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Charge Ahead: Honoring 25 years of CA Athletics

October 14, 2021

“Coach Pope taught me to be kind to my mother.” 

Greg Jokl ’09 shared this with me when we were chatting about his experience on campus. I was struck by his statement. While his relationship to Coach Pope was in relation to athletics, their relationship—and Coach’s legacy—was one rooted in human kindness, in nurturing meaningful and sustaining connections. 

Last year, when our classes were virtual and we were shifting between various citrus fruit modes on campus (tangerine, orange, etc.), we allowed our students to continue to participate in in-person athletics. Why? Because in addition to realizing there were ways to do so safely, we understood the vast impact athletics has on student wellness—both mental and physical. 

Our strategic plan states that, “as members of the CA Learning Community, we believe physical, social, and emotional balance is essential for learning and well-being.” Undoubtedly, our athletic program contributes daily to the well-being of our students. Aside from the physical benefits of athletics, the Chargers that coach, teach, and support our students impart crucial wellness lessons and skills that go far beyond the gym, field, or court: schoolwork-life balance, teamwork, stress management, resiliency, and, yep, even the importance of being kind to your parents. 

Last spring, as our Varsity Baseball team completed an undefeated regular season that culminated with a heartbreaking loss in the playoffs, a group of parents came to my office to talk. They shared how baseball had been an important and necessary outlet for their students after such a hard year, how Coach Pope had led his players through the wins, but also through the devastating loss—sharing life lessons that would be well remembered long after his players hung up their cleats. 

The parents wanted to express their thanks and honor Coach Pope, his monumental contributions, and his years of dedicated service in a place that has significant meaning to him: the baseball field. Happily, we were able to do just that with yesterday’s unveiling of the newly re-named Ray Pope Field.  

In addition to simply honoring Coach Pope, however, the parents also wanted to do something to preserve his legacy for years to come, something that honored his vast impact on the broader student body and on CA athletics, not only as a coach, but as a teacher and mentor as well.  

In that spirit, we are excited to have partnered with this enterprising group of parents to recognize formally the monumental role that CA athletics plays in the overall wellness of our students with the launch of a new fund—the Charge Ahead Fund—in support of CA athletics.  

Designed to benefit all, the Charge Ahead Fund opens the door to support for all CA sports and all athletes. Any student, parent, coach, or employee may submit a Charge Ahead Fund grant request to enhance any aspect of our athletic program. Requests can be specific to one sport (new equipment for practice) or something to benefit multiple sports (misting tents to be used on the fields). Thanks to the generosity of our community, $50,000 has already been raised to go towards meeting the needs of athletics, as determined by our Charger community. 

During this celebratory 25th anniversary, the Charge Ahead Fund offers an opportunity to reflect on the impact athletics has had and continues to have on our students–to consider how it brings us together, teaches crucial life lessons, and creates lifelong bonds. It also gives us the ability to dream big for the future – to think carefully about what we need and how we can create better opportunities for future Chargers. 

Ultimately, this fund will continue to build upon the strong foundation that has been laid by so many, including Coach Pope. It will allow our community to come together and make a cumulative impact on CA athletics, by giving a voice to our student athletes, parents, and coaches about their needs and desires. 

As we celebrate this milestone year and those who have brought us this far, thank you to all who are also helping us charge ahead into the next 25 years in the best ways possible. 

Curious about how the fund and its designations will work? Read below! 

Frequently asked questions regarding the application for and usage of the Charge Ahead Fund 

What do I do if I have an idea for a grant? 
Reach out to the athletic office to talk through your idea, learn if anyone else has submitted a grant for this need, and if not, to request a grant. 

Who can apply for grants? 
Any current parent, student, or coach may request an application and submit it for approval. Your grant must be signed off by the Athletic Director and coach of the sport you are requesting a grant for. 

How often are grants reviewed? 
Twice a year – in January and in July. 

Who reviews the grants? 
After submission, you may request a meeting with the head of Charger Club and the Director of Development to talk through your grant request and answer any outstanding questions. The final review will be made by a committee comprised of the Head of School, Director of Athletics, Director of Development, Head(s) of Charger Club, and a student representative. 

How do I access a grant? 
Reach out to Kevin Jones, Athletic Director, at kevin_jones@caryacademy.org to get an application. 

How much are the grants for? 
The grants have a maximum award limit of $5,000. However, if the grant request benefits multiple sports, that maximum may be waived. 

Where does the money for grants come from? 
From gifts of any size made by members of the community. 

For any additional questions about the Charge Ahead Fund, how to apply for grant funds or contribute, please contact Ali Page, Director of Development.

Written by Ali Page, Director of Development

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