By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Wildcat student-athlete success down to support, community, says athletic director

It was a good year for Richmond Hill athletics.

This past school year saw Wildcats teams win region championships in volleyball, girls soccer, girls cross country, girls track and field, girls swimming and diving, boys cross country and boys swimming and diving.

Additionally, 12 teams finished in the top 10 in state competition: game day cheer was second, first year slow pitch softball was third, girls’ track was fourth, girls’ cross country and girls’ golf were fifth, competition cheerleading was sixth, boys’ track was seventh as was girls’ dual wrestling and boys’ dual wrestling, girls’ soccer and boys’ golf were ninth and boys’ cross country was 10th.

This success at the state and region levels enabled Richmond Hill to not only finish as the top program in Region 1 but also to finish 11th statewide in the Georgia Athletic Directors Association Directors Cup standings.

While the games were played and won and lost by the student-athletes, athletic director Stacy Bennett said the all-sports trophy was shared by everyone from Superintendent Paul Brookshire to the guy working in the hardware store.

“It’s a big deal, obviously,” Bennett said. “The trophy says all-sports but it is really a testament throughout, vertically, horizontally when you’re talking about coaches, teachers, staff, front office, Board of Education, families, parents, community.

“Everybody is really supporting and pulling in the right direction,” Bennett said. “The trophy says sports on it but it really is something Richmond Hill High School and the community can be very proud of. Everyone has a vested interest in it.”

Without question Richmond Hill is academically one of the top public high schools in the Coastal Empire as is the Bryan County school system for that matter.

And it will be academics, Bennett said, that will always be at the forefront at Richmond Hill.

“Our business is education,” Bennett said.

“Every business is customer service and our customers are 15-18-year-olds.

So, when we focus on what success truly is in our profession then the scoreboards, the won-loss records and that trophy just takes care of itself.”

In an education-based athletics program it takes everyone, Bennett said, pulling in the same direction in order to enjoy the success which Richmond Hill has had not only this past school year but in previous years, too.

“If coaches don’t hold their students accountable and really focus on team GPA then that will impact test scores or academic performances,” Bennett said. “At the same time if the teachers are not willing to support and be flexible for student athletes who have to leave early to go travel and stuff like that then we couldn’t do it.

“It’s really a team effort and we’re super proud of the whole school. That’s the only way we’re going to get this (trophy) is if everybody in this building is just all in all different aspects. The entire community has a vested interest in this.”

Richmond Hill has not only one of the most comprehensive athletic programs in the state but also an extensive extracurricular program that offers nearly every student in the school an opportunity to participate in something.

The school has approximately 2,600 students with 31 varsity teams and another 16 junior varsity.

There are approximately 75 coaches and 1,150 participants including multisport athletes. The school’s website lists another 43 extracurricular clubs.

“It’s no secret if you get kids involved and you get them connected it’s much better for them,” Bennett said of the wide-range of offerings. “It could be the chorus, the band, it could be football.

“If we could just get kids connected around good people and have them find a little passion about something—it doesn’t matter what that something is—then they’re excited,” Bennett said. “They come to school and they flourish.

“Athletics is no different. We want to connect kids, give them something to be proud of, to teach them teamwork, teach them how to be leaders, hold them accountable.

That’s very important.

Let them work through adversity and really teach them some life skills. At some point that jersey is coming off. If we can equip them to go into the world socially, we’ve won.

Whether the scoreboard says we’ve won or lost, we’ve won.”

Sign up for our E-Newsletters