BY THERESA SCANLON
This year marks the fifth anniversary Franciscan University of Steubenville’s membership in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference. Director of Athletics Chris Ledyard shares his insights on working with the AMCC and the positive aspects of being involved in such a solid program.
“Over the past five years, it has been obvious that our decision to join the AMCC was God’s timing and will,” Ledyard said. “There have been moments of absolute greatness within our relationship with the AMCC.”
In 2008, Franciscan athletics originally intended to join the President’s Athletic Conference due to the nearby location of the other schools. Students would have to travel no more than two hours to compete, yet the PAC did not accept schools without football teams.
“We wanted to get into a conference where we could play at a high level and where there was a possibility of a championship in each sport,” Ledyard said.
After being turned down by PAC, Franciscan sought the next closest conference: the AMCC. Having a particular bend towards sportsmanship, the AMCC is dedicated to sports for the right purpose.
“The AMCC is a conference that cares a great deal about the personal growth of each athlete,” Ledyard said. “Our primary goal is to serve the student athlete spiritually, academically and athletically. The AMCC agrees that mind, body and soul is what matters most.”
Although the schools within the AMCC follow different doctrines, Ledyard believes that there is no pushback on Franciscan’s religious affiliation. The AMCC has been a growing conference for Franciscan athletics.
“We have been placed in an environment where we have incredibly like minds as the people we work with,” Ledyard said. “The primary motivation is to attract athletes that will have an impact on the American sports culture.”
Regarding sports within culture, Pope Pius X called for sports to be properly directed. The sports culture at Franciscan blends into campus life so well that the athletes are unrecognizable. In contrast, athletes at other universities are idolized for their achievements while completely altering the culture of their schools.
“We are offering a home for athletes,” Ledyard said. “We do not want our athletes to be demigods.”
Through Franciscan’s athletic involvement with the AMCC, FUS has come to support the idea that sports are not the only goal. Sports are as important as every other activity on campus.
“Sports is a vehicle that God chooses for us to become a better person,” Ledyard said. “This is a mission field; a place where we can live the life we we’re called to.”
The honor of Franciscan sports lies not necessarily in athletic achievements or glory, but in the impact they have made on the culture as a whole, the attitudes of the fans and the behavior of the athletes.
“We must fight in an honorable way,” Ledyard said. “By going back to practice and making our best better, by constantly looking to improve ourselves, and by impacting the culture. We are making that impact through the AMCC.”