Mount Dora Christian Academy (MDCA) is excited to announce Kolby Tackett as the head football coach and to welcome him back to the MDCA Bulldogs family.
Tackett returns to MDCA after head coaching successes at Oviedo High School and, most recently, at Middle Tennessee Christian School in Murfreesboro, TN. Over the last two seasons, Coach Tackett led the Middle Tennessee Christian School football program to a 17-7 record, a region championship, and the first trip to the TSSAA state semifinals in program history. In his three seasons as head coach at MDCA, the Bulldogs posted a 23-9 record. Tackett’s coaching experience also includes a stint at Harding University, his college football alma mater, where he served as the quarterbacks' coach.
Dr. Brian Mast, President of Mount Dora Christian Academy, is pleased to welcome Coach Tackett back home to Bulldog Country. Mast says, “Coach Tackett is a very talented football coach, but he also shines as a husband, a father, and a follower of Christ." Mast also says, “I told Coach Tackett that winning games is great and is a lot of fun, but my main interest lies in molding our football players into outstanding Christians. Coach Tackett brings a level of passion, love, and energy that is contagious and will spread like a wildfire around our entire campus. MDCA is happy to have the entire Tackett family back as a part of the community.”
MDCA’s Director of Athletics, Megan Ziegelhofer, says, “Having Coach Tackett back at MDCA is such a blessing. The influence he had on our former athletes and will continue to have on our current student-athletes is tremendous. His career and success as a head coach speaks for themselves. He will be a present spiritual leader and will help to continue to build a positive culture on MDCA’s campus. His intense love for teaching the game of football while impacting the lives of young people will be a great asset to Mount Dora Christian Academy’s athletic program.”
Tackett replaces head coach Mike Kintz who led the Bulldog football program to three consecutive Sunshine State Athletic Conference State Championship appearances. Coach Kintz has accepted a coaching position at North Paulding High School in Georgia.
Coach Tackett, will be reunited with the MDCA community in the coming weeks as he will begin his tenure as head football coach and Director of Development for MDCA Athletics on April 17, 2023. Coach Tackett will hit the ground running as he begins preparing for spring football and the summer workout program.
"My wife and I are thrilled to be coming back to MDCA. The current and former players have laid a tremendous foundation, and we are so excited for what the future holds”, says Coach Tackett. MDCA is also happy to welcome his wife, Victoria, and their daughter Sadie back to Mount Dora, Florida.
Coach Tackett will be introduced to the MDCA football program during Chapel on Thursday, April 6, 2023.
This year, the boys' and girls' soccer teams made history at Mount Dora Christian Academy.
MDCA's soccer program began in 1996 as a co-ed team and was played in the fall season. In 1997, the team played at the varsity level, and in 1998, they had their first winning season. The soccer program soon ended in 2004 when football was introduced to MDCA. In 2017, soccer returned to MDCA with a varsity boys team and a varsity girls team as a winter sport. A few years later, in January 2020, Clayton McDaniel was hired to teach math and coach the boys’ team.
Coach McDaniel played soccer from age six, joined a club team, and played in college. "It was something I always wanted to do; I always wanted to teach and coach. I didn't know where. I didn't think I would get an opportunity as soon as I started, but I was very excited once I heard I could do it."
Because soccer was relatively new for students, Coach McDaniel worked hard to encourage students to play. "It was about getting numbers; it was anyone who wanted to try...At some point, [I thought] more soccer players will come, and we will have a good team."
"At the beginning, the students were a little hesitant," said Coach McDaniel. He told players, "just trust me, go out there, and we're going to have a good time,' and they trusted me. Sure enough, after the first couple of games, they're like, 'this is fun.' I love watching non-soccer players play soccer. It's a cool experience."
The boys' soccer team only had one win in 2020, two in 2021, and seven in 2022. "At some point, I knew if we kept working, it would turn around, and we would get there," stated Coach McDaniel. "I knew the boys would be better than the year before. Districts came out, and it was a reclassification year, and everyone got new assignments. When I looked at it, I was like, we could win. We had yet to have a winning season, and that's always been my goal, and then move on to compete in the district."
It was not until this season that Coach McDaniel asked to coach both the boys' and girls' soccer teams. "Was it a crazy idea? Yeah! Absolutely! But was it awesome? Oh, without a doubt," expressed Coach McDaniel.
Most of the girls' soccer team is younger, with seven out of eleven players in 8th & 9th grades. "I knew the girls' team had a ton of potential because of how young they were. We had a good shot. Did I think that they would go to the final 8? No! I knew there would be growing pains. We would have to get used to each other. I didn't think it would be this year that it all clicked." Coach McDaniel continued, "I wanted them to learn and improve their skills, no matter how many games we won or lost...but the momentum turned quickly, and the victories kept coming.”
When the first set of rankings came out in mid-December, the girls' team was ranked number two in the region, and no other team was close. "The goal was to win districts because that had never happened before." stated Coach McDaniel, "The girls started hot and stayed hot. They faced several big tests throughout the season but competed with accomplished and skilled teams and took them to the end."
"My proudest accomplishment was the Eustis game," shared Freshman Emmi Bowman, "Even though we lost. This was my first season, and I had a really good game which made Coach trust my abilities for this team."
About going into the district game, Eighth-grader Reese Horbal states, "I was nervous but excited, it was a first-time experience for me, and I'm grateful to have had that experience! "
The girls ended their season with 17 wins! "To go from 5 wins [last year] to 17 [this year], I can't put it into words. It was the goal, and we achieved it," Coach McDaniel reflects.
The boys ended their season with ten wins. Senior Spencer Faden said, "I knew we had a good team capable of winning districts, and I was excited to try and make it happen."
Junior Dean Schaefer shared that going into the district game, "I had very strong hopes for the game and believed in my team; that we could put up a fight against any opponent we faced."
On February 2nd, 2023, both teams made history as MDCA's first District Champions! In close matches, the girls won 3-2 over Bishop Mclaughlin Catholic, and the boys pulled a 1-0 win over Academy at the Lakes.
"I am feeling more than happy," stated Senior Miguel Cunalata, "because my only dream was to make history for my school, and I accomplished my goal this year. It is impossible to describe in simple words."
Both teams continued to the regional playoffs. The boys made it to the regional quarterfinal, and the girls reached the regional final.
"I knew we would do good, but I never knew we would go that far," stated Junior Brooke Moss. "I was excited to leave a mark on the school and have people remember the 2023 girls' team."
Junior Easton Workman states about the playoffs, "I knew automatically that we were the underdogs going into the playoff games. No one expected us to make it as far as we did, but we proved them wrong."
"I knew from the start that we had a chance to make it far and win districts. But I didn't know that we would advance so far." Freshman Katie Bayly stated, "My proudest accomplishment is winning districts and being the first team to make it to the regional final."
About the season, Coach McDaniel shared, "I'm proud of the players; they were the ones who did it. I helped along the way, but that's the beauty of soccer; it's a player's game. We are a group of football, volleyball, baseball, and softball players, and we put together two teams that won two championships. It doesn't get any sweeter than that."
Coach McDaniel did not accomplish this season's success alone, "I have to thank Coach Z for allowing me to do this. My wife, because we have a one-year-old little girl at home, and she's the reason I can do this. My assistant coaches, Daniel Whaley, Keith Vidler, goalie coach Kelly Rowswel, and athletic trainer, Ashley Butler. Lastly, I'd like to thank the players. We won two championships. What teams win them both on the same night?!"
Coach McDaniel, along with many other students, want their achievements to help grow the soccer program at MDCA. "I hope that what we accomplished grows the program. And more people come to our school to play...Soccer may not be the number one sport here, but we are paving the way to be known for our soccer teams."
"I feel proud of myself and the team for what we accomplished together. I also think we finally put our team on the map," shared Junior Dean Schaefer.
"I think it [winning districts] will open up the soccer program to more people," commented Senior Emery Schick.
About the future, Coach McDaniel states, "The boys' team will lose a lot of key players to graduation. Some have been with me from the beginning. To lose them is going to be tough. The future is bright. Adding a middle school team allows us to develop players early on. Right now, it's still new, but I don't think I will struggle for numbers anymore."
"Soccer brings me joy in so many ways," shared Junior Kayla Velez, "being able to go out on a field and give my absolute all with the best group of girls is a dream. However, the little things in between make this sport so much more enjoyable. From fun practices and serious practices, bus rides to away games, and getting rewarded for our hard work with a district championship trophy-that's what makes soccer worthwhile!"
On January 15th, 2022, the Bulldog family was directly impacted by heart disease with the passing of CFO, colleague, and friend, Mr. Bob West. A few months after Bob’s passing, a staff member came to the clinic with pain shooting down his left arm, pale and clammy or sweaty. Knowing these were probable symptoms of a heart attack, 9-1-1 was notified, and he was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, actively having a heart attack. Later that same day, he underwent a life-saving procedure. A month later, another staff member called the clinic, explaining how her husband showed symptoms and needed emergency medical treatment. Again, an ambulance was called; he actively had a heart attack, underwent a life-saving procedure, and is still with his family today. MDCA, as an organization, had the privilege to raise money over two weeks to help in the fight against heart disease for our loved ones, friends, and colleagues.
In February, MDCA participated in Kid's Heart Challenge to practice heart-healthy habits and to raise money for the American Heart Association. Our campus-wide goal was $1,500. MDCA more than doubled our goal and raised $3,138.26; P-T-A matched our donation for a grand total of $6,276.53! Thank you to Nurses Crystal Fleming and Monica Spognardi for organizing this fundraiser.
MDCA's donation has been presented to the American Heart Association in loving memory of Bob West.
Mount Dora Christian Academy & Children’s Home has appointed two new members to the Board of Trustees.
Mrs. Julie Stults was appointed to the board last fall during the MDCA&CH Board of Trustees meeting. Julie and her husband, Wayne, have been married for 35 years and live in Winter Haven, Florida. They have one son, Tripp, who is 26 and lives in Columbia, Tennessee.
“I have a deep connection and love for Mount Dora Christian Academy & Children’s Home because my father and his siblings were raised in the Children’s Home,” said Julie. “My father and mother, Jack and Beth McDonald, worked at MDCA&CH for over 20 years.” The MDCA basketball court is named ‘Jack McDonald Court’ in honor of Julie’s father, Jack. The Stults Media Center is named in honor of Julie’s in-laws, Gentry and Jeanette Stults.
“I am humbled and honored to serve on the MDCA&CH Board of Trustees and am excited about the growth and ministry of the school and children's home,” said Julie Stults.
Mrs. Tarsha Jacobs was appointed to the board on January 1, 2023. Tarsha has been married to her husband, Michael, for 28 years, and they reside in Orlando. They have two sons, Cameron and Michael Jr., and two daughters in love. She is an avid runner, triathlete, and yoga instructor. Tarsha volunteers in the women’s and youth ministries at her church, helps feed families at the Ronald McDonald House and Coalition, and serves as a mentor to teenagers and young CPAs.
Tarsha is the President/CEO of Jacobs & Associates, CPA. After working for local CPA firms in Central Florida for 15 years, she began her own practice in 2013. Tarsha has over 29 years of experience in accounting and has provided services for clients in a range of industries, including charter schools, construction, healthcare, manufacturing, not-for-profit, professional services, and retail.
“I have known about Mount Dora Christian Academy & Children’s Home and the great support they provide to the community for many years and have enjoyed working with the school on various projects,” said Jacobs. “I look forward to serving as a member of the Board of Trustees and supporting the staff in keeping up the long-standing history of this organization as a light to the community. I hope to spread the love of our savior Jesus Christ in all that we do.”
“I am beyond excited to have Julie and Tarsha, two strong Christian women, joining our Board," said President Mast. “When I spoke with them, I loved that both of them showed a strong passion for our mission, but what I loved most was that they didn’t give me an immediate answer. They both asked me for time to take my request to God in prayer. When they finally called me and agreed to serve, I was thrilled for our community. We immediately became better as an organization.”
MDCA&CH Board of Trustees: John Starling, Chairman, Glenn McGehee, Vice Chairman, Chuck Lipford, Secretary, Hon. Joe Wild, Hal Burleson, Dr. Dorsey Hightower, Dr. Jim Carr, Julie Stults, and Tarsha Jacobs
Work has begun on the Academic Success Center.
The ASC will be life-changing for students in the Academy and residents of the Children's Home who will benefit from its services.
The Academic Success Center will not only be home to academic tutoring services on our campus. The ASC has the space available to provide classes and services including counseling, life skills training, successful parenting, financial management, developing healthy relationships, self-esteem improvement, remedial education, academic coaching, and Title I tutoring. It will also be where both students and single parents turn for counseling. Single parents will have the opportunity to attend classes on topics such as parenting skills and money management. Additionally, the facility will provide a reduced distraction testing center.
“Our new ASC will provide our students with a consistent, distraction-free environment to test, allowing us to alleviate any stress our students have about where they are going to receive Academic Support”. -Academic Success Coach, Matt McGonigal.
Students will gain self-esteem and confidence from the ASC. They will earn better grades in the classroom. Some may go to college who otherwise would not have made it due to poor grades. Most children who come into the Children’s Home program are initially behind academically. They are smart kids but just need some extra help to catch up. The new Academic Success Center on our campus will give them the tools they need to achieve their full potential, both inside the classroom and beyond.
“At MDCA&CH we take pride in the work we do to serve students and families. Meeting the needs of every student sometimes requires extra resources such as tutoring, help with executive functioning skills, counseling, or therapy, just to name a few. We also host training for those in the single parent program, houseparents, teachers, and peer counselors. The Academic Success Center will provide a facility for these services to take place.” -Head of School, Dr. Lori Hadley
The purpose is to provide a facility where multiple teaching and counseling disciplines can be conducted in an environment conducive to learning, testing, and therapeutic services.
This new center is only made possible by our generous donors. In November 2021, we launched our Giving Tuesday campaign to raise money for the Academic Success Center with the goal of raising $30,000. This was more than triple the amount we raised through Giving Tuesday. The goal was exceeded to a total of $57,000! MDCA&CH is extremely grateful to everyone who donated.
The Academic Success Center will be located in the current Burton cottage, to the left of the gym. MDCA&CH is looking forward to the many benefits that this new facility will provide.