Claremore Christian’s Ryan Mullins talks of big plans for the school in the next 10 years
It’s a waiting game right now.
Those at Claremore Christian School have plans for a new campus on their property on Southaven Road just south of Claremore. Within 10 years, Ryan Mullins, administrator and head football coach for the Claremore Christian Warriors, says plans are for a new school to replace the facilities on Blue Starr, a new gymnasium, a fieldhouse and a football field.
But road construction on Blue Starr puts all those plans on hold for now.
“The (road) connection is supposed to be going right through the middle of our football field,” Mullins said. “A big piece of the puzzle is what the state is doing. It’s supposed to take 10 or 15 acres of that property.”
Claremore Christian owns 60 acres of that property, which could eventually house the entire school and athletic facilities. And facilities are Mullins’ main goal.
“We are really hoping to have a basketball gym built out on the new property on Southaven,” he said. “We’ve been renting Justus-Tiawah’s gym and it’s such a pain driving all the way out there. We’re hoping in 10 years or so to put a gym out there, attach it to a fieldhouse and then do some work on our football field also.”
Having a gym of their own is important for the school, Mullins said.
“To me, the basketball gym, where we can play basketball and volleyball and host tournaments...I think it adds a richness to the student body and adds more excitement,” he said. “It’s hard to get excited about something that isn’t yours.”
Mullins says enrollment won’t play a factor on their plan for facilities. But like in the movie “Field of Dreams,” if you build it, they will come.
“Usually, conversations aren’t centered around enrollment going up,” Mullins said. “More enrollment always helps, but that’s not the deciding factor. I think we can probably pick up about 35 or 40 students here (at the Blue Starr campus) before we cap out. We’re still making improvements as if we’re going to be here for awhile.”
So any growth and construction will have to wait for the state road construction to be completed. Then, Claremore Christian will decide on what to do. But it is doubtful the school will see growth like neighboring schools like Lincoln Christian in Northeast Tulsa and Rejoice Christian in Owasso, which have exploded with huge campuses, new facilities and growing enrollment.
“We’re kind of unique in how we do things,” Mullins said. “Being liberal arts and classical in nature, I don’t know if we’re ever going to get as big as some of those schools. We do things differently. I don’t know if we will see something like that. It’s nice when you have a donor drop $50 million in your lap ... I certainly wouldn’t complain about that. But facilities are the biggest part from an athletic standpoint. I don’t know if we’re looking to add programs and stuff like that. I’d like to see us add more fine arts in anything else.”
But one sport Mullins wouldn’t mind adding sooner than later is baseball. Claremore has a rich baseball history, and if he has the numbers, he could see baseball becoming a sport at CCS.
“We kick it up every now and then,” he said. “It’s about student numbers and athlete numbers. When you talk about starting programs, nobody can ever see all the way down the road. I don’t like the idea of starting something because you have enough kids and four years down the road, you’re killing it because now you don’t have enough. I like to start something and let’s stay on that train and put resources into it. I’m certainly open to it.”
Joining the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association is something that is off the table as of now. They gave it a chance, and it didn’t work for the Warriors athletic programs.
“We used to be in it,” Mullins said. “We took a shot at it for three or four football cycles. In basketball, you can schedule in a conference and don’t have to worry about the state association until the postseason. In football, they district you and they set that up. We were in a district where you’re heading out west for a couple of three hour drives. In eight man, teams out west really dominated. We’re a very small Class C-type of team and it was hard to be competitive. We just wanted more flexibility to put together our schedule and play teams that were kind of more where we are at. It works out well for us.”
And with that flexibility, the Warriors can control their opponents.
This year, CCS will be playing Foyil, a team that just dropped down to eight man this season. The game will be Sept. 28 for Foyil’s Homecoming.
“We’ve already played some teams that are Class B — South Coffeyville, Prue — and can usually be competitive,” Mullins said. “I was a little apprehensive about it because you see a Class A team dropping down and we’re a very small Class C-type team. Obviously, it’s close and I like that. It’s a great thing for our fans if you can schedule in Rogers County right down the road. I don’t know what that’s going to look like, but we’re excited about it.”
One day, the two schools may be closer in enrollment and size, and may play each other on an annual basis. But until the Southaven Road construction is complete, the Warriors won’t know about their future home.
The good news?
They have plenty of time to figure it out.