In his first year as a coach for Genesis United Cross Country, Center Grove alumnus Ben Houston said his new program is providing an outlet for many Southside athletes.
“Absolutely, we are filling a void for that, and I think you will see that evidence as we start growing in the next several years as the word gets out of our program,” he said.
Genesis United is a Christian-based athletic program for home-schoolers who are still looking to compete in sports. The organization has established soccer, cross-country and track programs. Home-schooled students in previous years had to drive to Bloomington or Carmel to run cross-country. Now, after the end of its inaugural season, Houston is confident his team will grow quickly.
“I want to see the organization continue to grow. I want it to remain an organization of character and faith and strong values that is open to all home-schooled athletes who are interested in bettering themselves.”
During the day Houston works at the University of Indianapolis as a graduate studies and adult learning enrollment counselor. After work he and co-coach Crystal Neil run the boys and girls cross-country teams, which practice at Summerfield Park in southern Greenwood.
“I feel blessed having a co-coach like Crystal,” Houston said. “We compliment each other very well.”
Neil handles most of the logistics and administration of the teams, while Houston writes the teams’ training plans and oversees workouts.
Macy Cline and Eliya Sica finished fourth and 15th, respectively, at the Ohio Valley High School Regional Championships in Columbus, Ind., Oct. 14; each earned All-Region honors.
The boys were led by Donavon Avalos with a 16th-place finish, just missing All-Region. Earlier in the season he finished seventh at the Indiana Christian School Athletic Association state meet, sharing association All-State honors with teammate Ryan Rueff, who finished 20th.
Houston is now preparing the team for the track season but is already scheduling and making goals for next year’s cross-country season. Houston plans to maintain the culture of quality and character Genesis United has come to stand for.
“Certainly the dedication and character and those types of aspects that you also find in the Bible in the verses are also crucial to success in running. That type of dedication that you get from your faith ties in perfectly in running,” he said. “Perseverance especially.”