Apr 23, 2017

Our Departed Friend, Jim Pound's, Legacy Lives On

Common Sense Commentary: Jim Pound, a geologist, and a committed American patriot and strong U.S.Constitutionalist, came to the church I had just established, in a storefront building, in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1963. He was attracted to our little church to hear a sermon I had advertised in the Tallahassee Democrat titled "None Dare Call It Treason", That was the title of John Stormer's book on the rise of Atheistic Communism in Christian America. Jim was saved in our church and served there, as my partner and friend for 25 years. After we had moved to a permanent location, Jim came to me and said, "Pastor, what do you think about starting a Christian School?" My answer was, "Will you run it". He said yes and the rest is, as they say, history. Temple Baptist Church, now North Florida Baptist Church, founded North Florida Christian School, under Jim's leadership, first as Principal and later as Superintendent of three schools we founded. The first in Leon, then in Gadsden, and  Jefferson Counties (Tallavana and Aucilla); Kindergarten through High School in all three counties. Long after I had retired and returned to Texas, Jim called me, in 2002 and said, "Pastor, I'm starting another school". I said, "where? We already started one in Leon and the two adjoining counties?" Jim said, "No, there is one more, Wakulla County." Jim was as old as me, but he still had another school in his heart... he had to get out. So he founded and ran Wakulla Christian and got it going strong enough to survive and then God called Jim home ... where he is probably God's man in charge of inspiring more Christian Schools down here amidst the dust and grime of the world. We named the football stadium at North Florida Christian, Jim Pound Field and I see Wakulla Christian has named their baseball field after him too. Here, reported by the Tallahassee Democrat Newspaper, is what is happening at Jim's last of four schools God used him to set in motion. Talk about a life that has been used of God for good. I love you, Jim. You were a true friend. And, by the way, somebody is still doing things right at Wakulla Christian School. RB

High School Baseball
As reported in The Tallahassee Democrat Newspaper
Wakulla Christian more than an 
afterthought in the  first year

Blink and you miss it. Don’t blink and you still might.
Wakulla Springs Baptist Church is the only thing you see from Crawfordville Highway, nestled between pines that hide its existence.
Behind the church lies Wakulla Christian School, a small and unassuming community of buildings, some portable.
Behind that, with another set of pines to block its view from the road, is a baseball field.
It’s not rundown in any sense. Rather, there’s easily distinguishable craftsmanship in new brickwork, new fencing, and lighting.
The grass is bright green. The infield dirt is manicured. Sponsors signs line the outfield fence from end to end as if the program has been in existence for decades.
But this is the first year of varsity baseball and only the second overall.
And the Wakulla Christian Saints, an afterthought at the beginning of the season if a thought at all, are good.
"It’s really neat to come out on the field every day," senior Jaren Lawhorn said. "We were out here every day for two years building it. When we got here, it was nothing but dirt. We worked, more and more people came, and it is what it is now.
"It’s definitely something special. We come out to play against schools that you know have hundreds more kids and hundreds more times playing, and we’re showing what we’re made of. That’s cool."
‘Field of Dreams’
Wakulla Christian has existed for 13 years, first as a K-3 program and adding a class all the way up until this year, leading to a 12-person graduating class.
Saints athletic director Travis Bolin started an athletic program five years ago from an athletic club he created to simply teach basics of sports.
Volleyball, soccer and track and field were the first programs to operate, all at a middle-school level.
In summer of 2014, Bolin grew tired of managing a large dirt field at the back of the property, so he prayed over it. Three months later, Jaren Lawhon’s father Jason, walked up to Bolin and said, "Let’s build a baseball field."
Lawhon, an engineer, got to work immediately. Three months after that, Wakulla Christian hired Bubba Dempsey, a former Wakulla High baseball player, as coach.
"We were still in the stages of getting the field prepared," Bolin said. "We didn’t have any grass. We didn’t have anything other than dimensions and an irrigation system. Two years later, this is what we’re looking at."
Trade skills emerged from anyone and everyone at the school as the field was being pieced together. Tractor work, digging, lining fence, grass and field maintenance, irrigation knowledge, crane operation – all of it existed in some fashion from Wakulla’s Christian’s people.
"I had a dad who’d built ballparks before so he could give us dimensions and how to lay things out," Bolin said. "It was one person after the next after the next. Every time we hit a setback, something would come up to help us out of it."
The field was named Jim Pound Field after the school’s founder, who also founded North Florida Christian and helped found Aucilla Christian and Tallavana Christian.
On April 10, Wakulla Christian played its first night game and beat St. John Paul II Catholic in the bottom of the seventh inning.
That opportunity came about through the donation of lights at an estimated cost of $50,000. The crane work was done in-house.
"This whole field is a ‘Field of Dreams,’" senior Peyton Bennett said. "It has been built in two years. We’ve been out putting up the lights and working on every other detail. We can say we have a field, we have lights and we have a winning team."
Win, win, and win some more
The Saints are 17-3-1 at the moment and on a! 10-game win streak.
Wakulla Christian has two regular season games left this coming week against Franklin County and Niceville Rocky Bayou, teams it has already beaten this year.
On Thursday night’s first senior night, the Saints shut out Taylor County for the second time in a week. With two wins already over Panama City’s North Bay Haven, Wakulla Christian has four wins against District 2-4A teams this season.
The Saints’ only losses this year are twice to Port St. Joe and an 11-10 loss on the road at Class 1A No. 4 Chipley.
"People in baseball are finding out real quick that we’re not a pushover," Dempsey said. "There were schools that thought they had two wins, we go over and get off the bus and hit them in the mouth. All of a sudden, they’re in a dogfight and don’t know how to get out of it. These kids don’t quit."
Wakulla Christian was granted membership status by the FHSAA this school year, so next year it will join District 1-2A with Aucilla, Tallavana and Robert F. Munroe. The Saints have beaten all three of those schools this year as well.
Since it cannot compete for a district title this season, Wakulla Christian will head to Bradenton’s Inspiration Academy on May 5 to play in a two-day Florida Independent Christian Athletics tournament with three other schools.
After a 12-11 junior varsity season last year, the Saints want to hit the 20-win mark and perhaps end their first-ever varsity season on a high note few expected.
"For the size school we are, we’re as good defensively and at the plate as there is," Dempsey said. "We play some sub-par pitching, I get that, but we do face good pitching. We drive the ball in gaps. We run and try to put pressure on people.
"They’re having fun, they’re winning games, and they’re beating people they ain’t supposed to beat. We’re playing to play and trying to make a point. I’ll put them up against anybody."
Band of brothers
Bolin said there’s not some exquisite draw to attend Wakulla Christian and there are plenty of people within the county that don’t know the school exists.
What the school does offer is a family feel. And that carries over to the baseball field, which has drawn transfers from Wakulla High and added home-schoolers from outside the county.
The reasons vary – cut from the War Eagles’ program, told there wouldn’t be varsity playing time at another school, or simply wanting a change of scenery.
Bennett, who had played three years on varsity at Wakulla High, had a different reason.
From the age 4 of when his parents divorced, he split time living with his parents until he began living with his grandparents a few years after until now.
His mom was a drug addict that he saw once or twice a month. When she died from an overdose in July 2016, it triggered something in Bennett.
"I started looking for things to cope," Bennett said. "I had people coming into my life and I was introduced to Christ. I’d been hearing about Wakulla Christian and knew I probably wanted to be a part of something special like that. I saw the brotherhood they had."
! From the moment his mom’s death happened, every one of his current Saints teammates reached out to him before he’d even transferred. The response wasn’t the same among his previous teammates, solidifying his decision to make a change for his senior year.
He’s hitting .354 with 11 stolen bases and has just one defensive error.
"All of these guys have been there for me the whole time – from before when I was at Wakulla High and when we played in middle school, so they all knew about it," Bennett said. "When it happened, they all came to me and they didn’t have to.
"I want to be around people that care about me, especially guys that are great players, great athletes. We’re full of great athletes, but we’re full of great guys and that makes a difference for sure."
Jacob Estes, whose father and brother played at Wakulla High – Jay Estes is now a starting outfielder for Auburn – also transferred after three years with the War Eagles.
"It’s the best move I’m made," said Estes, who is hitting a team-best .468 and is 4-0 with a 0.98 ERA pitching. "This team is closer than any team I’ve ever been on, by far. I’ve played on teams in the past where everyone argued and bickered, but you can’t win like that."
A bright future
Estes, Bennett, Lawhon (.442 average) and Dempsey’s son Jacob (.407) will all graduate.
They will be big losses for the Saints, given what they’ve accomplished on the field and in leadership.
But it’s not the end of Wakulla Christian baseball. Far from it.
"I think it’s an exciting beginning to a journey," Bolin said. "We’re building something, and it’s just built around an idea of family and hard work. God has given us a ministry to reach our community and give kids an opportunity to do something they might not have been able to do.

"It’s neat to see what these boys have accomplished when we just started with a dirt patch and a prayer."

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