NEWS



MESSAGE FROM ATHLETIC DIRECTOR RODNEY THOMAS
Bulldog Community and Supporters,
These are difficult times, and I appreciate your patience and support as we navigate these waters. We have to balance the safety of our athletes and coaches against the desire to compete, win scholarships and forge relationships with our brethren and coaches. There is no right answer to any of this. Please continue to support all of our athletes and coaches as we work to establish a new norm.


Q&A WITH NEW ASSISTANT ATHLETIC DIRECTOR DAVID HARBIN

Tell us about your roots in Decatur.
Outside of college, I have lived in Decatur my whole life. I grew up in the Great Lakes neighborhood, where my parents still live. I started school at Clairmont Elementary School and graduated from Decatur High School. I went to college at Winthrop University, and loved my experience there, but when I graduated I had the opportunity to return to Atlanta, get a Master's from Emory and begin student-teaching at Renfroe. I was excited to come home and believe Decatur was and can be a great community to grow up, work, and live.

What sports did you play growing up?
Growing up, I tried almost every sport that was available. When I was little, the Decatur Rec did a great job creating leagues and camps for kids with all types of interests. I still have vivid memories of playing tee-ball at Oakhurst Park, Little Dribblers at Ebster, and Little Kickers at Glenlake. By the time I was at Decatur High School, I mainly focused on basketball and soccer.

What did your involvement in athletics mean to you growing up?
When I was younger, athletics was all about having fun and competition. I was fortunate to play with some very talented teammates and learn from very good coaches at DHS. For a couple of years, we were able to compete at championship levels in multiple sports. I had a great experience as a student-athlete, but it wasn't until later in life that I truly reflected on how important those experiences were to me.

How did athletics help you become the person you are today?
I was in college when I began to reflect on how important my experiences in sports were to my development as a person. A professor asked us to write an essay about a person who was influential in my life, and though I thought it was cheesy to write about sports, but once I began the reflection process, I realized how much my participating in sports shaped who I was. 

Through sports, I learned the importance of preparation. I learned to set goals. I learned the value of hard work and dedication. I learned to overcome challenges and how to approach adversity. But most importantly, I learned about people. I learned how to work with others. I learned to appreciate the relationships that emerge from participation in sports. I didn't realize it at the time, but my best friends and my role models were the people I was lucky enough to interact with every day.  

How do you spend your spare time outside of work?
Sadly, before COVID, I spent most of my time outside of teaching 7th grade at Decatur High and Renfroe Middle School athletic events... but, I love it! I decided to pursue a career in teaching, coaching, and athletic administration for two reasons. 

First, I realized how important sports were for me as a kid growing up and I wanted to be a part of creating similar experiences for others. Secondly, I really enjoy watching, talking, and thinking about sports. Like others, I love the competition, but I also like watching practices. I like observing how different coaches and teams get ready for a competition. I like hearing the conversations between players and coaches. I've really enjoyed the opportunity to watch athletes begin to play for the school at Renfroe and then see their development as they progress to the JV and Varsity levels. 

Aside from that though, I try to stay active by running and recently I've been doing some yoga. And when possible, I enjoy escaping Decatur with friends and traveling to different parts of the world (or maybe just a different part of the city). 
What do you hope to accomplish for Decatur sports as assistant AD?
CSD has done a great job providing opportunities for our students to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, and this year, Mr. Thomas has worked hard to add even more with our eSports and Flag Football programs. We have a lot of extremely talented students who work with some very dedicated coaches and staff.

One goal that I have is to find ways to continue to make our extracurricular activities a highlighted part of our overall school and community culture. We have so much to be proud of! I want to help recognize our kids, teachers, staff, and programs for the amazing work they are doing.

What is your message to Decatur athletes during this time of delay and uncertainty with COVID-19?
This is a really hard question. And like everything recently relating to COVID, what the answer is today may not be the answer tomorrow... but here's my advice for now. 
 
The first thing that I think we have to do is allow ourselves to feel all of the emotions that are surfacing because of this situation. The pandemic and subsequent quarantine have taken away so many of the things we value in athletics and extracurricular activities: set schedules, physical movement, opportunities to compete, time with friends... the list goes on.

These losses are real, and the emotions are too. It's ok and expected for us to be sad, mad, in denial, or hopeless. And while these are difficult emotions to handle, suppressing them can be even more harmful. One of the benefits of being on a team is that we all go through challenges together. Right now, it's important that we find ways to stay connected to each other. Reach out to teammates. Check-in with each other. If you're struggling, your teammates, and likely your coaches, are as well. Your willingness to listen and talk may be exactly what they need, and vice versa. The grieving process is real, it's slow, and it's necessary.

Second, we are going to have to be creative about how we move forward. Sometimes it feels like COVID hit the "pause button" in March and that things have been standing still waiting until the "play button" is pressed and everything will return to the way it was. But, the unfortunate reality is that we are now almost six months down the road and we've lost a lot during that time. We still don't know exactly how this is going to impact us, or for how long.

For that reason, I think it's important for us to start reflecting on the things we miss the most from our pre-COVID experiences and think about how we can work together to recreate those opportunities for one another. Some of the most important and impactful experiences in life happen through the most challenging situations. It's difficult to accept when we're in the moment and cliche to say, but how we respond to a challenge will greatly determine its impact. 
WHERE DOES YOUR DBB MONEY GO?
In 2019, DBB funded $25,000 worth of mini grants to the following Decatur sports programs:
 
• Softball: $1,000 for hitting instruction
• Wrestling: $4,000 for equipment to host tournaments
• Girls’ Basketball: $1,000 for team camp and fees
• Boys’ Basketball: $1,000 for team camp and fees
• Ultimate: $845 for tournament fees
• Tennis: $2,000 covering 20% of request for off-season training
• Varsity Football: $2,000 for safety upgrades (chin straps and face masks)
• All Football: $2,500 for shoulder pads
• Girls’ Lacrosse: $1,600 for misc. equipment
• All Athletes:
 - $2,100 for upright stationary bikes
 - $295.74 for weight room segment timers
 - $2,149 for Water Cow – chiller
 - DHS and RMS Volleyball: $2,000 for equipment
 - Golf: $2,500 for golf bags

 
WORKOUT WITH THE BULLDOGS
Are you and your children getting restless at home? Sit stagnant no more! Strength & Conditioning Coach Hoover and your DHS coaches are keeping the Bulldogs ready and active. Use the following link to access the DECATUR BULLDOGS VIRTUAL FITNESS PROGRAM
"Stay Fit. Stay Connected. Stay Safe. Stay Ready!" 


JUSTIN WEAVER COMMITS TO WEST POINT
Senior football standout, Justin Weaver, committed to attend The United States Military Academy. Justin is a leader in the DHS football program on and off the field. His dynamic, play-making abilities, along with his work ethic and perseverance have propelled him and the Bulldogs to great success, including a return to GHSA playoff football. Justin has played cornerback, running back, wide receiver, safety, kick and punt returner all while keeping an impressive GPA and high marks in class. We are proud of all that he has accomplished and look forward to following his career. Congratulations, Justin! Go Army and Go Bulldogs! 


KRISTON ESNARD SIGNS WITH TULANE
Congratulations to Bulldog Senior Kriston Esnard, who committed to play football at Tulane University next year. Kriston has been a top-rated kicker and punter nationally over the last couple years. We are excited about this opportunity for him to continue his career and education at Tulane. 
 
Kriston also appeared in a recent Atlanta Journal Constitution article as one of Georgia’s top kickers.  Congrats Kriston -- Go Tulane and Go Bulldogs!


ALDEN WRIGHT COMMITS TO SEWANEE BASEBALL
DHS baseball player Alden Wright has committed to Sewanee: The University of the South to continue his education and baseball career. Congrats Alden and Go Tigers!


JOIN OUR DBB MEETINGS
DBB meetings are held the second Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the DHS Activities Building. The next meeting is Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m. If you’re interested in attending, please contact Stephanie Clark.