Foundation Academy Athletic Director Lisa Eaves’ journey as the leader of the Lions pride has come to an end.
“I’m going to miss my athletes, the seniors (who) are coming up and the possibility of missing their signings — when they make those decisions — and I think, overall, the culture that we’ve developed (here),” she said. “I’ll miss my coaches, a lot. I will miss the Holcombs; this will be the first time that we have not lived in the same area or worked at the same school in 27 years, so they are like family. … I will miss the (athletic directors) that I have really developed relationships with.”
LEADING THE PRIDE
Eaves arrived at Foundation Academy five years ago from Rocky Bayou Christian School in Niceville near Pensacola. She was hired in February 2018 and worked part-time to allow her time to learn the program and better adapt to the position. She took the role full-time three moths later.
Alongside her assistant athletic director, Lynn Holcomb — who also came to Foundation in 2018 — Eaves has provided the Lions with a new way of doing things: Pursue 633.
“Her legacy at Foundation will be that she always talked about spiritual growth and putting our faith with our sports and tying those (two) in together,” said Brad Lord, former football operations and athletic collegiate placement director. “She (helped coaches and athletes find) success on the field and success spiritually. I think that’s her legacy. She broke through a lot of people that way.”
Over her years in the fields of coaching and teaching, Eaves has realized leading young student-athletes toward success does not necessarily mean to have a great win-lose record. Instead, she worked hard to install a culture at Foundation in which student-athletes could work on their personal and spiritual development — alongside their coaches — while practicing their respective sports.
“I really think that in the society we live in, we get so distracted with winning on the scoreboard and hanging those banners,” she said. “As Christian coaches, our real responsibility is to lead people to Christ, to lead people to the Kingdom of God. That’s really what we are called to do. We get to do it through athletics, it’s a huge platform, and it’s a platform (where) kids will listen because they are passionate about it.”
During her time at Foundation, Eaves was the compass that kept the coaches at the school from losing their way.
“There are people out there, men and women, who understand why they coach,” she said. “We always ask ‘What’s our why?’ … In our athletic banquet, I just reminded my coaches what our why is. Our why are the girls and boys that God bring into our lives, to impact them, to make them know that they have somebody in their corner regardless of where they are.
“At the end of the day, it is about that, because you want to impact the life of a child,” Eaves said. “Yes, it’s fun winning; I love to win. You are not a great coach if you don’t want to win. But you’ve got to want to win bigger things rather than games or championships. You want to win lives (and) give the kids the experience of playing, being able to enjoy the sport and understanding who they are.”
LEAVING THE LIONS
After five years, a lot of learning, forming new relationships, reshaping a program, several season highs or personal records and bringing winning titles to several teams, Eaves is ready to step away from the athletic director chair and return home to Rocky Bayou Christian School as the new student life director.
“There’s something to be said about being home,” she said. “There are people there that I started my career with and they are still there, so they are friends that have become family to me. So, I’m really excited about being back. The seniors that are there were in sixth grade (when I left) and I’ve maintained relationships with some of them, so to be a part of their senior year is really exciting to me. But, the biggest thing it that I get to pour, spiritually, into the lives of the whole school.”
Eaves also will be moving closer to her sister and brother — who live in Louisiana — and her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren — who reside in Nashville.
“It’s going to put me much closer to my sister and brother and then, my son and daughter(-in-law) and grandbabies,” she said.
Even though she will have family closer and a familiar environment around her, leaving Foundation has proven bittersweet to Eaves.
“I think it was Dr. Seuss (who) said, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened,’ ” she said. “I’m so very grateful for these past five years, because the Lord has taught me a lot. I have developed so many neat relationships with the people who work here, with a lot of the parents (and) some of the students. I’d love to come back and see JT (Bronaugh) sign, I’d love to make (it to) a Homecoming game. There are things that I may actually have time to do, and I’m excited about that. … I’m (also) excited about slowing down a little bit and enjoy the people that God has brought into my life.”