Clayton School Wins State Championship In Emerging Sport

By: Shannon Mann

William Shakespeare might have summed it up best when he wrote in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Though she be but little, she is fierce!”

Granted the Bard might not have realized his words from this famous play would come to represent a small, private school’s journey to the top some 500-years later, but that’s exactly the depiction for LifeSpring Academy in Clayton.

On May 7, 2018, the LifeSpring Academy Lions won the North Carolina Class CAASC Ultimate Frisbee State Championship.

It might not seem that strange for a small school to take a state championship, but when that school only started the program in 2017, and came in dead last in the league their first season, it suddenly seems like the script for a Hollywood movie.

Blake Evans, a middle-school, core curriculum teacher, was approached in January 2017 to coach the start-up team. “I didn’t even know it was a sport so I had to look everything up,” said Evans. He said he fell in love with the game and has been playing and coaching ever since.

While Ultimate Frisbee hasn’t been around as long as some of its better known rival sports like football and soccer, it has continued to grow in popularity since its start in the 1960s in New Jersey.

Today, middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities across the globe participate in this non-contact, disc sport.

Comprised of both male and female athletes ages 11-17, LifeSpring Academy’s season consisted of 16 games against public, private and charter schools from across the state.

Dalton Parker, an 8th grader at LifeSpring Academy, said he started the sport to get in some more cardio exercise.  “After a couple weeks of playing I began to love the sport and competitive rush,” said Parker.

Thomas Glenn, a second year player, also touts the sport for its conditioning, but the high school junior realizes the impact of this year’s season on his teammates. “It makes it feel that much better knowing you have been through the rough times,” Glenn said.

The Lions faced Holly Springs in the Eastern Division Championship; then competed against Woods Charter of Chapel Hill for the Division II title. The team then traveled to Burlington to play against Clover Garden Charter School for the CAASC State Championship game.

With roughly 15% of the school’s 120-member student body playing on the team, Evans contributes the team’s success to many factors such as a strong pre-season conditioning program and the desire of his team to give their best every day. “I contribute the overall success to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the grace and mercy he extends to us,” said Evans. “This has meant the world to our team. They saw first-hand the hours, blood, sweat and tears pay off after winning it all.”