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Only a few years in the making, the athletic program at Saraland High School has grown by leaps and bounds, including the recent addition of an indoor practice facility and building that houses a weight room, locker rooms, offices and more.
The Saraland campus and some of its athletic facilities are easily visible and attract the attention of drivers along Interstate 65 near Exit 13.
Boys’ athletics director and head football coach Jeff Kelly said he knows why the Spartans program won the Nappie Award for the Best Overall Athletic Program, Mobile Public Schools. Let him count the ways.
“I think we have the chance to work in an outstanding community that supports their schools, supports their kids,” he said. “We’ve got tremendous support from our administration, superintendent Dr. [Aaron] Milner and school board, and Brent Harrison our principal. Everybody is really committed to being the best at whatever facet of education, whether it’s excellence in the classroom or providing an unbelievable experience for kids coming through and playing athletics.
“We want to try to be the best at all of it. It’s really a tremendous credit to our coaches that work really hard to try and prepare our kids across the board in different sports and we’re excited to be honored in that way.”
Saraland offers 39 athletic programs to its students, including three sports — football, baseball and volleyball — in which there is a varsity, junior varsity and freshman team. Saraland also offers esports, boys’ and girls’ bowling and girls’ flag football.
“Having the privilege of going on my 11th year here now, it’s been really neat to see the growth over the years and being able to have great people come in and be involved and be great teachers and great coaches for our kids,” Kelly said. “We try to offer our kids plenty of different opportunities to get involved in sports and fine arts and those things, and we look forward to adding wrestling this year, a new opportunity and experience for our kids.
“I think one of the things that jumps out when you come to our place is the importance placed on all facets of student life. We believe that playing sports and activities is an important part of being in high school, getting involved in extracurricular activities. Our school board and administration have given us an athletic facility where we can train. Jon Herschel, who is our strength and conditioning coach, has a big job to train all of our student-athletes. He puts together a plan to help them reach their potential, and Donna Sunnycalb, our ladies’ athletic director, does a great job leading our sports programs as well. It’s a real good atmosphere and everybody’s pulling for each other. You know that everyone has your back and it’s a neat place to be a part of.”
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