SCCS hires new athletic director, football coach

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Mark Bates, the latest athletic director at Santa Clarita Christian School, went to the school choir’s spring performance this week. He was impressed with the concert, but he couldn’t help but notice something else: the amount of student-athletes on stage.

“I want kids to be in choir, I want them in the school play and I want them to be quarterback,” Bates said. “I want to try and make that happen as much as we can.”

Developing well-rounded student-athletes is a priority for Bates, who began working part-time as athletic director at SCCS at the start of May. He’ll take on a full-time role as AD on June 4 in addition to the head football coach position.

Bates takes the place of Josh Kristoff, who, along with former head football coach Chazz Anderson, accepted positions at Oaks Christian.

Previously, Bates has worked and coached football at LA Baptist, Oaks Christian and Village Christian. He joined the Cardinals football team last season as an assistant coach.

He was enthralled with the family-like atmosphere that SCCS has and wants to keep that vibe as he grows the athletic programs.

“I’ve been to a lot of places. I understand what good growth looks like, what bad growth looks like,” Bates said. “We want to make sure it fits the mission of the school, it serves the community and it serves the classroom.”

Athlete specialization isn’t a priority for Bates, who sees the concept as potentially damaging to student-athletes. He’d rather have as many students as possible involved in as many sports as possible.

“A sign of a healthy program is one that has some diversity but there’s a lot of kids that are involved,” Bates said. “I think the lessons that athletics reinforces what’s taught in the classroom and what’s taught at home. The more kids that are involved, the more kids that are benefitting.”

Bates will take the helm of a football team that went undefeated in the San Joaquin League last season and continued into the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 13 playoffs.

Two seniors from last year’s team signed with Division 1 programs – Noah Nnabuo (Delaware State) and Caden Brenner (University of Idaho).

The Cards could potentially be moved up a division and possibly change leagues, as well, ahead of the upcoming season.

“We’ve got a good returning group,” Bates said. “I’m really happy with where the seniors are at. I’m looking forward to working with them. They’re going to have a great year on and off the field.”

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