Greenbrier High School may need to consider adding a new wing at the campus - at the rate Lady Wolfpack teams are going, Greenbrier will require additional space for all the trophies.
Since the school opened in 1996, Lady Pack athletes have dominated the fall seasons in softball and cross country. Volleyball also has become an area of expertise.
While Greenbrier baseball teams set a high standard by winning three consecutive state championships, Lady Pack softball players recently one-upped their diamond brethren by claiming a sixth straight region crown. The baseball team's region run ended at four last spring.
The Greenbrier girls' cross country team will try to earn its own six pack Wednesday in the Region 3-AAAA meet. The Lady Wolfpack is expected to run away with the trophy after running the 5K course at Wildwood Park.
Addison Price took second place in the recent Columbia County Invitational at Herlem High School. She will lead Greenbrier's team in the quest for six straight region titles Saturday at Wildwood Park.
Photo by Mike Howell
Addison Price placed second in the region cross country meet as a freshman last year, and will pace Greenbrier's quest for region title this week. Kaycee Quarles, Blaire Peters, Samantha Hardy and Anna Harris round out the Lady Pack's top five.
The Greenbrier volleyball team started slowly, winning just one match in its inaugural 1996 season; but now the Lady Pack players rule the court. The squad repeated as Area 3-AAAA champions this year, and finished the 2001 season with 33 wins, the most posted by any Greenbrier athletic team.
That record may not last long - the Lady Pack softball team stood at 31-5 prior to the Class AAAA state softball finals, which began Thursday in Columbus. Should Greenbrier advance to weekend action, the team could surpass 33 wins.
In any event, 31 victories already set the bar for prep fastpitch softball in Columbia County. Any Greenbrier heroics in Columbus would be a bonus.
The Greenbrier softball team relied this season on senior leadership from Eve Motlow, Erica Johnson, Christina Large and Heather Beale, but a strong youth movement should keep the diamond dynasty going strong: ace pitcher Kristan Glover is a freshman, third baseman Nikki Smith, catcher Ashlee LaFontaine and pitcher Fallon Downs all return, as does the entire outfield of Amy Rigdon, Katie Sutherland and Kiley Moranski.
Additionally, the junior varsity softball team had its best campaign ever, finishing with a 12-5 record.
Chronicling the success is easy. Pinpointing the reasons why the Greenbrier girls are so successful isn't complicated, either.
The story starts before the games begin.
''A lot of it is that this past year (Greenbrier athletic director) Mickey Derrick gave us use of the weight room," said Lady Pack softball coach Garrett Black. ''All the girls started lifting the week after Thanksgiving, and I think it's definitely showed in volleyball, softball and cross country."
Weight training takes care of the physical aspect of competition, but acquiring a mental edge is equally essential, and Greenbrier has that intangible honed to razor-sharpness.
''Our practices are set up to get the players ready for game situations," Black says. ''We really put a lot of pressure on our kids."
After putting in the hard work, including practices on weekends, Greenbrier softball players expect to win, although they never take triumph for granted.
''We stress that we cannot take anybody lightly, because when we show up with that 'G' on our chests, other teams are going to pick up their play," Black said after his team beat Lakeside High to take the 2001 Region 3-AAAA title.
The Lady Wolfpack cross country team takes a cue from coach Kati Smallwood. She hold rigorous workouts, but the athletes can't complain - Smallwood often runs with her athletes stride for stride during practices.
That kind of work ethic, from both the coach and athletes, has not gone unnoticed.
''We pretty much know about Greenbrier. Kati Smallwood has the program in Columbia County," said Bill Richey, Lakeside's cross country coach. ''Her kids are really dedicated, and that's where we're trying to get."
Another factor behind Greenbrier's exploits is evidenced by a Rudyard Kipling quotation that is popular at the school: ''The strength of the wolf is in the pack, and the strength of the pack is in the wolf."
Simply, a pack mentality - sticking together - has been a boon at the Brierpatch.
''That's one thing about our programs. All the teams pull for one another," Black said. ''That says a lot for the girls in this school."
A perfect example: When Greenbrier played Lakeside in the Area 3 volleyball finals, Black ended softball practice early so his players could go to the gym and cheer for the Lady Wolfpack volleyball team.
The key ingredient in the competitive mix, however, is obvious: Greenbrier's girls have athletic ability.
''The talent pool has definitely picked up," Black admits.
Even when team leaders graduate, more standouts seem to step right in.
In volleyball, Greenbrier lost four seniors from the 2000 title team, including Area 3 Player of the Year Sara Smith. Three seniors filled that void in 2001 - Becky Martin, Anna Beth Barton and Lindsey Sutherland led the Lady Pack this fall, and Sutherland secured Player of the Year honors.
Sutherland was the star, but other Greenbrier players shined as well.
''We had to work hard for that Area championship. We had some young girls stepping in with outstanding play," volleyball coach Debbie Born said, citing the contributions of freshman Kelton Banks and sophomore Jennifer Wells.
Don't expect Greenbrier to crumble on the courts in 2002 - the junior varsity had a 17-1 win-loss record this fall.
''We're looking for a couple of those youngsters to step up next year. As long as we keep the junior varsity going that will help the varsity," Born said. ''This year we had girls on the bench paying their dues and getting better every day, just like the starters did. That's what it's all about. They've got a lot of heart and a lot of character."
As a result, Greenbrier's got a lot of trophies.
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