The Holy Innocents’ volleyball team, known for getting it done on the courts with three straight titles at one point and continuous trips to postseason, has been honored for its successes in the classroom.

 Coach Taylor Noland’s student/athletes were named recipients of the 2019 American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award. 

 The award honors teams who have matched their dedication to volleyball with excellence in the classroom. 

“Meeting the award standards is an accomplishment of which coach Noland and the Holy Innocents’ volleyball student/athletes should be proud,” Bruce Taylor of the AVCA wrote in a letter to Noland. “It is our hope that Holy Innocents’ will consider the AVCA Team Academic Award an annual challenge to achieve.” 

 The Golden Bear volleyball team has and is expected to continue to achieve. The 2019 squad began practice last Tuesday with a solid roster looking to improve on last year’s Elite 8 finish. The Lady Bears could be one of the teams to beat in Class A–Private despite having no seniors on their current team. 

In other HIES sports news, football coach Todd Winter’s varsity program found a way to bridge the gap between its high school players and the middle school with the installation of the B.I.T.E. program (Bears in Training Excellence). 

The program works like this: Junior and senior football players serve as mentors, pairing up with middle school players after one of the spring practices last May. The kids then took it from there, as the “big boys” spoke with the middle schoolers about football, life in the upper school, or just life in general, as the coaches and staff sat back and let things take their course. 

In a special ceremony that signified the bond, the boys formed a half dozen groups in a circle, then three, then one big circle with coach Winter in the middle. 

The mentorship is slated to continue, as there are several events scheduled throughout the upcoming season where the kids can connect and grow. 

 “We realized there was a void with the middle school,” Winter said. “Our priority became to create a family concept with football, and I feel B.I.T.E. is an excellent idea to help us achieve the goals we’ve identified. At the first gathering, the varsity boys immediately connected with the younger boys; the bottom line is we are excited about the future of this program.”

The excitement is merited. Last fall saw good results from middle school, JV and the varsity. The varsity improved from 3-7 to 6-6 that included a trip to the Sweet 16 with only five seniors on the roster. Practice officially began for the varsity at the end of last month.

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