About the Columbus Crusaders

Training athletes to know Jesus Christ and honor Him on and off the field of play.

The Crusaders are a sports ministry that teaches excellence in athletics balanced with intentional character-building. We train athletes of all ages to reflect CHRIST: Commitment, Honor, Responsibility, Initiative, Service, and Truth.

CHRIST Acrostic

As has been our long-time mantra, our pursuit in all things is to “Honor Jesus.” Our sports programs seek to develop strong, fundamentally-sound athletes, showing the qualities of toughness and humility, determination and selflessness, perseverance and integrity. Our coaches at all levels strive to model Jesus Christ and mentor athletes through God’s Word.

We welcome anyone to be a part of what God is doing in and through our program. We offer competitive football, flag football, cheerleading, basketball, and rugby for athletes from kindergarten to grade 12. As an independent program, we minister to all public, private, and homeschool athletes across central Ohio.

Whether as a player, parent, coach, prayer partner, or financial partner, we invite you to join us.

Our History

In 1996, the Columbus Crusaders began a football program designed to be different. Since then, the program has grown to include multiple sports and has produced both college and professional athletes. Our goal, however, has remained unchanged: Honor Jesus!


Grace Polaris Church, then known as the Grace Brethren Church of Columbus, gave a sermon about “doing church” where you were in life and using your passions to serve Christ. As a result, Victor Melfe, Mike Cheeseman, and Tom Ensign decided to establish a youth football program called the Warriors. They went undefeated in their first season. This became the first season of the Columbus Crusaders football program. 


The Warriors change their name to the Columbus Crusaders and play their first season as a Middle School team.

Our Cheerleading program is established.


The Crusaders field their first High School football team.

Mike Stanley becomes Head Coach.


Kevin Mitchell, our first alumni, plays his senior season of football.


Construction on our first Locker Room begins. It becomes known as the Barracks. It is located behind the Grace Polaris Church at 8225 Worthington-Galena Rd, Westerville, OH 43081.


The last home game is played at Upper Arlington Jones Middle School; our home field since 1996.

The Crusaders field their first Rugby team.


The Crusaders begin playing home games at the stadium at Grace Brethren Church of Columbus.

Many traditions, including the C.H.R.I.S.T. acrostic and our HONOR JESUS motto, are established.

Jim Tressel (Ohio State Head Coach) conducts a fundraising event to benefit the Crusaders.


The Crusaders retire the #8 jersey that Jered Pyles wore. Jered was the starting quarterback and passed away after his junior year of high school. On the day of his passing, he had penned a short essay confidently stating his faith in Christ.

Learn more about Jered here


Mike Stanley steps down as Head Coach. Brian Stier becomes the new Head Coach.


Harold Jones-Quartey plays his senior season as a Crusader. Harold goes on to play football for four years at the University of Findlay. Then, gets signed to the 53 man roster of the Chicago Bears in 2015. In 2016, he is the Bears’ starting safety.


Ben Barlow (Crusader Alumnus, 2002) becomes Head Coach.

Home games begin to be played at Otterbein University Memorial Stadium.

Summer Flag Football and Cheerleading (K-8) is introduced as a Crusader sport!


Jase Robertson (A&E’s Duck Dynasty star) conducts a fundraising event for the Crusaders.


The Crusaders move to their current facility at Polaris Church (1250 Gemini Pl, Columbus, OH 43240). The current facility features a full Crossfit gym, two conference rooms, locker rooms for the Varsity and Middle School programs, athletic training room, full kitchen, large equipment building, and enough acreage to provide practice and game space for all levels of competition. 

Rugby is reintroduced as a Crusader sport. Basketball and Winter Cheerleading is introduced as a Crusader sport.


Bethany Hamilton (professional surfer) conducts a fundraising event for the Crusaders.

The Crusaders complete their 20th season.


Our Rugby program wins the Ohio Division III High School State Championship!

The Columbus Crusaders continue to HONOR JESUS!

Our Facilities

Located near Polaris Church in the Polaris commerce area of north Columbus, the home of the Crusaders features three outdoor athletic fields and a 6,000-square-foot indoor training facility with a state-of-the-art weight room developed in 2014. We also partner with Otterbein University in nearby Westerville, playing our high school football home games on the turf at Memorial Stadium.

Our Partners

We are thankful for the support of our local partners to provide the best experience for our athletes of all ages.


Ohio State Sports Medicine is the official medical provider for the Columbus Crusaders, providing onsite athletic trainers and team physicians for Columbus Crusader athletes at practices and games. Ohio State experts are available for general first aid, acute injury evaluation and treatment, concussion management, and priority specialty or physician referrals.


Polaris Church has been the home of the Crusader training facilities and fields since 2014. As the sole church in the Polaris Centers of Commerce area, Polaris Church pursues opportunities to reach out in the neighborhoods. Visit Polaris.Church for more information.


Otterbein University is the home field for our high school football team. Our high school Crusaders play under the lights at the Cardinals’ Memorial Stadium, which underwent a $2 million renovation in 2014 that included a new turf field. Find out more by visiting OtterbeinCardinals.com.

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