Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Providence Christian Academy head coach Ken Robinson explains the upcoming play to his team during practice on Wednesday as they prepare for their first ever football season. Providence in Lilburn is required to play as a JV team until the year 2014.
When Ken Robinson was hired as a Greater Atlanta Christian assistant, he joined an already successful varsity program.
His new mission is much different.
Robinson, the first head football coach in Providence Christian's history, is charged with building the new football program from the ground up. He led a middle school team that went 4-3 last season, winning four of its last five games, a good transition into this season's schedule of middle-school games and junior-varsity games.
His players are more seasoned than a year ago, when the coach estimated that 50 to 60 percent of his athletes had never played the sport.
"We've got some great kids," Robinson said. "I think we've got some guys who played on the baseball state championship team. I'm encouraged by the athletic ability of our guys. They're just good people, so I love going to practice. They're eager. They've got a good attitude. And they're trying to learn.
"It's always a challenge with a new program, but the thing I've been pleased with is the attitude of the kids. It's 'Coach, we'll do whatever we need to do. We'll play whatever position we need to play.'"
The buzz surrounding Providence's new program, both from the students and the community, makes the job even more fun for Robinson. He said the middle-school team drew nice crowds last season, even though all but one game was played on the road. The only home game last season was played at Shiloh.
This year's six-game JV slate features four road games at Athens Christian, George Walton, North Cobb Christian and Athens Academy and two home games vs. Pinecrest and Prince Avenue. No location been picked for this year's home games, but the hopes are to use Lilburn's Bryson Park.
In the future, Providence plans to build an on-campus, multi-use athletic field for home games.
"That's the long-term goal, to have an on-campus stadium," Robinson said.
The Storm's rosters are slowly growing, too. The middle school team has 24 players and the JV squad has 31. A good portion of the middle school group, including the majority of the offensive line, were sixth-graders last season.
"Adding football should help (enrollment)," Robinson said. "Parents have always wanted their kids to go to Providence because of the overall mission, but maybe they went elsewhere because the school didn't offer football. I think now more parents will look at Providence because of that. We've already seen that with some kids coming in here."
Robinson's coaching staff includes former Georgia and Atlanta Falcons tight end Martrez Milner, as well as Jeff Joiner, Tom Duncan, Scotty Strong, Randy Scott (a former Green Bay Packer) and Jerry Overman. Robinson, before coaching at GAC and Mountain View, also was an NFL and college player.
They are preparing for Providence's first JV schedule, which begins Aug. 30 at Athens Christian. The team will play another JV schedule in 2013 before transitioning to varsity football in 2014.
"We're taking baby steps, but I really like the steps we're taking," Robinson said. "We're putting a good foundation in place for the long haul."