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Each school year different Adventist schools throughout British Columbia, Alberta, and sometimes the United States come together to participate in various sports programs. This year the CASA Junior Flag Football tournament was hosted by Okanagan Adventist Academy (OKAA) in Kelowna from October 17-19, 2014.

The CASA program (Canadian Adventist School Athletics) has been an important part of the Adventist school system in BC for some time. The program is designed to bring schools together in order for students to participate in a variety of sports. Although the name suggests it is merely an athletic program, participants all would agree that these weekends mean much more than the football games that are played.

2014 CASA Football Tournament

As planning begins you hear students chatter excitedly about friends who are part of the Deer Lake team, Fraser Valley, Cariboo, etc... These are people they have met in past years through the CASA program and they have kept in touch with year after year. The tournaments provide an opportunity for friendships to continue and helps facilitate new ones as well. The students feel connected to one another as they develop a sense of community and in turn belonging. No matter the outcome on the field, the students come to have fun, make new friends, and enjoy the CASA experience.

The spiritual component is a very strong aspect of the CASA program. A praise and worship band that consisted of OKAA alumni and CUC students provided music for the weekend that allowed the students to learn new praise songs and sing the familiar ones as well. Local youth pastors provided vespers programs on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night as well as a complete Church service on Sabbath. Students were given the opportunity to worship together as a community church consisting of many different schools.

These weekends require many resources in order to make it a success. The organizers (at Okanagan Adventist Academy) must provide meals, sleeping accommodations, spiritual programs, and facilitate football games. It is a wonderful feeling to watch as alumni, students, constituent members, parents, teachers, and friends all help out to prepare every meal. This is not limited to just the OKAA community. Teachers, students, and parents from traveling schools can often be found in the kitchen coming together to help out where needed. Students also tep up to the plate, showing the initiative to help out with emptying full garbage cans, changing old table cloths, taking down or setting up chairs, and cleaning the fields when we are done playing games. Students learn the value of helping out where needed and the benefit of coming together as a team regardless of where they are from.

This year I had the privilege of watching 300 people from Port Hardy, Burnaby, Fraser Valley, Vernon, Armstrong, Victoria, Kelowna, Williams Lake, and Lacombe all come together under one roof. Among the 300 people were 20 teams filled with excited students. As amazing as it was to watch them play football over the weekend it was even more amazing to hear their voices unite as they sang praises to God and watching them work together while fostering new and old friendships.

You may only hear about the Football, Volleyball, or Soccer when it comes to CASA events. Though that is an aspect of these weekends I hope see that it is so much more than a sports tournament. I strongly encourage you, if you ever have the opportunity, to attend a CASA weekend. Without a doubt it will be an amazing experience. Year after year I watch as teachers and parents sacrifice valuable time in order to supervise, drive, coach, or even support a school. I am confident they do this because they too realize the value behind each CASA weekend.

John Max Brodin

Okanagan Adventist Academy, CASA Jr. Flag Football Coordinator

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