June 17th, 2011
Elementary Excellence: Notre Dame Acdmy.
Growing school showcases team perspective
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Athletic Director Brian McCauley says the Saints of Notre Dame Academy Grade School have come a long way since the school’s start seven years ago when St. Denis, St. Helen and St. Lawrence schools combined efforts to form one system.
“It wasn’t easy," said McCauley. “We struggled for three or four years. We wanted to be consistent so we had the school board consist of representatives from all three parishes. In addition, athletics had equal representation from all three parishes to get everyone’s perspectives. It was a challenge. But those concerns from different schools started to go away and we built the school on leadership. And we built from the same framework in sports.”
And now, after years of working together as the “Saints”, NDA has shared in success through a variety of areas within their athletic teams.
“The basketball teams have had championships the past few years,” said McCauley. “In addition, the girls volleyball has really had overall success. “Our football program has had three toy bowl wins since 2004, and we’ve been in the toy bowl with a team from 5, 6, 7, or 8th grade since becoming NDA. Also, our Track and Field team won a City Championship at the 5th and 6th grade level this year.
And McCauley says success can also be simply seen with the start of new sports offered to get more and more students involved in trying team activities.
“The school started golf about two years ago,” said McCauley. ”We have a lot of participation, and people are interested in trying different sports, not just traditional sports. With sports, our goal is to create another element for the kids to participate, and make it just that much more meaningful. Sports are a big part of going to school, period. It helps them makes them feel part of the family while getting to know their classmates.”
McCauley, whom oversees athletics with a team of sports coordinators, says he’s excited about the growing numbers of kids at the school, and, also, growth within athletics.
“We have approximately 400 kids now with growth over the last couple years,” said McCauley. “And we have lots of families involved in the school’s athletics. They work hard and diligently. The parents don’t mind stepping up and giving their time. We are fortunate in that regard.”
With ten sports for grades 3-8, and six sports for first and second graders, the Saints aim to get young athletes in the game as soon as possible.
“We have a pretty robust intramural program, and we have more and more sports opening up to kindergarten,” said McCauley. “Even starting at the pre-kindergarten level and into kindergarten we start offer t-ball, machine pitch, basketball and clinics. “And as far as facilities go, we are unique in that we have three separate facilities. Each booster club maintains its own facilities, while the Notre Dame Academy Association runs the sports.“
With three different gyms and outdoor fields, McCauley says there are a few fairly recent facility upgrades that have taken place, as well as plans for the future.
“We had an upgrade to the St. Lawrence field house and patio with an addition to lights for the football field,” said McCauley. ”And also St. Lawrence is working on getting a new concession stand and gaining more bleachers. St. Helen also has plans for their facilities.”
And with a new school year approaching in a couple months, McCauley says he wants to make sure to keep the Saints’ together as on team with a conclusive perspective on sports.
Said McCauley: “We really want to maintain a vibrant program for kids in activities. For the first few years (as Notre Dame Academy), we had to cognizant that everyone from the different schools and parishes was included. But now, I would feel after concluding our seventh year, that has all kind of gone away. It’s really now Notre Dame.”