional strengths. MCS is known for its uncompromising, Christ-centered, academically challenging programs.

Mr. Whitley is a seasoned professional who is dedicated to giving the students an outstanding athletic experience during their MCS years. His passion is to develop young people not only athletically but also spiritually, and academically.

“First and foremost, the overriding goal is to strengthen the Christian walk of every athlete and help them strive to please God and honor Him in everything they do, on and off the field,” said Mr.Whitley. “We want to give Christian athletes an opportunity to play in a strong Christian environment without sacrificing their athletic development.”

Mr. Whitley commented on MCS’s robust Athletics program, and shared his plans for growth, “Maranatha already offers a nice variety of CIF sports with football, girls volleyball, boys and girls basketball and soccer, lacrosse, track, baseball, softball and a thriving cheer program.”

“Our goal however is to be more than just a school that simply offers those sports, we want to develop athletes within those specific sports and give them the skills necessary to play beyond the high school level if they have the God-given ability and work ethic.”

Mr. Whitley believes in taking a hands-on approach by providing college recruiting advice and contacts while developing the tools and training needed to play at the next level. Initially, Mr. Whitley plans to carefully evaluate the existing programs before taking the necessary steps toward turning Maranatha into a player development program. As the school grows and more students participate, additional sports will be added.

A former collegiate baseball player at MiraCosta College and Texas Tech, Mr. Whitley understands firsthand what it takes to have a challenging athletic program, “I am excited about the future of Maranatha Athletics,” added Mr. Whitley. “We have the facilities and support to transform the program and make it something really special.” Mr. Whitley, who will also coach varsity baseball at Maranatha, has over thirty years of baseball experience at every level of play. He has previously coached at Carlsbad High, Vista High, San Dieguito High, and MiraCosta College.  He managed several years in a Major League Baseball-funded, NCAA-sanctioned Collegiate League and worked as an area scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates. More than two dozen of his former players have played professionally. For the past five years he has been the head coach of the Calvary Christian Vista baseball team. Under his watch, Calvary Christian, despite less than 100 students, was elevated to CIF Division 3 and won four consecutive undefeated league titles and one CIF Section Championship. They won ninety-seven games and had ten players move on to play college baseball.

A dedicated Christian and family man, Steve has been married to his wife, Wendi for twenty-two years. He has four children, and his oldest, Caleb, attends The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California on a baseball scholarship. His identical twins, Cassidi and Carli, will both attend Grand Canyon University in the fall, while his youngest, Cami, will be a senior at Calvary Vista this year.

As a parent and a coach, Mr. Whitley understands the value of athletics and recognizes that the love of sports needs to be encouraged and nurtured from a very young age. Part of his vision is to structure MCS’s Athletic Program to include ways to consistently provide students with excellent athletic opportunities from lower school ages through varsity level competition – allowing for continuity that benefits each age level.

“Maranatha already has very good elementary and junior high program in place and will continue to expose younger students to a wide variety of sports while always emphasizing health and fitness,” said Mr. Whitley.

For those who have the aptitude and desire to play more competitively in the future, MCS plans to implement sport-specific programs that will include related strength, flexibility and speed training. This will not only help students to be grounded with the proper fundamentals, it will also allow them to have a higher likelihood of success as they mature.

“Our goal is to get the most out of every athlete’s God-given gifts, and to create an environment where the athlete can thrive and have a realistic chance to advance beyond high school.”

Mr. Whitley also understands the complimentary aspects of athletics with academic programs and spiritual training, “In the future, I hope to be able to look back and clearly see the work God has done in the lives of all the athletes and their families,” he said. “If we are successful in our goal to train and develop student-athletes for college within a strong Christian environment… I hope to see a long list of athletes who came through our school and have achieved their dream.”

“As for those who do not play a sport beyond high school, our goal is that they walk away with skills learned through a quality athletic program to help them lead successful lives… and more importantly, to walk closely with God all the days of their lives. After all, it is a race to the finish and I hope they will all finish strong!”