At first glance it’s difficult to understand why an accomplished coach with decades of experience at the highest level of Arizona high school football would want to take the job at Joy Christian School.
But for Brian Cole, coach of the 2005 5A-II state champion North Canyon squad, the decision was easy.
“It was a decision based on family,” he said. “I was at North Canyon High School for the past eight years and things were going very well, but then this opportunity came up out of the blue and my wife and I felt like it was the right move.”
Cole lives nearby and planned to have his two children attend Joy Christian, 21000 N. 75th Ave. in Glendale.
“It’s two minutes from my house,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for me to be around my family a lot more.”
But what about on the football field? Cole said that will be an adjustment for him, too, since Joy Christian plays eight-man football.
“It’s very different,” he said. “We’ll try to do a lot of the same things we would with 11 men. But really what it all boils down to is who tackles better and who blocks better. Eight men or eleven, that doesn’t change.”
Having said that, Cole added he does plan to move the third-year varsity program up to 11-man football soon, to make their players more visible to college coaches and to attract better athletes to the program.
“That’s one of the things I talked to (Superintendent) Jim Davis about,” he said. “I told him we really need to make the move to 11-man in two years. Hopefully by then our enrollment will be enough to allow it but even if it’s not we need to petition for it.”
Cole said there is work to be done.
He and new Athletic Director Alan Boelter were brought in because of their experience and expertise at running successful programs. Cole said he quickly identified some of the shortcomings.
“There were a lot of things not being done here that should have been in place,” he said. “There was no offseason weight training program in place, for one thing. So we’re behind where we ought to be. But my goal is the same as it always is, and that’s to make the playoffs and make some noise.”
Boelter served in the same capacity at Northwest Christian School for six years. He said he began to consider a change of scenery when his nephew was accepted at Joy Christian.
“They accepted my newphew and I met Jim Davis in December,” he said. “I observed how the teachers and coaches came around him and loved him. The relational atmosphere at Joy Christian was impressive for sure. The more I came up to games and saw what was going on the more attractive it became.”
Boelter said he came to believe Eagle athletics could be a force.
“The potiental for Joy to become one of the best athletic programs in the state is here,” he said. “The amount of land there is, the coaches that are in place, and the students that are here in the younger grades are a recipe for success.”
And the family atmosphere sealed it.
“Probably the reason that attacted me most to Joy Christian School is the Christ-like love of the staff,” he said. “I could tell this place was different than other places because of the people.”
Joy Christian spent the past year under advisement from the Arizona Interscholastic Association after facing recruiting allegations, but Boelter said that did not give him pause.
“Whatever has happened is in the past and we are moving forward with what we God has given us,” he said. “I am familiar with the AIA and have worked on various committees for them. We will make sure we are in compliance and working with the AIA as we build the athletic program.”
Boelter said he believes in Cole and the leadership he will bring to the football program.
“Coach Cole is amazing,” Boelter said. “He will change the culture of how we do football around here.”
Boelter said Joy Christian is looking to build an impressive athletics program beyond just a powerhouse football team. This year they are adding soccer, softball and cross country and have moved into the Valley Christian Schools league at the middle school level, which Boelter said will help to build programs.
“Our coaches care,” Boelter said. “They want our kids to become better people in Christ. They will learn the skills of the teams they are on and we will be competitive in what we do because the Lord demands our very best.”
As for this football season, Cole said he feels almost like it is his first.
“I’ve never coached 8-man before and I have to say it has me excited about football all over again. There are some great coaches and great teams at this level. We have our work cut out for us. It’s a new challenge and I can’t wait to get started,” he said.