Christian College Athletics: Q + A with Coach Marcus Moore
Marcus Moore was a two-sport athlete at Grace, playing tennis for two years and basketball for all four from 2004-2008. He is considered a legend on the hardwood, graduating second all-time for the Lancers in career points. Now, Moore serves as the Head Women’s Tennis Coach and Athletics Admissions Recruiting Coordinator. And most recently, Moore was honored as the 2021 NCCAA National Coach of the Year. Needless to say, if anyone has anything to say about Christian college athletics, it’s Moore.
We sat down with Coach Moore on the Grace Story Podcast to hear from his perspective as a player and a coach on what makes Christian college athletics – and Grace College athletics specifically – so special.
Here are some highlights of the conversation.
What is your emphasis as a tennis coach and what makes your approach distinct?
Since I began coaching Christian college athletics, I’ve always stuck to the mantra “recruit the team you enjoy losing with.” When I first came on as a coach at Grace, it was a matter of getting people with the right fit on the team. Soon we picked up some talent. And talented people want to play with talented people. Over time it started to evolve to where we found really talented girls who love the Lord and want to come to Grace for our Christian college athletics.
Fast forward to now, the most important thing is that our culture will never change. If I’m going to spend time away from my wife and 5-year-old, I’m going to do it with people I enjoy being around.
What differentiates a player’s experience in high school from their time playing for Grace?
High school tennis is more individual-based. The girls we recruit in high school are most likely the best players on their team. And so for them to come and play on a team where almost all of our players are really really talented, it’s a new dynamic for them. But what I see is that they really desire for the community and the team to be successful. So the team aspect that we promote through Christian college athletics is really a new experience for most of them.
At the beginning of the year, I let the players come together and set the expectations for our team. And that is what we measure success on. It’s not necessarily just a win or a loss. Because in tennis, you could play your best game of the season, and we could still lose as a team. Or you could play terribly, but the team still pulls out the W. And I’m okay with either of those if each individual brings their very best. So they go through that together. When you get people to buy into the good of the team, it’s just that much more enjoyable and that’s where we are at right now. I really believe that.
In addition, our girls are incredibly involved on campus. We tell them in the recruitment process, “We want you to have a footprint on campus.” And we have eight girls who absolutely do that. One of our players is even student-body president at Grace.
Over the past several years, there has been an increased emphasis on creating new opportunities for college athletes. As recruiting coordinator, what has that been like for you?
There are two things that I’m really passionate about: sports and Grace College – I truly consider it to be the best institution in the entire world. So that makes my job incredibly easy. The best part of my day is meeting with prospective students and parents and essentially just talking about who we are. I don’t really have to sell them on anything. I always say, “Grace isn’t a perfect place, but it could be a perfect place for you.”
I truly believe I have the best job on campus.
Many people don’t realize just how big your job is. How big is the scope of Grace athletics and how has it grown over the years?
About 6 years ago, we were averaging 80-100 college athletes on campus. Now we are bringing in about 140 college athletes each year. Approximately 30% of our total undergraduate students are involved in college athletics in some way. So that number is growing, and as it continues to grow, we are going to see larger graduating classes. I’m excited about the expansion of the club sports, and I look forward to building on those as time allows it.
Tell us about some of the club sports that have been added in recent years.
Two of the big ones are Esports and bowling. The sport of bowling is really coming back in style. We are excited about the great facility that we use in partnership with The Bowling Alley in Warsaw. And the second one, Esports, is growing nationally and even internationally. If you’re not involved with Esports yet, you’re essentially behind now. We are really excited about our great facility in the Gordon Health and Recreation Center and look forward to expanding the program.
We also have shooting sports and bass fishing. Families are always surprised to hear that we offer these club sports. It’s one of our best-kept secrets, and most don’t know that we have a top-of-the-line bass fishing boat for the team to use as well.
Our women’s rugby is also growing.
We have some great opportunities in club sports. These are perfect for those who enjoy athletics and team camaraderie but know that athletics in college is a different dynamic. So, for students who want to earn a little more scholarship money but don’t want the full-time commitment of being a varsity athlete, club sports are a great way to get involved in Grace athletics.
To learn more about the club, JV, and varsity sports at Grace, contact Marcus Moore at email@example.com.
To hear more of what Moore has to say about Christian college athletics, watch the full podcast interview.