Christendom brings back softball, adds cross country teams

Softball is coming back to Christendom College this spring.

As part of a recent expansion of the Front Royal school’s athletic program, Christendom will field a varsity softball team this season after scrapping the program in 2005. The school will also add men’s and women’s cross country teams this fall, marking the first time the sport has been offered at Christendom.

“We had softball in the past and we had to discontinue it, but we have the athletes that want to compete,” Christendom athletic director Josh Petersen said Thursday. “We have a great sophomore pitcher as well as a lot of other good softball athletes, so we thought it was the appropriate time to start the program back up again.”

Petersen said the process for adding new programs to Christendom’s athletic offerings – which also includes men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and men’s rugby – began under the guidance of former athletic director Chris Vander Woude. Petersen took over as AD last August and he said he has worked closely with Vander Woude – who still serves as the Crusaders’ men’s basketball coach – in handling the challenges that come with adding new programs.

“When you get into softball then you’re looking at fields that we don’t have, so we have to rent fields from the city. You have to get in touch with umpires that we haven’t had relationships necessarily with before,” Petersen said. “Even practicing — practicing is a whole different animal when you’re playing softball than when you’re playing soccer out on our fields. You have to schedule around. Adding sports just multiplies everything you have to keep an eye on.”

Christendom softball’s 2015 season was supposed to begin Saturday with a home game against Baptist Bible College but that game has been canceled due to poor field conditions and likely won’t be made up, Petersen said. The Crusaders won’t open their season until March 18 and this spring will serve as an exhibition year for the program.

Christendom is a member of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) and the Shenandoah-Chesapeake Conference, and many Crusaders athletic programs also compete against NCAA Division III schools and bible colleges.

The softball program, which is coached by Mike Brown, is scheduled to host Division III Trinity College on the softball field next to Bing Crosby Stadium this spring in what could be Christendom’s only home softball game this season.

“This softball season I have 10 games scheduled and they’re five doubleheaders basically,” Petersen said. “So we just want to get out there, let the girls get a chance to warm up and then we’ll … see how the season goes, and then ramp up the schedule for next year. And that’s what we’ll do for cross country. We’ll join a few meets. We won’t host any events but we’ll let our runners get out there and see how we do and then make decisions from there in how to best proceed to next year.”

Petersen said Christendom is planning to construct a cross-country course which, along with the additions of the softball and cross country programs, will come on the heels of a renovation to Crusader Gymnasium this past December that included the addition of new exercise and weight equipment.

The school also completed construction of its own rugby pitch last April.

Christendom’s recent athletic expansion could create a bigger draw for potential students, Petersen said.

“Even on a personal level I came here because I knew I would have the chance to play soccer and baseball,” said Petersen, who graduated from Christendom in 2001. “So Christendom is unique, and then we can get those athletes that maybe either couldn’t or didn’t want to play at the D3 level, but they still get the opportunity to come here and play and it doesn’t take over their lives like it would at an NCAA school. They have an opportunity to do other things beside sports all day long.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com