The school received donations from local businesses, Flagler Palm Coast High School and First Baptist Church members.
In one of his first assignments as First Baptist Christian Academy’s new athletic director, Jeremiah Marschka needed to go shopping.
So near the end of the school year in May, Marschka rented a U-Haul and trekked nearly 80 miles south to a store in Oviedo.
There he bought four old, used wrestling mats and hauled them — 400 pounds each — back to Bunnell.
On his own, he washed them, cut them and organized them in the school’s gym.
“We didn’t have the luxury of buying brand-new stuff,” Marschka said. “We didn’t have the luxury of having someone else do it for us. If we were going to get it done, that’s how we were going to have to do it. And we did it.”
Buying the mats was just one small part of the bigger picture.
School officials recently announced that the academy is adding eight more sports to its athletic program, bringing the total to 10 teams across nine sports. Basketball was already part of the program before this year.
Tackle football, cross country, cheerleading and volleyball will be offered in the fall. Girl’s soccer and wrestling will be available in winter. And softball and baseball will be played in the spring.
Marschka said a plan that would typically take two years came to fruition in just six months. He said it was all possible thanks to fundraising and donations from local businesses and First Baptist Church members. In addition, Marschka said Flagler Palm Coast High School was able to donate equipment.
The football program and weight room, which together could cost upward of $30,000, cost under $10,000.
“We just kind of tweaked it to where we could make it happen, and it’s all coming together really well,” Marschka said. “All of this happened at a fraction of what it should have cost.”
In total, the entire revamped athletic program cost about $20,000 to get started, First Baptist Headmaster Jason Harrison said.
Harrison said sixth-graders will be able to compete in cross country, while all other sports will be available to kids seventh grade and up.
He said that although he expects hurdles to start the season, the school is excited to provide new opportunities for its students.
“The kids we got our great kids, and they should get the same athletic opportunities they’d get if they were at FPC or Matanzas,” Harrison said. “The best we can do to offer that, we’re going to try to do. There will be hardships, but that’s just kind of the things that you have to do when you’re starting a program from scratch.”