Success Unlimited Academy broke ground on its proposed Elite Athletic Academy on Tuesday, but the dream for the facility started almost two decades ago in the mind of athletic director Bill Granger.
“My wife (Cindy) and I sat down and talked about it in the early 2000s,” Granger said. “That conversation led to one thing: how can we get these athletes focused on the things I know they need to be successful? How can we get them away from the pipe-dream people that want to sell them on the dream that every player will be in the NFL, Major League Baseball or the NBA? Keep that dream alive, but push them to be the best they can be, the foundation for the future.”
That foundation, Granger believed, was an institution within an institution that promoted athletics. Several years earlier, as a defensive coordinator at Sidney Lanier, he observed first hand the success of LAMP, a magnet program that took up a wing on the top floor of Lanier.
“Maybe that triggered my thought process,” Granger said. “Why not have an athletic magnet? Look at the multibillion dollar industry it is.”
Now, years later, he sold Success Unlimited founder and headmaster Susan Alred on the idea that an athletic academy can function as a part of the overall academic program.
“We’re excited about the possibility of having our own facility where we can train our student-athletes,” she said. “We’ve been building the athletic program for many years but added football last year and it was very apparent we needed a place for these players to condition and get prepared for the next level. As we began to see that dream unfold, we decided that we really needed a place where we could really mentor these kids on a daily basis, on and off the field and in the classroom.
“This is creating a place for us to be able to move the children out of the general population and work with them one on one and guide them and teach them academically to make sure they’re make sure they’re making all the right moves for the scholarships available to them.”
For an additional fee, the student-athlete that becomes a member of the Elite Athletic Academy will receive specialized instruction to prepare them both academically and athletically for life after high school. Among the minimum requirements will be participation in two sports each year, but the athletic participation fees for those two sports are included in the Elite Athletic Academy fee.
“When a recruiter, or anyone, comes in and wants to talk to these athletes about their next step, I want them to be prepared,” Granger said. “What is their GPA, their ACT, has the (NCAA) Clearinghouse been taken care of? And I want them to be able to communicate. One-word answers? That’s what anybody can give.”
The student-athletes will participate in the same curriculum as other SUA students but will have specialized electives – based on their own goals and interests – in sports-oriented subjects.
“The difference is through the electives,” Granger said. “You just use athletics as the catalyst for the elective they want to go into.”
The groundbreaking ceremony was for the creation of a new 3,600-square foot facility adjacent to the gym that will house the school’s weight room and training facility for the Elite Athletic Academy. The facility is scheduled for completion this summer.
“Susan has always had amazing foresight, not only the needs of the community but what is most important for the students that she serves,” said Josh Myers, president of the SUA board of directors. “It started out as a small dream years ago and now it’s exciting to see it come to fruition. There’s an opportunity where there are a lot of athletes in Montgomery that have a ton of talent but maybe need a little more help academically. This is an opportunity to help them get focused on academics in a Christian environment to help them excel in the areas that they maybe see themselves taking as a career path.”