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the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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Knights make playoffs in all five sports

Senior Luke Paddock takes aim at the goal in a water polo game.
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Although the Grady Knights football season, the longest of Grady’s six fall sports, came to a disappointing end the day after Thanksgiving, there is still plenty to be thankful for regarding Grady athletics. The softball and water polo teams experienced unprecedented success at the state level, and the football, cross country and volleyball teams bolstered their post-season resumés, with an eye to the future.


Jeff Cramer, the cross country coach,  said the boys and girls seasons went about as expected, with no real surprises. The girls team finished second at the city championships, and second at the Region 6-AAAA championships, behind the state champion Marist team, to advance to the state competition. Led by senior Isabelle Taft and sophomore Grace Powers, the team steadily improved its average time, from 23:27.47 at city to 23:17.40 at regions, to 22:45.43 at state, where the team placed sixth. Junior Allison Rapoport said the hard practices in the week leading up to state helped the team lower its time.

“I personally felt a lot more confident after those practices and I think the rest of the team did as well,” Rapoport said. “They definitely helped us get up those hills at state.”

For the boys team, which last year lost Zane Coburn, who received a track/cross country scholarship to the University of Georgia, junior Adrian D’Avanzo led the way at the city and regional competitions. D’Avanzo finished third overall at the APS championships with a time of 18:30.59, followed closely by senior Troy Kleber in fifth place. D’Avanzo finished 15th overall at the Region 6-AAAA championships with a time of 18:50. Cramer said the difficulty with the boys team is getting the individuals to work together and think as a team. He said the goal next year will be the same as it always has been: to advance to the state championships.



Led by team captain and first baseman Retonjah Burdette, the Lady Knights softball team made it to the state playoffs this season for the first time in the team’s history. Though the team lost to Chamblee High School, its playoff run was remarkable because the team had never even made it to the regional playoffs before, much less the statewide playoffs, according to third-year player Burdette.

“Usually we have a lot of apathetic players who don’t really care about the sport,” Burdette said.

But this year, she said, the team became a family by the end of the season. Burdette attributes the team’s success to the hard work and drive shown by the members of the team during the regular season. The team had to travel 15 minutes every day after school, except Friday, to practice at the softball field at Crim High School, the only field available to them. Many team members practiced on the weekend, too.

“Most girls took initiative to practice on their own or with each other, without the coach, so that made our season improve as well,” Burdette said.



The Lady Knights volleyball team took advantage of an influx of skilled freshmen to advance to the state playoffs, where the team’s season came to an end in the first round.

“I look forward to next season even more because we have the majority of our team returning,” head coach Audrelia Austin said. “I think we gelled very well.”

The talented freshman class helped lessen the impact of the loss of six seniors last year. The team placed second at the second annual APS tournament, which it won in 2011, thanks in large part to a rigorous practice schedule. Senior Miller Lansing, who was honored along with fellow senior Vidrine Jones at Senior Night on Oct. 2, said the team practices every day after school, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and on some Saturdays. Though the Knights didn’t win it all, they are looking forward to next year, when their lofty expectations will be raised even higher.

“We didn’t finish first, you know, but more than anything we just enjoyed playing together and enjoyed improving together,” Lansing said.



Perhaps the biggest surprise of the fall sports season was the APS Knights water polo team. The team consists of players from North Atlanta and Grady, though it is open for all APS students to join. The Grady water polo team, which was launched in the 2008-2009 school year, entered this season coming off a 2-14 record and second-to-last place finish overall. But with the addition of several new players from North Atlanta and coach Stuart Sheldon, the team was optimistic. And after enduring a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Norcross B team in the season opener, the APS Knights won three straight and finished their best regular season ever with second place in the division.

Led by top scorers senior Luke Paddock and junior Ryan Switzer, both of whom were named to the all-state teams, as well as senior Kate de Give, the APS Knights stormed into the playoffs. They beat the Lakeside B team and exacted revenge on the Norcross B1 team.  They lost to Southern Crescent but finished strong, defeating Pace Academy and the Norcross B2 team to win first place in division two and ninth place overall. Coach Stuart Sheldon was very happy with the season for three reasons.

“One, of course, everyone likes to win,” Sheldon said. “Number two is the team showed continuous improvement over the course of the year. And number three, we had 35 or so kids on the team and they all were good kids.”

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    akeeem lockhartJan 18, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    knights make playoffs in all five sports. That will be a good thing but in all five sports it will be only two sports will make the championship but i think only one of each team will play in the championship.

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    Timothy DennisJan 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Water Polo is a lost sport being played but Grady is bringing it back. Now more teens are finding it to be fun and different.

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Knights make playoffs in all five sports