The energy was palpable during the Tritons’ first-ever home football game.
Students, faculty and parents filled the stands to cheer on the team as they broke in their brand-new artificial turf athletic field, taking on the Tri-County Cougars last month. The varsity cheerleading squad cheered from the sidelines to help to keep the crowd excited.
“It was amazing to see so many people in our Atlantis community come out to support the team,” said Jerome Thompson, head football coach at Atlantis. “These athletes traveled for every game in prior seasons. They never knew the benefits of having a home crowd – or home field advantage.”
In addition to the turf field, the $2.4 million-dollar project includes a running track, modern lighting, scoreboard, fencing and bleachers. Thompson says the sports complex is a symbol of the support that the school is providing student-athletes to help them flourish both inside and outside the classroom.
“Having a field and stadium of this caliber is a big deal for student athletes at Atlantis,” Thompson said. “It signals Atlantis is not only committed to providing top-notch academic programs, but also competitive athletic teams that enable students to thrive outside the classroom as well.”
While more schools are installing artificial turf fields, Atlantis is only one of a handful of teams on the South Coast that play on turf.
“There are a number of advantages to turf fields,” said Atlantis athletic director Chad Gormly. “Grass fields need to rest, but there is almost no down time for turf fields. This allows us to use the field for more sports and for physical education classes. Turf fields also drain far better than grass, resulting in fewer game cancellations due to rain. But most importantly, turf fields provide cushioned support to help to soften impact, resulting in fewer injuries to our student athletes.”
School administrators hope the state-of-the-art field and facility will not only help ACS athletes thrive, but also attract new student-athletes to Atlantis as the athletic program matures and grows.
“I never imagined coaching at such an awesome facility. It’s a gift to me — and the players,” said coach Thompson. “As they were building the field, I remember staring at it like a kid looking at presents under a Christmas tree.”
The Atlantis football team is now in its second season as a varsity program. The young team has struggled against more experienced varsity programs, but Thompson says winning takes time. He tries to instill grit and perseverance in his players, and he teaches them to stay positive.
“I have told my athletes on numerous occasions that they are the pioneers of this football program. They are the base of the pyramid that builds this program. As the program grows, our athletes will grow by incorporating elements of off-season conditioning. I am confident we will start to see success over time as a result of their hard work and determination.”
Atlantis is scheduled to play its second home game of the season on Friday, October 5, against Roxbury Prep.
The following day, Coach Thompson and a few of his players are slated as guests on the Four Deep Talk Sports Show with Dominic Damiano. Tune in at 1320am or listen online via the WARA website or on Facebook.
The football team is sharing the field this fall with the boys and girls JV soccer teams. In future seasons, Atlantis students will be able to use the track and field for other varsity, club, middle school and elementary school sports. Physical education classes are also getting field time.
Atlantis also plans to give children across the community access to the new recreation space by partnering with other Fall River and SouthCoast organizations.