Discipline, hard work and an inspirational message

 For the 40 high school athletes on the First Baptist Academy football team, the message is clear. 

Through early morning workouts, never-ending sprints and core work, heavy bench presses and running play after play on the field, the message is clear.

Athletic Director and Coach Billy Sparacio delivers the message to his players before every practice and every game. 

They see it in bold print on the weight room walls and on their jerseys.

4 His Glory. 

Sparacio is starting his twelfth year as the school’s coach since spearheading the high school’s sports programing as athletic director.  “We watch these kids develop and have success and it all starts with creating discipline every day. It’s about giving it all you got,” he says. “It’s not ‘I’m better than you,’ it’s for His glory.”

These messages are firing up the 120-plus athletes who have been working out most of the summer, preparing for the school’s fall sports line up including volleyball, golf, cross-country, cheerleading and, of course, football. “For a school with 200 high school students in total, we’re very proud of our incredible participation,” says Sparacio who gives credit to the parents and boosters whom he calls “the football family.”

“The parents are dynamite, so supportive and trusting in the process,” he says. “They give us their sons and it’s really the whole school community supporting the programs.”

Working out in Naples’ heat can be a challenge, so the coaches start practice at 7AM, keep the athletes hydrating and rotating between indoor weight training and outdoor workout stations, socially distanced. “We have six coaches overseeing the boys, to push them to work hard but more importantly, to keep them healthy.”

Last year, the football team went undefeated and got a congratulatory video message from football legen Urban Myer and the coaches will be working for a repeat on that success this year.

A key component of the FBA support is the cheerleading program. Cyndy Gantzert and Sarai Williams are coaches for the FBA cheer team. “We encourage our girls to drink water before, during, and after each workout. It is hot outside and it is super important that the girls do not get dehydrated in this Florida heat. We also encourage a balanced diet, and not to work out on an empty stomach,” says Gantzert who has been coaching cheer for 35 years. The girls started training June 1, with virtual practices three times a week during the pandemic.” Our girls do a combination of cardio, abs, legs, and HIIT workouts to keep them in shape throughout the season.”

Best of luck to student athletes in schools throughout the Naples community.  


Meet the cheer team:

Isabella Heaslip, Emily Simoldoni, Alivia Carmen, Mya Loerop, Cami Carter, Ava Crossan , Isabella DiGrigoli, Hannah Nornberg, Danielle Ughi, Laura Vazquez, Emma Keyes, McKenna Hopla, Faith Gallardo, Sophia Leamon, Emma Fletcher, Ava Dean, Lexi Cipolla, Kalee Cipolla, Tatiana Casanovas, Grace Lowery, Ellie Loveless


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