ACA athletics celebrates record-breaking year

Jonathan Bennett
Special to The Black Mountain News

The annual "Gathering of the Pride" banquet celebrates the outstanding accomplishments of the student-athletes, coaches and teams of Asheville Christian Academy. The latest edition of the event took place last week with athletic director Joe Johnson leading the fun filled night.

The evening kicked off by honoring senior Hannah Thornburg, who brought home the award for Best Sportsmanship of the Year.

"Hannah has been in a ACA Lion uniform 10 months of every year the past six years," said Johnson. "She is a consummate teammate and competes with humility and intensity, yet honoring her opponent with her best effort and respect. She has been a great example to those watching her compete."

The Breakthrough Performer of the Year Award was given to senior Cody Brady. This past year Brady blossomed into one of WNC's best base stealers, leading WNC in that category throughout the regular season. He batted over .300 and was solid on the mound as ACA's only lefty. He grew in confidence and became a solid hitter.

The Best Upset of the Year was won by the boys basketball team. In November, the boys basketball team put together an almost flawless game to upset Gaston Day in the quarterfinals of the NCISAA state basketball tournament.

This year's Best Rookie of the Year award went to freshman, Emily Grice. She packed most strikers' careers into one season, and it was her freshmen season, no less. She led the varsity soccer team in scoring, assists, finished as CAA player of the year and garnered NCISAA 2-A all-state recognition. Her speed was hard for teams to handle, and her toughness was too much for most.

The Best Moment of the Year split between two different championship teams. The ACA volleyball team took a lower seed and stomped through the NCISAA state volleyball championship field, defeating Caldwell Academy for ACA's 10th state volleyball championship. Less than a week ago, the varsity soccer team took out good teams on its way to securing the schools first soccer state championship.

The final award of the night was the Coach of the Year Award. Head volleyball coach Torri Render took home the honor. The fourth season for Coach Render at ACA proved to be a special one. Through a normally challenging regular season, her team showed signs of "championship" caliber play.