Champion Christian College Welcomes New Head Basketball Coach Leonard Epps
In March, Champion Christian College hired Leonard Epps as its new head basketball coach. He hails from Louisville, Kentucky where he played for Eastern Kentucky and later for York College as a guard in York, Nebraska where he also got saved. He has previously spent four years as a head coach holding a 39-32 record, and two years as an assistant coach with a 40-26 record. Prior to coming to Champion, he was an assistant coach at Southwestern Assemblies of God University (NAIA D1) in Waxahachie, Texas, head coach and Athletic Director at Yellowstone Christian College (NCCAA D1) in Billings, Montana where he built the athletic program from scratch, the assistant men’s basketball coach at York College (NAIA) in York, Nebraska, and head basketball coach for CVJM in Loerrach, Germany. Coach Epps has coached NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) and NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) All-Region and All American players, led teams in the various conference, regional, and national tournaments, and recruited globally.
BRIEF BASKETBALL HISTORY
Coach Epps’ love for basketball developed at a young age and the skills came naturally to him. He was not always the most academic-oriented student as a child so basketball became his “way out.” As he got older, he had big dreams of becoming a college basketball player, playing professionally, and one day being a head coach. He played high school basketball as a point guard for Dunbar High School. He had a short run at being a football player, but basketball was the sport for him. Little by little, his dreams became reality. He was raised in Louisville, Kentucky in a single-parent household as one of two sons. His family did not have much so accomplishing his goals was important to him. He started out at Eastern Kentucky University and later transferred to York College. After playing his last season at York, he transferred back to Eastern Kentucky so that his family could watch him walk across that stage to get his degree. He was the first in his family to graduate from college so that moment was huge for everyone. A couple moments of glory in his playing career was that one time they were down by 1 with 8 seconds left on the clock and he scored and that his career-high of 30 points.
COACH LEONARD EPPS CAREER PATH
After graduating college, Leonard Epps became an assistant coach at York college. It was not very long before he was presented with an opportunity to play professionally in Germany after having completed some missions work with through the News Release Basketball Organization. While there, he ended up coaching three teams. Coaching was very different in Germany than in the US because the rules of the game were much different. He had two teams under him. One was for ages 18 and under, and the other was for ages 21 and under. They played mostly club ball. The area of Germany they were in was only about 5 minutes from the border of Switzerland. He believes that his love of God and basketball helped him develop the self-discipline, passion, and drive he needed to succeed academically as well as opened doors for him to be able to achieve his goals.
Coach Epps married his beautiful wife, Rabea, and has two children, Malia (3) and Jayden (1). His wife is German and their children speak German as their first language. When asked about his vision for Champion Christian College, he responded, “I am really looking forward to building and taking the basketball and athletics programs to new heights, as well as building relationships with the students and community.” He is thankful for the opportunity to work because it not only allows the Epps to be closer to family in Kentucky, but it is giving him another chance to make an impact on the lives of others. He is not only committed to helping his players grow in basketball, but has placed an importance on their academics as well. He believes that, “Character, work ethic, and academics will get you recruited over talent, but having all four will get you recruited everywhere.” Everywhere he has coached, an increase in GPAs have occurred. He does not miss opportunities to weave his faith into what he does as a coach either. He has a philosophy of being more than a basketball coach; he wants to be a life coach and mentor as well. He sets aside time for players to come to his office, talk, and get to know each other. Many players like to use the saying, “Ball is life.” Coach Epps feels that “ball is not life.” Though it is important, there are so many things that go on in life after basketball so he tries to help them with their walk with Christ so that their faith will be able to carry them on, off, and beyond the court.
Coach Epps received his Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences in 2011 with a minor in general studies with related coursework in physical training. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Education: Curriculum and Instruction from York College. Epps said,“I can say that after having traveled the world through the game of basketball, and having my Bachelor’s and soon my Master’s degrees, it is the very love for the game that has helped me accomplish those things.” He has stepped out in faith so many times, and the Lord has always been faithful to him because he has been faithful to the Lord. He has prayed and gone where he felt the Lord told him to go. God planted a dream within him and has helped him every step along the way. We are so thankful to have Coach Epps and his family with us, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for Champion Christian College and our basketball program.