Grace Academy Forced to Move Football Practice to Church Grounds


Chattanooga-(WDEF-TV) Grace Academy is having to rebuild after a tornado demolished their school in April. That means the football team had to find a new place to work out.
And like so many in times of disaster, they turned to the church.
The Golden Eagles are now practicing at Ridgedale Baptist Church.

Not to sound like Jeff Foxworthy, but if you’re football practice field has more trash cans than hash marks, then you might not be on the gridiron.
Reporter:”Do you think this field has ever seen as many trash cans and cones on it before?”
Said head coach Bob Ateca:”No. In fact when I told them if I could use that field, he said yeah, we don’t use it for anything. (chuckles) So but for us, it’s a gift.”
Reporter:”How do you explaining to people where you practice?”
Said senior center Connor Brown:”Uh. Well I just tell them that we’re in a field next to a church.”
Said Ateca:”Yeah it’s definitely not what you’d want, but God has blessed us with something. Has grass. It’s relatively level, so we can get some work done.”
The Easter Sunday tornado basically destroyed Grace Academy and the athletic facilites. The destruction was two-fold for Coach Ateca, who lived near the school.
Said Ateca:”Well you know it’s overwhelming when you lose your home, and then you go and notice you lost your school as well. But God had been good through it all, and he has blessed us tremendously with friends and family and gifts.”
Said Brown:”Yeah it has been hard, especially playing football there since 6th grade. I’ve been looking forward to my senior year, but I don’t know, that ‘s not going to happen, but anywhere we’ll be able to play, I’ll be glad.”
Reporter:”What are you going to do for home football games?”
Said Ateca:”We’ve talked to a number of people. McCallie has offered their facilities. Ooltewah has offered their facilities. Obviously, there’s a lot that goes with it. Will their group allow us to do it and all that. And then we’ve been looking into a couple of other options as well.”
And it seems like Coach Ateca is having to figure out new options every day.
Said Ateca:”Yesterday I got a call from Fed-Ex Ground. He says hey, I’ve got a bunch of boxes, and I don’t know where to deliver them because your school doesn’t exist anymore. I go over there, and they are all our helmets that have come back from reconditioning. And so I have 60 football helmets sitting in my garage of the rented house that I have. So hence it’s definitely an interesting year.”