Jackson Victors Standouts Join Mississippi College Basketball Team
January 22, 2013
Homeschooled athletes around the USA often go unnoticed by the media and usually don’t attract a huge fan base.
That was the case with basketball standouts Andrew Fehrenbacher and Denny Weeks of the Jackson Victors, a Christian organization promoting sports for homeschooled Central Mississippi athletes. Their home games were played at Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson and went on the road to play local schools, including Hartfield Academy, East Rankin Academy, Central Hinds Academy, Jackson Academy, and five other homeschooled teams around Mississippi.
This fall, Fehrenbacher and Weeks went off to college, but remained on the same team.
They’re the first homeschooled players on his Mississippi College basketball team, says MC Choctaws head coach Don Lofton. “Both of these guys are solid students and even better people,” he says. “The MC freshmen are fine Christian young men and are both outstanding teammates.”
Averaging 18 points per game for the Jackson Victors last season, Fehrenbacher first caught the attention of Lofton when the Jackson resident joined a Mississippi College hoops team camp on the Clinton campus one summer.
Another talented member of the Victors, Weeks averaged 11 points per game and dished out plenty of assists as the team’s starting point guard in 2012.
Both young men are making adjustments as Mississippi College students and members of the Choctaws basketball team. Instead of being stars on the hardwood at the A.E. Wood Coliseum, they’re quietly developing their game at practices and cheering for their teammates from the bench.
A 19-year-old business major from Madison, Weeks didn’t need to be recruited very heavily before deciding to enroll at Baptist-affiliated Mississippi College. “I wanted to go to a Christian college with Christian values,” he said. “MC was the right fit for me.”
A communications major and music minor, Fehrenbacher also discovered a home at MC and plunged into many activities besides basketball. A violin player since the age of 5, he sings in the men’s glee club choir, is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and served as a summer orientation leader. Andrew plans to attend physical therapy school after earning his bachelor’s degree in four years.
Unable to get much playing time this season while recovery from a hip injury, Andrew loves his MC experience so far. “I have enjoyed the wonderful people at this school I run into every day; that’s my favorite part about school, those random conversations with people you see on the Quad or in the cafeteria. It’s a great place.”
Playing with the Jackson Victors was quite a learning experience for both MC freshmen who have played on the same team since the 8th grade. “There was a group of about eight or so of us that suffered the defeats of our first seasons, but kept working and were able to enjoy many victories by the time we graduated,” Andrew said. “We all wanted to make a statement, and prove that we could be good high school athletes and still be homeschooled.”
In his seventh season as head coach of the Jackson Victors, Andrew’s dad, Jim Fehrenbacher helped guide the team to the point where they won over 20 games in back-to-back seasons. They pulled some upsets and beat some Mississippi private schools, including Winona Christian and Manchester Academy, along the way.
A former football and basketball coach at Pearl High who works full-time as a physical therapist, Jim Fehrenbacher sees a growth spurt for homeschooled sports that provide valuable lessons for young people. Nationwide, such teams have produced multiple NCAA Division I college players. Regional and national tournaments attract more than 400 basketball teams across the USA each year. And there are national tournaments for other sports.
Besides boys and girls basketball teams, the Jackson Victors field boys baseball, girls softball teams, plus girls track and boys and girls tennis teams. Their student-athletes come from Hinds, Rankin and Madison counties.
The mission of the Jackson Victors is to provide competitive sports for homeschooled athletes in grades 7-12 “in a distinctly Christ-centered environment, emphasizing the pursuit of godly character, academic excellence and mission endeavor. We undergird the role of the family and involvement of parents in the lives of their children.”
Lofton sees more homeschooled basketball players on MC’s rivals in the Texas-based American Southwest Conference these days.
“I think you will see more of them in the future,” says Lofton, who led the Choctaws to their first ASC championship during his first season as head coach in 2002-2003. “If they are like Andrew and Denny we would love to have them on our team.”
Photo: Jackson Victors basketball standouts Denny Weeks and Andrew Fehrenbacher join MC Choctaws basketball team.