Rob Wells, director of the Savannah Sports Council, was counting on Chad Griffin being in attendance at the 2021 Georgia Power Sports Awards Luncheon on Tuesday.
Wells had a surprise for him.
Griffin was part of the contingent from Calvary Day School, which in its inaugural season of girls flag football won the GHSA Class 1A-5A state championship. Griffin was the head coach, adding to his duties as athletic director and boys and girls soccer coach.
The Cavaliers were among the Savannah-area teams honored with Generations Awards for achievement during the luncheon at the Charles H. Morris Center. Other honors included the John F. Hodges O.A.S.I.S. Award for lifetime achievement, which this year went to Savannah High School boys basketball coaching icon Tim Jordan. (For more on Jordan, see savannahnow.com/sports and Thursday’s print edition.)
Calvary Day has counted on Griffin for a lot over the past 19 years, and on Tuesday the Savannah Sports Council honored him with the Award of Excellence. The honor is not given out every year, only when there are deserving individuals based on merit. It was purposely not listed in the event itinerary.
“I had no idea this was coming. It’s super humbling,” said Griffin, a native of Gastonia, North Carolina. “To be a part of the Savannah community for 19 years, this has been my home. I might be from North Carolina but I will always be from Savannah. My time here, our time at Calvary Day School and the people in this community … the relationships we’ve made over these years are so vital and so important. I’ve always loved sports and being a part of it. I’m just blessed to be in a place like Savannah that embraces that sports mentality.”
The timing of the award was crucial, as Griffin and his wife Sherry, a Calvary Day School administrator and formerly the longtime softball coach, have accepted positions at Hebron Christian Academy in Dacula. Sherry will keep her title as her new school’s first director of student life, and Chad will be assistant athletic director for athletic development. He will be the boys soccer coach and start a flag football team, which he so successfully accomplished during the 2020-21 school year.
Calvary’s first couple:Chad and Sherry Griffin make tough decision to leave school they love
More Cavaliers:Calvary Day captures state title in flag football’s 1st year
The Griffins have two children that love to play sports: Hayes, a seventh-grader, and Addison, a sixth-grader.
Chad Griffin also serves on the GHSA executive committee and the Georgia Athletic Directors Association advisory board, helping organize its annual convention in Savannah.
Leaving Savannah will be extremely difficult, he said.
“There’s something different and special being from Savannah and the people here and how much they care about their community and especially the passion they have for their sports community,” Griffin said.
He said his last day is May 26. He said Calvary Day will have a new athletic director, Shon Hardy, a former North Carolina State football player who was athletic director at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, Texas.
Spirit of Sport Award
The Savannah State University men’s and women’s golf teams were honored with this new award for community service. The SSU squads gave of their time and effort to help the Club Car Championship at The Landings Club, a Korn Ferry Tour golf tournament in March. The teams assisted with a junior clinic, volunteered to perform jobs during the event and women’s players competed in the Pros vs. Pros Shootout.
• Calvary Day School won the Class 1A-5A state championship in the first year that girls flag football was a sanctioned varsity sport in the GHSA.
The Cavaliers, in their inaugural season, scored on the game’s final play to win their semifinal against Northside Columbus. Nevaeh Hamilton’s interception was critical in securing a 6-0 victory over Portal in the state title game at Georgia State University’s Center Parc Stadium.
• The Habersham School won its third straight state volleyball title as the Patriots prevailed in a close match with Oakwood Christian 25-17, 24-26, 25-22, 25-21 in the GAPPS D IA finals in October 2020 at Tattnall Square Academy in Macon.
It was the fifth state crown in the last six years for the Patriots, who finished the season with a 23-10 record.
• The SCAD women’s swimming team concluded the 2020 NAIA National Championships on March 7 with its third consecutive title and fourth in five years.
• The Forest City Juniors captured their first national title as the team of 41 outshot its opponents at the 2020 Scholastic Clay Target Program National Championship in July 2020 in Marengo, Ohio.
One month earlier, the Forest City team successfully defended its title and its home turf, winning the 2020 Scholastic Clay Target Program State Championship on June 5-7, 2020 at Forest City Gun Club in Savannah.
The top prize is based on the top five scores for each team in all three disciplines: skeet, sporting clays and trap.
Community and Scholar Athlete Award
Scholarships of $1,250 each were awarded to four local high school seniors who have exceled in academics, athletics and community service.
• Shailyn Frazier of Jenkins helped lead the girls basketball team to its first region title, earned a 4.0 grade-point average and is class valedictorian. Frazier said she will attend Mercer University and major in biology to become a pediatric cardiologist.
• Katie Ellenwood of Calvary played four sports: cross country, swimming, soccer and flag football, the latter of which she was the region defensive player of the year for the state champions. She has a 4.0 GPA and will attend Georgia College & State University and major in criminal justice.
• Ryan Merklinger of CDS played football, basketball, baseball and track and field, was first-team all-state in football and earned a 4.2 GPA. He has signed to play football at Valparaiso University in Indiana.
• Justin McInnis of Savannah Christian played football, baseball and lacrosse, and was a team captain in football and lacrosse. He had a 4.1 GPA and will attend the University of Georgia and major in biology in the pre-medical track.
Nathan Dominitz is the Sports Content Editor of the Savannah Morning News and savannahnow.com. Email him at email@example.com. Twitter: @NathanDominitz
On the web
For a photo gallery from Tuesday’s awards luncheon, go to savannahnow.com/sports.