GAC Varsity Baseball players had the chance of a lifetime this winter: to play baseball with kids from the D.R., getting to know them on their home turf. The D.R. is known for a few things, but its love of baseball cannot be surpassed.
Through GAC athletics, students get stronger in every way. As they practice and play, our Spartans develop passions, skills, and an awareness of their ability to contribute to their peers, the school, the community, and the world.
From the youngest students through our high school graduates, GAC student-athletes participate in a wide variety of sports each season. Our highly qualified, compassionate coaches emphasize respect, teamwork, courage, integrity, and determination on and off the field. With these skills and character traits, our students have what they need to Be Greater — now and as they pursue their individual futures.
Discover how GAC athletics can help your student excel on and off the field.
My philosophy and the reason that I coach is very relational. Which I know a lot of people say, but I take it really, really seriously in building relationships with these students. Because you have a handful of very talented athletes that will continue to play after high school, but on the other hand you have another set of athletes that when they’re done, they go to college, and you only have four years to hopefully make them a better person while you have them.
“In eighth grade, I don't know, something clicked. I started playing and really enjoying what I was doing. Then I started getting noticed by the coaches and I was realizing I was not a bad player. That really helped my confidence in football and I decided to stick with it.”
Bryant-Strother is an enticing mix of speed, strength and smarts. At The Opening, a national combine that uses four metrics for a cumulative score, he had the No. 1 ranking in Atlanta and was No. 13 in the country.
“Ali is the type of athlete that every coach needs in their program. She is a strong leader and captain and sets the tone for our gym by pushing each athlete to be the best they can be,” says Coach VanderPol.
Greater Atlanta Christian star Jasmine Jones, a two-time Daily Post athlete of the year, earned another major honor Thursday when the rising senior was named the Gatorade Georgia Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year. The award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence, as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the track. Jones is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, which is announced later this month.
For the Little Laxers (1st -2nd grade), it’s a toss-up between their coaches: Varsity Girls Lacrosse players Annie Kilpatrick '19 and Kearston Dixon '21. The Elementary girls’ lacrosse program chooses two Varsity lacrosse players to coach the young team. By the end of the season, both athletes had helped coaches produce compassionate athletes ready for the next level, both on and off the field.
Chris Hinton '19 became the fifth Spartan honored with a place on the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl roster. (Since the writing of this article, his brother Myles '20 became the sixth to earn this honor.) The High School bowl game selects only 90 out of the 1.2 million football players in the nation. His Spartan predecessors have ventured out into the full scope of possibilities, including winning the 2019 NCAA College Football National Championship title to playing professional football.
Two recent Greater Atlanta Christian School alumni have been chosen to captain the U.S. Naval Academy football team for the 2019 season. Captains are elected by a team vote, and for the first time ever, 4 co-captains were chosen. GAC graduates Paul Carothers of Flowery Branch (Class of 2015) and Ford Higgins of Peachtree Corners (Class of 2016) are seniors at the Naval Academy and will lead the team side-by-side, just as they did while they were Spartans.
“Our girls need healthy, godly female role models. Sports provide so much for girls in the way of building confidence and resilience in life. To have a strong coach as a positive role model is irreplaceable.” Ms. Kristy Shelton is the Assistant Athletic Director, a veteran coach, a PE teacher of 38 years, and a mentor for female coaches on GAC’s campus.
There is more that goes into coaching than most people imagine. At times, it can be a hard and thankless job. But at GAC, coaches don’t have to do it alone. GAC Assistant Athletic Director, veteran coach, and P.E. teacher of 38 years Ms. Kristy Shelton is a lifeline for the female coaches on campus. “When I first came to GAC in 1982, there were no female coaches. When I started my coaching career in 1983, I was the only one. But at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, I got the female coaches together for a meeting, and it felt so amazing to be in that room with 26 other women who coach on our campus!” These women have found community together, bonding over their passion for building strong teams and raising godly young women. When they meet, they share ideas of things they can do with their teams to grow them athletically and spiritually.
Ms. Shelton (or “Coachy” as she is affectionately called by her students) believes in her coaches and in the critical role they play. “Our girls need healthy, godly female role models. Sports provide so much for girls in the way of building confidence and resilience in life. To have a strong coach as a positive role model is irreplaceable.” Because of their years of expertise, coaches like Ms. Shelton are able to lead their athletes to victory, both on and off the field. For Ms. Shelton, this has meant winning five state championships over the years that she’s coached. But there’s more. Says Ms. Shelton: “I also believe that our female coaches model what it looks like to be a woman of God. We’re teaching our girls to pray and be spiritual leaders. That’s a unique opportunity our girls might not get anywhere else. I know for a fact that every one of our female coaches has as their top priority to lead their girls to Christ first.”
While she no longer has a team to coach, Ms. Shelton has a new role: serving and motivating the women on the front lines. “I feel humbled in many ways to have this opportunity. Now that I’m retired from coaching myself, I’m excited to mentor these young coaches as they pour into our female athletes. I’m so proud of each one of them and hope that I can serve them in a way that will make their job a little easier.”
Head softball coach Jessica Crawford '08 was first mentored by Ms. Shelton while a GAC student. “She was a great spiritual mentor to me and was a significant part of my decision to give my life to Christ. Now, with her new role in the athletic department as a mentor to female coaches, I have the opportunity to work alongside her every day to navigate the world of molding young women into our next generation of leaders. She has been someone who I trust and can go to for guidance both athletically, and spiritually. Kristy’s support this season of all of the female sports and coaches has been unparalleled, and we are extremely blessed to have her as part of our administration.”
"We wanted our three boys to be challenged in their academics as well as athletically, in an environment that also fostered their spiritual growth. Their coaches at GAC helped them to learn to win with humility and that hard work and resiliency is beneficial in any aspect of their lives. We are very grateful for our time at GAC. Belonging to the Spartan community has been a blessing for our entire family.
“Athletics play an important and unique role in the development of our students at GAC. Our purpose is to create an environment where each student can grow physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. We want to help every young man and young woman develop into a great competitor who exhibits discipline, determination, enthusiasm, selflessness, and integrity.”