May 13th, 2011

Elementary Excellence: St. Mary Academy

Sarah Newell

CSN Staff Writer


Elementary Excellence: St. Mary Academy
photo by Chris Jung

Athletic motto shapes, embodies Monarch approach

The following feature is a part of a weekly series called "Elementary Excellence" - a set of profiles that will spotlight Louisville area Catholic elementary schools and its athletic programs, teams, traditions and excellence in all aspects of sports. Do you want your school to be featured? Send us your recommendation to editor@catholicsportsnet.com.

St. Mary Academy Grade School, founded in 2007, joined two Catholic grade schools known to the Louisville area in a distinctive way. And with that, student athletes from two parishes came together for a common goal. 

“Mother of Good Counsel found a partner with Immaculate Conception, and we were operating on two separate campuses originally,” said Athletic Director Scott Porter. "At that time, it was a unique challenge because you had kids on the same team, but the only time they would see one another was at practice. Yet, when you look up in the stands at games, you wouldn’t see one group of parents up in this corner or that corner. We came together as one.” 

And so, as the two school backgrounds collided, the student-athletes found success almost immediately. 

“Our first fifth and sixth grade football team went to the Toy Bowl that (first) year. Our motto was “One school, One team, One Heart,” said Porter. “I think for those first two years when we were on separate campuses, our sports program bonded us and brought us together more than anything. You did get everybody together.” 

In 2009, St. Mary’s Academy opened its campus doors in the Norton Commons Complex. Yet, even with a new location, the Monarchs held true to the values that they started with a couple years before. 

“They are playing for the name on the jersey, not on the back of the jersey,” said Porter. “Over the years, we were very fortunate that we never saw that “us” and “them” mentality. When we merged together as St. Mary, we all came together as one.” 

Up to present day, that spirit of unity has served the athletic department well. In a short amount of time, the Monarchs have triumphed in many sports. 

“This past year, we had our first Toy Bowl Championship,” said Porter. “We also played in the school's first championship basketball game, and we have a great chance at adding a soccer banner.” 

Porter also says he hopes to continue to get the younger kids involved to keep participation high within all sports grades 1-8.  “One of our goals as we merged together was to get the kids involved in the 1st and 2nd grade levels,” said Porter. “We have really exciting soccer, flag football, volleyball and swimming programs to make sure the little ones get involved. They learn at an early age that they are a part of something bigger than themselves.” 

And as the participation rises with the younger ages, Porter sees the opportunity for sports to continue to impact the lives of children as they get older in a positive way.

“Last year, we had one girls field hockey team. This year we had two (teams). It’s like if you build it they will come. If we offer sports, then they will stay involved. We’ve seen it with our girls’ volleyball. Two years ago we started 1st and 2nd girls grade volleyball. This year, we hope to have 3 and 4 volleyball teams at the 3, 4, 5 and 6th grade levels,” said Porter. 

Porter also says even with the kids with school and sports, he wants his student athletes develop on all levels, and that includes spiritually within the church and through community service. 

“The biggest thing is that we want the kids to be involved, not only on the field but in the church. That’s why they are going there (to that school). With all athletics, they end in a prayer. This is to  reemphasize why there are here. We want to give them as good of an experience as possible,” said Porter.

The future of the Monarchs includes the same motto that the athletic department developed from the beginning. And as fundraising, service projects and victories continue, Porter says he’s excited to see how sports impact the Monarch community. 

Said Porter: “It’s been something great to be a part of here. It’s a team effort. Overall, we want to continue to offer a good, quality sports program.”

 

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