Bostwick resident starts sports league for homeschoolers
HALO connects northeast Georgia youth through competitive team play
By Kathryn Schiliro
For many middle and high school students – at least those in public schools – the opportunity to participate in school sports is readily available.
It's no so easy for home-school students.
To that end, Bostwick resident Jeff Vandemark has started an athletic program for middle school and junior varsity (JV)-aged home-school students. The program, Homeschool Athletic Leagues Organization (HALO), is one year old.
"My vision, my goal is to try to be the athletic department for the home-school community in northeast Georgia," Vandemark said.
HALO's mission, according to the website, is "to provide an opportunity for home school children to participate in organized, competitive athletics and to use that competition to teach Christian based principles that will encourage each young person to strive for spiritual maturity in all areas of their lives."
Vandemark, according to the website, has experience playing high school and college basketball – at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., and Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn. – as well as playing professionally overseas in Taiwan, Wales (where he served at the vice president of Basketball Development for the country), Germany, Hungary, Austria, Guatemala and Belize. He was an assistant coach of the Bryan College basketball program for two years and has also been the sports director at the Columbia, S.C. YMCA for three years. He is the current director of Pinnacle Sports Academy, "a basketball camp and small group instruction company."
Last year, HALO hosted middle school boys and middle school girls basketball teams as well as middle school and JV boys baseball teams. Vandemark wants to add girls softball teams this year.
In fact, Vandemark has already scheduled 21 games as well as a post-season tournament with home-school programs and private schools – places like Bethlehem Christian and Atlanta's Brandon Hall School – willing to play HALO teams. Last year the HALO team even played in a South Carolina statewide tournament.
"For the home-school community, once they hit middle school there are no options for competitive athletics," Vandemark said. "This program is really filling a need. It's been a vision and dream of mine for seven years and last year it came to fruition."
This year's HALO sporting events are set to start up in mid-October. It's operated like any school's athletic department; there are coaches and uniforms.
Vandemark is holding an informational meeting for parents on Thursday, Aug. 23, 6:30-8 p.m. at Faith Presbyterian Church in Watkinsville.
For more information on HALO, visit their website: www.halowolfpack.com or e-mail Vandermark at email@example.com.
HALO Information Session
Thursday, Aug. 23 at 6:30-8 p.m.
Faith Presbyterian Church, Watkinsville
Printed in the August 16, 2012 edition