Norfolk Academy did plenty of winning on the athletics fields this school year, with both individuals and teams earning numerous conference and state championships.
But as the school honored student-athletes and teacher-coaches at its end-of-year Athletics Celebration on May 14, one constant theme was that winning is not the core of being a Bulldog. More important are the lifelong friendships that are built through teams, and the moral values developed through years of hard work and thinking as part of a group.
Gabby Harvey '23, who played varsity volleyball, basketball, and girls lacrosse and was a captain in all three, told the audience in Burroughs Gymnasium that she still recalls attending her first NA athletics events as a fourth grader and knowing she wanted to play for and represent the school.
Some of Gabby's teams enjoyed great success; volleyball reached the state championship for the first time last fall. But more important, each of those teams became a family.
“I am so grateful for the coaches and teams that have influenced me," Gabby said. “I have grown as an athlete, a leader, and a friend."
Liam Sullivan '23, another three-sport athlete who played soccer in the fall and ran track in winter and spring, came to NA in seventh grade. He talked about three valuable Bulldog lessons that he learned during his six years in the athletics program.
- Lesson #1: Take risks and don't be afraid to fail
- Lesson #2: Be resilient
- Lesson #3: Rely on relationships; parents, coaches, and even the school's trainers are ready and eager to help each student-athlete succeed
“If we remember these three Bulldog lessons we will always remain in the game," Liam said.
The celebration was a chance to honor seniors who have achieved much during their time as NA student-athletes. Among their achievements:
- 29 played three sports during senior year
- 17 will compete at the collegiate level
- 14 were three-sport athletes throughout their time in the Upper School
These seniors also helped Bulldog teams to great successes in 2022-23.
- Sixteen teams won TCIS conference championships
- Three teams (fall sailing, spring sailing, and winter girls indoor track) won state championships
- Two rowing boats won state titles and qualified for national competition
“More important than championships and all these great honors were the relationships that were forged on these teams and the bonds that were created between our student-athletes and their teacher-coaches that will be cherished forever," Director of Athletics Chad Byler said.
"Norfolk Academy athletics is not just about the scoreboard," Mr. Byler continued. “It’s not just about winning. It’s about you and your relationship to yourself and your family and your friends. Can you look your friends in the eye and know you were the best teammate possible? That you gave it your all every day? If you can do that with love in your heart, that’s what it means to be a Bulldog. It’s commitment, respect, toughness, and spirit."
Three special awards were announced during the celebration:
TCIS scholar-athlete awards (given to student-athletes who played multiple sports and held the highest grade point averages): Ruby Garrison '23 and Quinn Carroll '23
Excellence in Coaching Award (given to an individual who, through love of athletic competition and commitment to the overall development of Norfolk Academy student-athletes, serves as a role model for both athletes and coaches alike and advances the mission of the school through strength of character and integrity): Mrs. Antoinette Bailey, head athletic trainer