Booster group ready for action

"Andy Grimm is used to football games where the other guys are bigger and faster. He spent four years of college in that situation.But that didn't stop Grimm's school, Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, from being one of the winningest small-college programs in the country. And he thinks that experience translates to Bainbridge High School.It's amazing what you can do with a winning attitude, he said. Physically, PLU didn't match up, but the kids believed what they could do.Grimm found a willing worker in Dian Aversano, whose son Andy is a BHS sophomore this year. Another of Aversano's sons was a teammate of Grimm's at PLU.They want to bring one component of the PLU program to Bainbridge this fall - the creation of an involved community to support the team.Grimm and Aversano call the program EMAS, an acronym for Every Man (or Mom) A Spartan. The name, which may sound old-fashioned, is taken directly from PLU's EMAL program, which stands for Every Man a Lute.The umbrella concept is creating a family situation, a supportive group, Grimm said. Part of the PLU philosophy is to get everyone involved.There's no quarreling with PLU's success. The Lutes are the defending NCAA Division III champions, and had won NAIA small-college championships before that. And legendary coach Frosty Westering is one of the few coaches with over 250 career victories.It's more about lifetime skills than the Xs and Os of football, Grimm said.Community support and involvement is showing up in a variety of ways. Through the auspices of the Bainbridge Human Performance Center, the school has a certified trainer, Katherine Kritta, available for all fall sports. She'll be assisted by Brian Stengle, who has a background in nursing.Another highly visible manifestation of the EMAS program is volunteer parents who actually assist at practices. Jim Nall and Mark Stutsman, both of whom have extensive football backgrounds, help run drills during all the practice sessions.We can split groups of players in half for our drills, Grimm said. This means each player gets much more individual feedback. If it's done right, the kids get better.Other community-building programs include a newsletter, a planned football banquet, and the organization of Football 101, a two-night introduction to the basics of the sport presented Monday night and tonight by the coaching staff.We had a small turnout, Aversano said of the Monday session, but we had a lot of fun. We were actually out in the back throwing footballs.The overriding purpose of EMAS, Aversano said, is to give the players and other participants the opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves.Most of these kids won't get a chance to play college football, she said. We want them to know a little greatness and experience something very special. Encouragement, support and a little admiration from our parents and community are part of this saga. "

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