BY SAMANTHA ELLIOTT
Playing any sport takes quite a bit of effort on an athlete’s and coach’s part. During the 2016-2017 school year, the Grosse Ile coaches and athletes sure put in effort on the fields, tracks, rinks, courts and courses. This school year, Grosse Ile athletic teams combined for a total of nine Huron League titles.
The school started strong in the fall with league titles in football, boys cross country and boys tennis. Things kept rolling in the winter with a league title in hockey and in the spring, titles were added in boys golf, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls track.
District titles came in the form of boys soccer, volleyball, wrestling and girls soccer and regional champions included girls’ tennis and boys golf. The accomplishments did not come without some hard work.
“It’s a reflection on our student athletes,” Grosse Ile Athletic Director Jim Okler said. “They work and commit themselves to the program and the coaches’ dedication and the countless hours and all their effort to help the kids succeed.”
The success does not just show up on the respective playing locations, but in the classroom too, as Grosse Ile had a host of Senior Scholar Athletes as well as players named to the Academic All State teams.
“With our league standings, we have our scholar athletes in the league and there were a ton of those this year,” Okler said. “Their academic rolls over into their athletic commitment. They want to succeed and they work hard and study hard at what they’re doing on the field as well as in the classroom.”
The coaches are right there with them.
“A lot of coaches do the same thing,” Okler said. “On their own they attend clinics and read and study on ways to improve our student athletes physically for their programs that they have.”
And it’s not just the physical aspect. On any given day, seemingly always during the spring season, weather extremes can mess with minds.
“It’s not just physically,” Okler said. “(Spring is) a tough season, so your brain has to control your thought process on handling those extremes.”
Being a part of a strong sports program is special to the athletes and each has respect for the others.
“Being a part of a Grosse Ile team means high expectations,” football player Jack McGrath said. “That being said, I think all of our teams, both men and women, used a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve our goals of being league champs. I am very proud of my teammates, coaches and self this past season for winning a Huron League Championship and the other sports programs of GIHS that did as well.”
Chasing after the goals of winning a league title and then succeeding was a rewarding feeling to both students and coaches alike.
Hockey Coach Jason Durbin’s team made it a goal from day one to set their sights on a Huron League title.
“Our kids are committed to not only working hard on the ice, but they are dedicated to working hard in the offseason by lifting weights and strengthening their core muscles,” Durbin said. “Our team was extremely dedicated to win the Huron League. It’s never easy to finish first in the Huron League, but I thought our team handled the challenge really well. The team was on a mission to win the league title and because of their effort night in and night out, we were able to do just that.”
Incoming senior Lindsay Miles has been part of many league championships on the soccer pitch and also plays basketball. Being a part of the strong tradition has been special for Miles.
“It’s been really exciting to win leagues for girls’ soccer every year since I have been in high school,” she said. “We have a great tradition of really well-trained and competitive soccer players and we do a lot with it each year.”
It is rewarding to players like Miles who have put more than just high school into the sport that they love.
“I started playing rec soccer right here at GISA when I was 6 years old and I’ve played ever since,” Miles said. “Playing in high school is so memorable because you experience it with all your friends, and that goes for every sport. I feel like because your teammates are your friends we are able to push even harder to achieve our goals such as league champions.”
Okler said there were many ingredients going into the success of the program, including the parental support in the district.
“Our parents really work with our programs and are committed to our programs,” he said. “The equipment and supplies, without the athletic boosters and parent participation, a lot of those things, getting the kids where they need to be and picking them up after activities, would be tough if we didn’t have this commitment from those people involved. From student athletes to coaches to the parents to the community; we’re all a part of that.”