By Allen Edmonds
Those with a thirst for college basketball may not have been aware an outlet for that fever is in our own backyard, but Calvary University’s recent signing of two Belton High School grads may just give the program the legitimacy it needs to draw local fans.
New Head Coach Billy Edge believes that will be the case, but at the same time, is careful to emphasize that Jaylon Armstrong and Landon Hostetler weren’t just recruited for their hometowns.
“Calvary University is a program that is not going to sit still. We want the right kids, for the right reasons, in the right environment. This is a very fertile area and we want to see local Kansas City kids in our program. They are in our backyard!”
Armstrong, a 6-1, 180-pound sophomore transfer guard from Missouri Valley College, made the move to Calvary because of “the environment and the people at the school – I’ve enjoyed being around the players and the coaches.”
Armstrong suffered a severe ankle injury at Missouri Valley, and the experience taught him some important lessons.
“I tore most all of my ligaments in my right ankle. I went up for a rebound and tipped it out, then I came down on someone’s foot awkwardly. I’ve learned not to take the game from granted because it can get taken away at any second.”
However, he said, his life experience to this point will ease the transition to a new program.
“Being a military kid and moving several times, I’ve learned how to play in different systems as well as how the game flows. I feel like I have a better understanding of the plays from a coach’s standpoint. It has helped my basketball IQ grow a lot.”
Edge described Armstrong as a “special young talent that has so much potential. He has a knack for scoring the ball in a variety of ways. He is a three-way scorer, but his midrange is special. I want to see him grow into an even stronger finisher at the rim. He can make it look easy at times, and it comes natural for him going downhill. He is going to do big things for us as we progress.”
The coach said Armstrong has been through a lot with injuries and transferring from a different program. But, he said, “his ankle and back injuries have been adversities that have taught him to be stronger and grateful for the opportunities ahead.”
Edge sees a bright future for Armstrong. “He will be a great leader in our program over the next few years. He is very coachable on the court and gives a high level of effort. However, you wouldn’t know it at times, because he is smooth. He doesn’t have to be ball-dominant to score buckets. You can bet on Jaylon – he’s going to bring it.”
Hostetler, a 6-3, 155-pound freshman guard whose playing time at BHS was sharply curtailed by concussions, one his junior year and one his senior year, nonetheless has positive memories of the program.
“The coaches (Head Coach Dillon Tenholder and assistants Michael Aleto, Willis Reed, Daren Johnson and Daren Washington) were really easy and cool to talk to off the court,” he said. And with Calvary, it was “the environment and the coaches” that attracted him, he said. “I enjoy hanging out with all the players. I look forward to getting better individually and as a team. Also, getting to know my teammates and making a run in the Region.”
Edge is impressed with Hostetler as well.
“I love what I’m seeing early with Landon. He has come in this summer with a strong work ethic and has remained humble. There are very few days that I don’t see him putting in work with his game. He has been a great fit for our program, works extremely hard, and has a ton of potential. He’ll need to continue to get stronger and the bar will be set high for him in the weight room as he grows.”
Edge said Hosteler is an excellent shooter and has a lot of quickness for his size.
“In high school, Landon had some injuries that really set him back, but he is not going to let that keep him down. He is going to continue to get better and push himself, which will undoubtedly push his teammates to go even harder.”
For Edge, in his first year as Athletic Director and Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Calvary University, the experience will also be new.
“This is a new opportunity for me and I am excited and humbled for the prospect of growing our program to new heights. We have four competitive sports programs. We have established a great foundation with our coaches.
“Coach Jojo Wilkes is setting the stage with our Women’s Volleyball team and doing great things. Coach Jayke Maples is working hard with our Men’s Soccer program as it continues to grow. Coach Robby Bollinger has been instrumental in working with a lot of local kids and growing our Women’s Basketball program. I could say more, but I’ve got an outstanding staff.”
Edge said the men’s basketball program has a goal of “getting 1 percent, 2 percent, or better yet, 5 percent better each day. It’s about growing in Christ and yet maintaining your competitive advantage. That takes solid discipleship and strong discipline.”
The on-court work gets serious next month, but the actual work has been ongoing since his arrival, he said.
“I look forward to working with all our players. They will begin to arrive on campus in mid-August. Currently, we have eight returners with the addition of six newcomers. I’ve been on the recruiting trail since day one. You can have a lot of x’s and o’s, but you better have a few Johnnies and Joes,” he said.
Edge joined the Calvary University staff this spring with over 25 years of experience. He has spent many years coaching at a variety of levels and environments that include the NCAA DI, NJCAA DI, NAIA, & NCCAA.
As a collegiate assistant coach, some of his stops have included Kennesaw State University (2009- 2010) where he assisted them in reaching the semifinals of the A-Sun tournament and earned his mentorship under Tony Ingle. At Bevill State Community College (2005-2006) he spent his time scouting, recruiting, and fulfilling many administrative duties. At Cincinnati Christian University (2004-2005) he served as a player and student-coach.
Over the last three years he has worked to build a strong Lady Cougars girls’ basketball program in Somerset, KY, where in just the last two years they won a NCSAA Championship in 2022 and were runner up in 2023 in the East Coast Nationals.
Over the course of many years, he has ran his own fundamental basketball camps. In addition, he has been a part of many other basketball camps and clinics that have included the University of Kentucky (John Calipari and Billy Gillespie), Duke University (Mike Krzyzewski), the University of Louisville (Rick Pitino), the University of North Carolina (Roy Williams), Kennesaw State University (Tony Ingle) and Derek Anderson (Kentucky Alum) to name a few.
Other hobbies include studying the Bible, spending time with his wife and children, walking, tennis, and all things college basketball. Currently, he is writing a children’s series on the Attributes of God.
He played for two years at Cincinnati Christian University where he received his Bachelor’s Degree (2005) in Biblical Studies for the Helping Professions while earning two minors in Sports Management and Coaching. Later, he would go on to earn his Master’s Degree (2011) in Sports Science with the United States Sports Academy with honors. He and his wife, Lori, have seven children, Tristan (23), Cake (19), Blake (14), Brooke (13), Brayson (11), Porter (7), and Gunner Blade (2). Edge takes over a program that finished 2-11 in the conference and 3-21 overall this past season
“We certainly have a long way to go, and challenges ahead, but our goal will be to honor Christ and to bring championships to Calvary University. That takes great buy-in and doesn’t happen by talking about it, but by believing in what we are going to be doing about it,” he said.