Unaka High School receives A.F. Bridges award

Published 8:28 am Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Student athletes from Unaka High School recently received the A.F. Bridges Award for the 2018/2019 school year, highlighting a high standard of behavior and academic performance within the athletics program.

Principal Betsy Oliver said the award showcases the positive environment the faculty cultivates.

“I am very proud and honored,” Oliver said. “We have a great coaching staff.”

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The award focuses on the character of the athletes, as well. Oliver said no student from Unaka has had to be removed by referee within the last two years.

Out of the regional finalists for this award, Unaka was one of three in this region.

The award’s name comes from A.F. Bridges, one of the original members of TSSAA in the late 1930s.

TSSAA says they work to showcase schools that “have displayed this overall positive effort to teach, expect and demand a positive atmosphere of sportsmanship at their particular contests.”

Oliver said the award also comes with a $1,000 check towards the school.

She said their focus on academics with their student athletes is to make sure they have a secure future.

“We all want them to be a ready-graduate,” she said. “We want them to be prepared for whatever they want to do in life.”

The award comes from the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, a non-profit who works to remind athletic departments in schools that the sport should not be their only focus.

We want to continue their good reputation,” Oliver said of Unaka’s athletics.

She said it was an honor for the TSSAA to recognize the school’s efforts.

“I am glad to see the TSSAA see how great our kids are,” she said.

She also said their success as a school comes from community support.

“We are thankful for the community support,” she said. “This is a community school.”

Along with the three schools in the Appalachia region, 24 other schools across the country also received the district-level award.

Looking towards the future, Oliver said she and the rest of her faculty will continue to enforce this standard as often as possible at Unaka, promoting an atmosphere in athletics that encourage academic and personal success.