CHESAPEAKE, VA (WTKR)- For the first time in school history, Atlantic Shores Christian School has a wrestling program.
Wednesday afternoon was picture day at the school and it included a photograph that will be etched in the record books. The inaugural Seahawks wrestling team gathered for the shoot, an idea of a program that entered the school's hallways with the arrival of head coach David Foley.
"'Hey, would you also do wrestling,'" he said of his conversation with the administration. "We talked about it with the athletic director and it manifested into what is behind us now."
Foley never wrestled and has never coached wrestling before, but he became familiar with the sport while watching his son, Blaine, compete. Blaine is a sophomore on the squad and many of his teammates are trying the sport for the first time.
"I've always been interested in contact sports since I was a young age," said Seahawk sophomore Will Bateman. "When Shores came up with a wrestling team I thought it would be cool to join."
Bateman is one of several who are getting their first taste of wrestling. Foley notes that right now, the Seahawks can fill about eight of the 14 weight classes, but are hoping to see that increase next season. As for those new to the sport, they've seen their passion grow.
"After losing a couple of times, you kind of get the urge to win," Bateman noted. "You train hard at practice and come back and win."
"It made me be more confident in myself," freshman Jake Briley added. "It made me want to be better, have a better mindset."
Each afternoon, the cafeteria at the secondary school is turned into the Atlantic Shores wrestling room. Among the folded tables and the vending machines, the Seahawks work to perfect their craft. Blaine Foley has watched his father put it all together.
"He was trying to get us our mats," Blaine said. "It was a couple months process, but he got his nose in the work and everything. He's the one who really helped us."
"Pretty much the word is efficiency," the head coach noted. "This is the cafeteria behind us. We have to do a little bit of set-up, but we're blessed to even have this."
Blaine and assistant coach Donny Ooton are the nucleus of the team, thanks to their experience. The younger Foley wrestled for several years prior to arriving at Atlantic Shores, while Ooton was a state champion in high school and collegiate All-American, wrestling for Virginia Tech and SUNY-Brockport.
"You have to be that energy, be the fun," Blaine noted of his leadership role. "You've also got to lead them when they get beat. You've got to make sure they keep their head up because they may obviously see some of their other teammates winning."
"There's going to be ups and downs, there's going to be valleys, highs and lows, but you've still got to stick to the plan and you've got to sacrifice," added Ooton.
This group of wrestlers is the first brick in the program's foundation, one that will grow to give countless Seahawks a chance to spread their wings.
"[We] have a chance to build up this program and help kids grow, develop mentally, physically, spiritually," Blaine said.
"It's pretty cool," Bateman added. "We're like the first in the books. We're going to be at the top of the list in awhile."
"I don't think they understand it quite yet, but this is ground zero. They're the start of something just awesome," the elder Foley said. "We're excited about it. We're excited to see how the Lord will lead us and progress this program."
Atlantic Shores has two matches under its belt and is scheduled to compete again on Thursday night.