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A winning tradition is noticed: Brantley athletics is on top

Almost every sport at Brantley High school has won a state championship. The Lady Bulldogs softball team is currently working towards their fourth championship in four years. Journal Photo/Shayla Terry

By: Scott McLendon

A platform for athletes to flourish is being concocted at Brantley High School and the Yellowhammer state has taken notice. Niche.com has ranked Brantley High School’s athletic department as tenth best in the state.

The small-scale program has found itself amongst our most brimming metropolitan districts. Places first through ninth have been claimed by schools that hail from areas like Birmingham and Auburn, but nestled in at an impressive tenth is the much more minute Brantley Bulldogs.

“We’ve been on a good run recently; our girl’s softball program has been able to pull off a three-peat,” said Ashley Kilcrease, athletic director for Brantley High School.

“In baseball, we’ve been to the third round of the playoffs 11 out of the last 12 years. I think all of that success has to do with that ranking and we were excited to see it and want to keep building. I think our strength coaches do an outstanding job with our boys and girls in the way they work out and I think that has a lot to do with it.

“I think a lot of our success comes from the tradition we have and our stability. We have a lot of people that are from here that could take other jobs, but choose to be here because this is home. A lot of it has to do with legacy.

“On our softball team, we have eight out of nine starters who have had a parent to graduate from here. All of that plays together, but if I were to contribute it to one thing, I’d say it’s the strength and conditioning program. Austin Brook handles our boys’ strength and conditioning; Johnny Young handles our girls’ and they do a tremendous job there.”

Brantley is supremely disadvantaged in terms of the size of populace from which to cultivate athletes. There are 617 Bulldogs enrolled kindergarten through twelfth grade; ranked one place ahead athletically is Muscle Shoals High School, who enrolls 896 students ninth through twelfth grades alone. Despite the size, Brantley manages to retain its successful coaches.

“We just have a great community that supports everything that we athletically and academically,” said Kris Odom, principal of Brantley High School. “So with the community spirit, we have vested people who take pride in all we do. That’s one of the major parts of our success is the community influence that they have in making sure that the kids participate and do the best that they can.

“In a small town the school is the pinnacle for everything, the entire community involves themselves around the school, in athletic endeavors, or academic or even field trips. We just have a great support system in our community so people really like it and choose to stay around to allow their kids to experience, possibly, what they did here. We have a lot of students here who are fourth and fifth generation people who have gone to school here and who have taken an immense amount of pride in our school, especially our athletic programs. The expectation has been set by the people before them so the kids grow up with that expectation of representing their school the best they can.”

Currently, the Bulldog softball team continues the defense of their fourth consecutive 1A state title on Thursday, May 18 at 10:30 a.m. They will travel to a Montgomery’s Lagoon Park to face Waterloo who will be seeking to dethrone this dynasty over thediamond.