Amid the sights and sounds that stir the all-too-familiar “back to school” feeling in the hearts of island youth, a beacon of hope appeared this week on the athletic field at the high school.
It was shaped like a ball.
For, as surely as the end of August means the beginning of the new school year, it also means the beginning of football season. The Bainbridge High Spartans had their first official practice of the 2013-2014 school year Wednesday, Aug. 21.
Fresh off of a two-day group retreat, the athletes spent Wednesday’s practice re-learning the basics of the game and getting a feel for their new Freshmen teammates.
“The retreat was great,” said Spartan Head Coach Andy Grimm. “The kids got here the night of the 19th, we had some activities and then camped out in our commons. We got up early and ran down to the ferry terminal where we greeted passengers.”
The environment created by the team-building training at events like the retreat are essential to the kind of coaching philosophy followed by Grimm and his staff.
“It’s very important to me,” Grimm said. “I came from a collegiate environment where they stressed the team side of things. My mentor was very much into that family concept. I took that and saw how valuable it was.”
Every year is different, of course, but the fostering of sportsmanship and camaraderie among the players are staples of the program at BHS, and Grimm and his staff are focusing on the team’s many strengths.
“The guys are really working together,” Grimm said. “It’s a very tight group. Because there are less players this year, they’ll all really have to band together.”
While it’s true the team may be smaller than previous years — about 65 players total, approximately 19 of them freshmen — Grimm maintains that will only force each and every one of his players to be better.
“The team’s a little smaller this year,” Grimm said. “That means that since we have less kids to work with, everyone will have to learn multiple positions, and younger kids will get the chance to step up.”
The lessons learned this season, of course, extend beyond the field of competition.
“It builds better life skills,” Grimm said. “They’ll learn to work with other people.”
When discussing initial impressions of the freshmen players, Grimm is very optimistic.
“I like them,” he said. “It’s a real good group, they’re very eager to learn and very cooperative with having to learn multiple positions.”
Managing a team is a job that requires a lot of help, and Grimm is quick to thank his fellow coaches, supporting staff and parent volunteers.
“I’d especially like to thank Kim Raymond,” Grimm said. “She’s the team mom who organized all of the food and drinks for the retreat. It was really helpful for me and my staff, she just took that over for us and it went great.”
The BHS Varsity Spartans will play their first home game of the season at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13.