Dodge balls soared through the new gymnasium at Atlantis Charter School and students scattered, the sounds of squeaky shoes and laughter echoed off the walls. It was not the typical end to a high school sports awards night, but it was fun, and it was the perfect way to cap off Atlantis’s first year of varsity sports.
Earlier in the evening, student athletes, their families and their coaches, about 120 people in all, gathered in the Upper School Student Center to celebrate the students’ accomplishments. Coaches handed out awards to athletes who completed their seasons, as well as awards for most valuable players, most improved players, and good sportsmanship across all sports. Students also got their varsity letters and pins.
Atlantis has been growing its sports programs over the past few years, and this year offered varsity sports for the first time. Students and coaches went into the season knowing there would be some growing pains, and athletic d irector Chad Gormly admits there were a few, but overall he says it was a great first year.
For example, the girls’ varsity volleyball team did extremely well. They finished just two wins shy of making the playoffs. And the varsity basketball teams scored several victories throughout the season despite having only one senior on the boys’ team, and only two on the girls’ team. But according to Gormly, it’s not about the wins and losses.
“It’s about enjoying the sport, being a good person, having fun. You definitely want to improve your skills, that’s always there, but we want you to enjoy your time here with ACS. And our players showed great heart and determination. They earned respect from many of the teams they faced on the field.”
Atlantis offered six varsity sports this year, including football, volleyball, boys’ and girls’ basketball, baseball and cheerleading. There was also junior varsity volleyball and softball. And Atlantis even offered boys and girls JV soccer as part of a co-op with Joseph Case High School in Swansea.
One of the big challenges the teams faced was a lack of seniors on the teams. Atlantis’s first senior class had only 40 students, which limited the pool of potential players. This meant younger players really had to step up their game, especially on the football team which did not have a single senior player.
“I am so proud of these guys,” said head football coach Jerome Thompson. “We had a lot of freshmen step up. At other schools, these kids would be on freshman teams, but at Atlantis they played varsity. They connected with one another and worked hard together. They are true pioneers of the Atlantis football program.”
Gormly sees some talent in the eighth grade class and hopes those students will join the high school teams when they become freshmen next year.
In addition to its current high school sports offerings, Atlantis hopes to offer varsity track and cross country and junior varsity boys’ and girls’ soccer and lacrosse next year. In future years, Gormly would like to add golf, boys’ volleyball and field hockey.
This Spring, work is ramping up on Atlantis’s new waterfront athletic complex. It will feature new synthetic turf, a running track, state-of-art lighting, fencing, and bleachers. The new athletic fields, as well as the new gymnasium which opened in April, will give Atlantis teams home-field advantage for the first time. These new facilities will benefit every student at Atlantis, and will have a big impact on sports teams.
Summer recruitment efforts are already underway for the 2018-2019 school year. These efforts will serve to educate Atlantis students, their families, and others from the greater Fall River community about the Atlantis athletic program. Coaches will meet with potential players at a Fall sports meeting this month for current students and new students will learn about sports offerings at summer orientation. Other events include a summer sports camp for young Atlantis students and a volleyball clinic for all girls in the community in grades 6-12.
Gormly hopes community events, like the volleyball clinic, will draw people to Atlantis’s beautiful new campus. By opening its doors to the community, people can see what the school has to offer its students in terms of athletics and academics.
Many of the students who played this year will return next season, they will be more experienced and Gormly says he is really excited to see what they will do.