PREP OPENERS: Success Unlimited Academy looking to field team in 2018
By Tim Gayle
While other athletic directors and football coaches are scrambling in August to get their team on the field for its first game, Bill Granger is quietly and efficiently working behind the scenes with a deadline of his own.
The Success Unlimited Academy athletic director doesn’t have his own football team, but he has plans for one. And if he can field a team in time for the 2018 football season, Granger should have several options on how the Mustangs will compete before they ever take the field.
It all started with a commitment from Success Unlimited founder and headmaster Susan Alred that if Granger could raise a predetermined amount of money, she would give her approval for a football team at the small private school located just off of Vaughn Road near Eastern Boulevard.
“It starts with the commitment of your administration,” Granger said. “You can have all the money in the world and it won’t matter. Second, there is a financial burden and football is not an inexpensive sport, but it is a revenue sport. And the kids must be safe. They must be physically ready. There’s your weight room and your offseason program.”
Money comes first. Granger must raise the thousands of dollars required to start a program in a matter of months of face the likelihood of waiting at least one more year and possibly two because of scheduling requirements based on classification within certain organizations.
“You look at a donation first,” he said. “You’re looking at a time frame in the next couple of months where you need to have that raised. There are always fundraisers you can do, but you need that donation from someone who wants to get involved with the kids. So I’m out there looking for anybody that would like to.”
He has quietly secured shoulder pads and other football equipment, looking for programs discarding old equipment or schools that have closed and disbanded their athletic programs. But the first thing – even if there was no football program – is a weight room for offseason workouts for all of the athletic programs that already exist.
“We’re trying to build all of our programs and this is key for all of them,” he said. “When I walked in, I was looking for the weight room. We do have the room but we need more actual equipment. So donations there can curb that price (of purchasing new equipment). If people have weights or anything out there that they want to donate and get rid of, come see me. I have a room and we will utilize it. We will take it now.”
The Mustangs are members of the Alabama Christian Sports Conference, but there is a small window of opportunity for the athletic department to join the Alabama Independent School Association, of which the school is already an academic member. If the school adds football, joining the AISA would be a logical move, but that move would have to happen by next spring when AISA officials begin working on the 2018-2020 classification of its member schools.
If the funds can’t be raised, the decision to add football would be delayed until at least 2019 and perhaps 2020.
“You have to get it done or you have to put it off again,” Granger said. “And I’m not one for putting it off. I believe in the sport. I know there’s some controversial things about the sport but I’ve been around it so much, I don’t believe there is a single sport that can claim to do any more for a young man or even a lady that’s involved. Or the community. I’ve seen what it does for communities. And still does.
“And football leads to a pep band, which may lead to a real band; then you get a larger cheerleading squad; then you get a dance team. There is more than football than just a game. It’s also a social event.”
Granger and assistant athletic director Tom Pinkston will work on raising the money and would love to hear from anyone interested in helping, either by calling Granger at 334-676-1629 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. If the money is raised and the athletic department launches into football, the next step will be to find or perhaps build a practice field.
“That is the key to just about everything,” Granger said. “It’s not where you play. There are lights and fields all over this city but we need to practice every day. One of the challenges is to get a practice facility we can use on a daily basis.”