In this age of reboots, the Christian Preparatory Academy of Athens announced a big one this summer.

APAC is set to reinstate its football program with Hanner Shipley at the helm.

“I was looking to get involved in some degree with high school players,” Shipley said. “I noticed there was a Christian school here and I noticed they didn’t have a football program. I approached the sporting director and here we are.”

With the other Texas high schools now in the fray, Shipley knows it’s a year away. Right now, he’s laying the groundwork for this year’s new schedule with a view to playing a schedule in the fall of 2023.

Shipley, who played his high school ball at a small Christian school, is thrilled to be able to bring some of his football skills and life lessons to school in Athens.

Before moving to Athens, he attended Bible studies and trained with high school players at Mansfield. Through it all, he had a desire to coach.

“Coaching is something my family has always been involved in.” My uncle Bob Shipley is in the Texas Hall of Fame as a coach and my dad, Stephen Shipley, was also a coach.”

Hanner performed at Highland Lakes High School in west Austin and graduated from Louisiana Tech in 2019 with a degree in sociology. His college career followed a circuitous course, first at LSU and then at Abilene Christian University. He then committed to Blinn, which reopened its recruitment to four-year schools. Of those running, he chose the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.

“I’m like the Johnny Cash of college football,” Shipley said. “I’ve been everywhere.”

He was listed as a 6-foot-5, 292-pound lineman at Tech. He is considerably leaner now that he is no longer fighting in the trenches.

“I loved the school and the community of Ruston,” Shipley said.

Athens Christian Prep announced plans on June 20 to relaunch the football program. The slack year gives him some time to lay a good foundation for the Storm’s future.

“Right now we’ve had a couple of football camps and meetings and conditioning stuff,” Shipley said. “In the fall, we’ll have more meetings and go over some playbook stuff.”

Weightlifting will start in the fall and they will throw the ball.

“When spring approaches, we’ll put pads on and do some popping.” he said. “It’ll be fun.”

Shipley emphasizes the need for team unity in the revival program.

“We want to do fun things like having a movie night maybe watching ‘Remember the Titans.’ It’s a good way to get passionate about football.

The 2023 roster is still a mystery, Shipley said.

“I don’t know what we’re going to have. That’s one of the goals this fall is to excite some people and see what we’ve got.”

Fortunately, fielding a six-man squad requires far fewer players than your typical 11-man game.

“We’re not going to have the facilities like some big schools,” Shipley said. “We’re going to have to be creative, but it’s good in a way to get back to football.”

As much as the competitive aspect of building a football team, he relishes the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people.

“Another thing about being part of a small Christian school is that I can share my faith with them,” Shipley said. “I can tell them about my experiences and tell them about how Jesus Christ plays in every aspect of their lives, including football.”


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