What started out as a small eight team league eight years ago has become far more than anyone could ever imagine.

A group of small Christian schools felt like they couldn’t compete against the schools they were paired with in their district and in 2008 created the Sunshine State Athletic Conference.

The original SSAC eight members were Mount Dora Bible, Ocala St John Lutheran, First Academy-Leesburg, Foundation Academy, Hernando Christian, Bishop McLaughlin, St. Petersburg Canterbury and Carrollwood Day.

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Every year since, the league has expanded and continues to expand, just this week announcing the addition of Out-of-Door Academy, Bradenton Christian, Bishop Snyder, Shorecrest Prep and Fort Myers Canterbury. Out-of-Door and Bradenton Christian will be leaving District 2A-5, while Bishop Snyder, Shorecrest Prep and Fort Myers Canterbury were already listed as independent with the FHSAA.

Santa Fe Catholic won the 2015 Sunshine State Athletic Conference title in December, becoming the eighth different team to win the conference title. (Photo Courtesy of the Sunshine State Athletic Conference).
Santa Fe Catholic won the 2015 Sunshine State Athletic Conference title in December, becoming the eighth different team to win the conference title. (Photo Courtesy of the Sunshine State Athletic Conference).

The addition of the five teams increases the state’s biggest conference to 28 teams for the 2016 season and includes the addition of two new divisions and a new developmental division as well.

According to SSAC officials, the conference will be divided up into two separate leagues: the Coastal and Coral, within those leagues are three separate divisions: Central Florida, Beach, Atlantic in the Coastal League and North Florida, Orange and Bay in the Coral League.

In the Central Florida Division will be Windermere Prep, Legacy Charter, Central Florida Christian, Orangewood Christian and Lake Mary Prep.

In the Beach Division will be the Master’s Academy, Merritt Island Christian, International Community, Faith Christian and Orlando Christian Prep.

In the Atlantic Division will be Berean Christian, Boca Christian, Jupiter Christian and St. Edwards.

In the North Florida Division will be Christ Church, Bishop Snyder, First Academy, Mount Dora Christian and Ocala Christian. The Orange Division will comprise of Bishop McLaughlin,, Santa Fe Catholic, Seven Rivers and Zephyrhills Christian while the Bay Division will consist of Bradenton Christian, Keswick, Out of Door, Shorecrest and St. Stephens.

A new developmental league will debut with All Saints, St. Pete Canterbury, Fort Myers Canterbury and St. John Lutheran. These four teams were put in this division to help their programs develop better and help slowly build their programs back.