School wants to build character and bodies

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Mount Pisgah Christian School, which has a sterling academic reputation, is expanding its already formidable athletic footprint by adding swimming and lacrosse to its varsity sports roster.

Last year alone saw Pisgah undefeated in region football (12-1 overall), and its tennis teams had girls finish No. 1 in the state and boys No. 4. Basketball, soccer, cross country and track are among the 15 sports now offered.

Now Pisgah has begun building the swimming and lacrosse programs to add to the Patriots’ athletic opportunities for the 2014-15 school year.

Athletic Director Blake Davenport said swimming will begin with middle school and junior varsity teams for both boys and girls in the winter of 2014.

“With swim, we have the opportunity to add another sport and to add a no-cut sport to our winter season. This will give us a no-cut sport in fall, winter and spring,” Davenport said. “We definitely have a demand for it. And now the last piece we needed has fallen into place.”

The swim program will begin under the guidance of Holly Isserstedt, who has years of coaching experience at all levels. Within two years, Isserstedt plans to have a Pisgah varsity team in the water.

“The wonderful thing about beginning a new team is that the inaugural swimmers have the opportunity to create a team that will only grow and improve over the years. We hope swimming will become its own legacy at Pisgah,” said Isserstedt.

A collegiate swimmer at the University of Alabama, Isserstedt has coached at the summer team, high school and masters levels.

Prior to coming to Pisgah, she was a swim coach at Peachtree Ridge High School. In 2013, Peachtree Ridge’s squad finished No. 2 at state and her summer team was sixth in the county.

“The metro area is such a hotbed for swimming. We did the Georgia Tech County Meet a couple of weekends ago, and there were 4,400 swimmers. It’s the biggest county meet in the nation,” he said.

In the last 3 years, Pisgah has had around 80 percent student enrollment participate in sports. To get beyond 80 percent, especially in a slow sport term such as winter, Blake hopes to move that participation number up to the 85-87 percent level.

Lacrosse has been a fast-growing sport in the area for some time and will become a part of Pisgah Community Sports for the 2014-15 school year. But this sport will “grow” into the Pisgah sports program.

The lacrosse program will begin in the spring of 2015 as a part of Patriot Community Sports, which makes it open to the community. Boys’ and girls’ teams will be offered for U11 and U13. Additional teams will be offered for U9 and U15 if there is sufficient interest to field a team.

The lacrosse program will be led by Paul Bennett and Kyle Farnham. Both men have coaching experience at the youth levels and in summer select programs. Bennett plays in multiple adult leagues throughout the year.

“But you have to be strategic at the smaller schools especially before you just jump in. You have to have the right population within the school that wants to play. But you have to have the right facilities and an enrollment that will support it as well as the other spring sports.

“We don’t want to cannibalize those programs that we’ve have built and are growing well,” he said. “But we have created a lot of buzz around [lacrosse] and there’s a lot of excitement around it.”

All teams will play in the Newtown Park Feeder League.

JV teams for boys and girls will be added in 2016, with 2017 being the best case scenario for starting varsity competition.

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