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GAC is a great school.

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We Bleed Red and Gold.

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GAC Athletics is the Pursuit of Excellence.

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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. 

 

 

Athletics News

The Detroit Lions Go "Under the Helmet" with GAC Alum Kalif Raymond

Kalif Raymond (GAC Class of 2012) is currently playing in his seventh season in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. Raymond has battled several obstacles during his journey to professional football, and the Detroit Lions went "Under the Helmet" to learn more about his life. 

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GAC's New Head Strength & Conditioning Coach: Sean Manuel

Sean Manuel has been hired as GAC's new Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. Formerly the Director of Strength and Conditioning for UNLV's Football Program, Coach Manuel brings a vast amount of knowledge and experience to GAC. 

Read More about GAC's New Head Strength & Conditioning Coach: Sean Manuel
News & Notes: A Spring Sports Wrap-Up

A recap of all of the latest events at the conclusion of the spring sports season, including the Varsity Girls Track & Field team finishing 3rd at state, several accolades for both lacrosse teams, and an Elite 8 finish for the Varsity Baseball team.  

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By The Numbers

62

Athletic teams

14

Sports

64

State Championships

12

Athletic facilities

107

College Signees in last 5 years

26

Female coaches on campus

Mark Your Calendar

The Bradford Center

This facility hosts two indoor tennis courts, an array of basketball goals, multiple dance studios upstairs in the building, and a gym for faculty/staff to utilize. The versatility of the Bradford Center has truly been a blessing to GAC throughout its history.

Spotlight on Coaches

Spartan Spotlight: Meet Coach Thom Jacquet

Thom Jacquet is the Head Coach of the Varsity Boys Soccer team. The Spartans have won six state championships (2000, 2007, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2022) with Coach Jacquet at the helm. The most recent state title occurred this past school year in a thrilling 3-1 victory over Oconee County.

 

Thom Jacquet is the Head Coach of the Varsity Boys Soccer team.

A native from Cleveland, Ohio and a graduate of Harding University, Coach Jacquet took over the boys' soccer program in 1992. During his 30 year tenure at GAC, Coach Jacquet built a powerhouse program from scratch, and he has mentored hundreds of young men along the way.

The Spartans have won six state championships (2000, 2007, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2022), three state runner-up finishes (1998, 2006, 2011), and six final four appearances (2004, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2016, 2021) with Coach Jacquet at the helm. The most recent state title occurred this past school year in a thrilling 3-1 victory over Oconee County.

A multitude of Spartans have signed to play at the collegiate level from the boys' soccer program, including both of Coach Jacquet's sons Jack Jacquet (GAC Class of 2019, Gardner-Webb University) and Beckham Jacquet (GAC Class of 2022, Harding University). Currently a sophomore, Coach Jacquet's daughter Marin also plays soccer. 

Whether someone plays for Coach Jacquet now or thirty years ago, they all are connected together as "one" family under the GAC boys' soccer program. 

“The soccer program at GAC has the thread of family intertwined throughout our history. From the hundreds of players and families that have been a part of our past who still care and support us, to the present-day players and families who are leaving their legacy. Within those families, we have had multiple sets of brothers over the years and a sister or two as well!  Our theme for many years has been “One” and if you watched our playoff games you were able to see that play out. Our great moments down the stretch were celebrated by our team in the ultimate show of unity," said Coach Jacquet. 

 

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Spartan Spotlight: Meet Coach Jes Guarneri

It’s her first year as the Head Coach of the Girls Basketball team, and high school math teacher Jes Guarneri is already making waves in the community. This season she led her team to victory at the State Championships for the first time since 2007.

“Coach Guarneri has done a great job in her first year as our Head Girls Basketball Coach. She has worked really hard to develop her players both individually and as a team. Under her leadership, they had made great strides throughout the year, setting themselves up for a magical postseason run. In addition to her coaching, she is an outstanding teacher who invests in her students. With Coach Guarneri’s commitment excellence and genuine connection with her players, the future for GAC Girls Basketball is bright.” - Tim Hardy, GAC Athletic Director and Head Football Coach

It’s her first year as the Head Coach of the Girls Basketball team, and high school math teacher Jes Guarneri is already making waves in the community. This season she led her team to victory at the State Championships for the first time since 2007. 

Originally from New Jersey, Coach Guarneri’s passion for sports and athletic ability led her to UNC-Asheville on a basketball scholarship. After coaching collegiately for three years at Francis Marion University and holding numerous coaching positions both in New Jersey and South Carolina, she found her way to GAC through a mutual connection. Now, she’s blessing the Spartan community with her talent and heart for mentorship and basketball. 

“I saw determination and growth playing for Coach G this season. As a new head coach, she faced many adversities. But her ability to communicate well with her players and be open to trying new things contributed greatly to our success this season,” said GAC Senior and player Jillian Thomas.

“She makes sure to have an open relationship with all her players. Coach G stands up for her players and will do anything to help us learn while having fun playing a sport we all love. I am grateful I was able to be coached by Coach G for my final season playing at GAC and for all of the great memories that came from this season,” continued  Jillian.

To learn more about this outstanding educator and mentor, read through her interview below: 

Tell us a little more about your upbringing and family life. Where are you from? Where did you grow up?  
I grew up in Piscataway, New Jersey and attended Piscataway High School. My parents Lou and JoJo are NYC natives. I’m the second of five kids. I have three sisters Lisa, Jennifer, Lauren, and one brother, Daniel.

Where did you go to undergrad? Why did you choose that university? 
I went to UNC-Asheville on a basketball scholarship. I transferred going into my senior year to Wingate University where I finished my playing career and started my coaching career.

Tell us a little more about your undergrad? What is your degree in? Why?
At UNCA I was studying architecture. I had always wanted to be an architect because it combined my passions: math and drawing. When I transferred to Wingate, they didn’t offer that field, so I pursued and graduated with a degree in Marketing. 

Do you have an advanced degree? 
I am currently pursuing my Masters of Art in Math Education. 

What is your role at GAC?
I teach high school math, mainly honors geometry, and I coach the Girl’s Basketball team! Go Spartans!!
 
What drew you to GAC? Share how you found GAC and decided it was the place for you.
My great friend Robbie Wilson came to GAC about 7 years ago. I came to town from South Carolina for Robbie and Kristen’s baby shower, and while there, Robbie told me there were openings in the math department. Initially apprehensive, he urged me to at least have some conversations and apply. I applied to appease him. 

During the interview process, the Lord was working on my heart and telling me this was where I was meant to be. It was a hard decision for me because I loved where I was in South Carolina, but it took a major leap of faith to trust God and come here. 

My journey to GAC taught me that God’s plans are always better than mine!

Did you grow up playing sports? 
Yes! My whole family loves sports. I grew up having epic kickball games in the backyard. Sports were always a part of my life. I played field hockey, basketball, and softball in high school. 

What motivated you to go into coaching? 
Once I realized I couldn’t compete on the court anymore, I felt empty. Coaching was naturally the next best thing to still be involved with the thrill of competition. 
 
What do you love about coaching? 
I love the transfer of knowledge that coaching provides. Not only from me to my players, but also from them to me. I love being able to problem solve over the course of the game as well. But what I love the most are the relationships that are formed through coaching that last a lifetime!
 
What do you do to connect with and motivate athletes? 
More than anything I want the girls to have ownership of the team. I think it’s important that everyone on the team knows their voice is important. I try extremely hard to make sure they know how valuable and loved they are. 

Tell us about this state championship team. Would you describe your experience with them this season? 
I don’t know where to begin! This season was an absolute rollercoaster. At the beginning of the year, the core team members were going all around campus trying to recruit players so that we would have enough to even compete. 

Once the season started and we had the numbers, we were faced with one of the hardest schedules in the state, competing against some of the top programs. While the wins and losses weren’t in our favor early on, we took lessons away from each one of those games and continued to improve. 

The girls came ready after Christmas break, and we knew we had something special. We suffered a heartbreaking loss in the region championship losing to North Hall by one point, which placed us on the toughest side of the state tournament bracket. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we always believed we were capable. Each member of this team gave everything they had to make sure we came out on top. I couldn’t be more proud of them!

What do you love most about your job? 
I genuinely love every part of my job: teaching, building relationships with students, coaching, my co-workers... all of it!

How would you describe the culture at GAC? 
GAC is a family! I love how committed everyone is to striving for greatness in everything they do. I am constantly encouraged, supported, challenged, and loved at GAC. I couldn’t imagine a better place to work. I have made friendships that I know will last a lifetime here.

Where would someone find you outside of the classroom? What are your hobbies? 
I love to paint, from canvases to full wall murals. Painting is my favorite hobby!

What is a book you’ve read recently? 
“Acres of Diamonds” by Jentzen Franklin

What’s one thing that’s still on your bucket list? 
Skydiving! What a rush that would be.

Read More about Spartan Spotlight: Meet Coach Jes Guarneri
Meet Richard Burnett: Performance Training Coach

From the moment the sun peaks over the horizon to late in the afternoon, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Richard Burnett is on campus training and serving GAC athletes in order that they might receive the highest level of mentorship and reach their potential both on and off the field.

“Coach Rich Burnett is a true asset to the GAC campus community. He is a role model, a rare blend of high professional competence and genuine care for the students. 
 
Burnett does much more than just tend to the physical needs of our student athletes. He is intentional to connect relationally with our students as he works to build their heart and minds, as well as their bodies. He is a man with a genuine personal faith who has a desire to see each one of his athletes deepen their spiritual lives. He challenges our students to grow in their mental strength, learning to push through challenges with perseverance and toughness. Our students are not only better athletes, but also better people because of the leadership of Coach Rich Burnett.” - GAC Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Tim Hardy  

From the moment the sun peaks over the horizon to late in the afternoon, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Richard Burnett is on campus training and serving GAC athletes in order that they might receive the highest level of mentorship and reach their potential both on and off the field. 

Whether this looks like working with athletes in his finely tuned performance class or serving with students on mission trips, Coach Burnett’s unmatched work ethic and desire to make a true difference in student’s lives is what sets him apart.

Originally from Corpus Christi, Texas, Coach Burnett’s story is one of faith, determination, and passion. Four years ago, he left a position as the head strength and conditioning coach at a division 1 athletics program in South Texas to pursue a calling to serve at GAC. 

“At the time, my wife and I were both working for a school in Texas, and we knew we needed a lifestyle change. Our current situation wasn’t providing for our needs, and we felt God put it on our hearts to trust him and allow him to move,” said Burnett.
 
They came to a moment where they realized they needed to pray, live by faith, and trust that God would provide for their family.
 
“As the FCA huddle leader for the university and a 10th grade Bible study leader at our home church, I realized that I needed to do what I had been asking the student’s to do: pray and live by faith. I knew that brought the most fulfillment, and I needed to trust.”
  
After committing the request to the Lord, doors began to open. Through a mutual connection, Burnett received a call from former head strength and conditioning coach Gary Schofield offering him an assistant strength and conditioning and volleyball position at GAC, and he immediately knew it was a great fit.
 
Burnett and his wife sold their home in six hours, packed their bags, and set off for Georgia in faith that the Lord would take care of the rest.

Upon arriving at GAC four years ago, Burnett immediately felt the difference. 

“GAC was so different from what I was used to. It was just as challenging, but all of the work is much more fulfilling. The fact that we sponsor more than 20 different mission trips and send students out into the world instead of sheltering them was an affirming factor for me; that this place was truly Kingdom-minded” said Burnett. 

He began his career on campus serving under Coach Schofield and Kristy Shelton as the assistant strength and conditioning coach and assistant volleyball coach, respectively. After Schofield left and Shelton retired, he became both the head volleyball coach (leading our girl’s Varsity team to the final four last year) and eventually the head strength and conditioning coach.

Now as the Head Trainer, Burnett runs the entire Sport Performance Training Program and facilitates all off-season training as well as runs the Sport Performance summer camp offering. 

“The autonomy I have here keeps me doing what I love. People trust me with their students and the program. And it’s because so many people have invested in the program before me; namely, Coach Gary Schofield who developed this program from scratch and mentored me, showing me how to continue in the culture of excellence that he left behind. Today, I’m incredibly grateful for the volume of athletes, the quality of the program, and the amount of trust we have,” he said.

The program’s mission is to teach the core values of discipline, work ethic, commitment, integrity, and a positive Christian attitude while empowering the student to maximally develop skills that will directly translate to improved human performance and a lifetime of wellness.

“Everything we do is for the athlete. The way we try to address every athlete’s needs is strategic. The program is incredibly nuanced and has modifications to meet every person’s individualized needs depending on their sport, size, strength, limitations, etc.,” said Burnett.

And GAC athletes feel the difference, too. They know our campus and community is a special place. From the state-of-the-art facilities to the high caliber staff, all athletic programs are intentionally developed and run with the focus on each individual student’s holistic success and growth. 

“We truly put the students first. Whether it’s their nutrition, education, sleep schedule, it’s all about them,” said Burnett. “From the exercise selection, to the reps and sets, to the way we prioritize movement, conditioning, and train the different energy systems, our program is designed for each individual student’s needs.”

Throughout the years GAC has cultivated a positive, fun environment for our athletes. While the students are always challenged to grow, the culture is such that they are celebrated when they do their best.

“It’s not about being the fastest or the strongest. If you’re working hard and making progress, we’re going to celebrate you,” said Burnett. 

Coach Burnett is much more than your average strength and conditioning coach. Not only does he care about our athlete’s performance on the field, but also for their hearts. For him, faith matters above all else. 

“My greatest fulfillment is to see my athletes experience the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge in having a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ,” said Burnett.

With that, Coach Burnett leads by example. For the past three years, he’s served on the Honduras mission trip, led weekly Bible studies for faculty and staff, and has been an active participant in GAC’s student life. 

“It’s important that kids see the reality of our faith. That it’s more than just a religious belief system. It’s something that lives inside of us and completely transforms our decisions,” he said. 
 
Coach Burnett has his undergraduate and master’s in Kinesiology-Exercise Science from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He lives in Suwanee, GA with his wife, Amanda, and two kids, Samuel and Caleb.

When Coach Burnett is not at school training athletes, he enjoys being outside, serving at the Gwinnett County Jail Ministry, and attending church at Grace New Hope. In the future, Burnett hopes to visit Yosemite National Park.
 

Read More about Meet Richard Burnett: Performance Training Coach

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    Tim Hardy

    “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.”

    Athletic Director