Akili Academy believes in educating the whole scholar, and one of the ways it has implemented this outside the classroom is through its athletics program. With a variety of afterschool activities for all grades, scholars in grades 5-8 are currently able to participate in baseball, basketball, flag football, softball, track & field, and volleyball.
Akili scholars participate in the New Orleans Charter School Athletic Association (NOCSAA), which is one of the biggest elementary/middle school athletic leagues in Louisiana, with over 30 participating schools. To compete with some of the best programs in the city, Akili’s Athletic Coordinator and Coach Daryl Williams set the expectations very high for Akili athletes from the start of the 17-18 season.
“All of the coaches decided that we had to start by creating a winning attitude for our scholars,” says Coach Williams. “Our success this past athletic season has shown that we have upgraded our status of being a ‘good’ athletic program to a ‘great’ program for the children of New Orleans.”
With this goal in mind, the Akili coaches have pushed their scholars to become “mentally tough” when adversity strikes. “This year, the scholar-athletes have focused on building what we call ‘The Akili Mentality.’ This mentality is about having pride, passion, and the will to win in life,” says Coach Williams.
In the past eight months, Akili Academy Athletes have used this new mentality to break the NOCSAA record for most city championships won by one school in a single athletic season. Since the start of this season, Akili has claimed the following titles:
- 5/6 Flag Football, Undefeated NOCSAA City Champions
- 7/8 Flag Football, Undefeated NOCSAA City Champions
- 7/8 Volleyball, NOCSAA Runner-Ups (record: 8-2)
- 5/6 Boys Basketball, Undefeated NOCSAA City Champions
- 5/6 Girls Basketball, Undefeated NOCSAA City Champions
- 7/8 Boys Basketball, NOCSAA Third Place (record: 8-1)
- 7/8 Girls Basketball, Undefeated NOCSAA City Champions
Coach Harold Enclarde, Head Coach of 5/6 Boys Athletics, is one city championship away from breaking both the NOCSAA coaching record for the most city championships won in a single season by a coach in one division and the record for most wins in a single athletic season.
Coach Williams isn’t just focused on the success he has created right now, but also on how he can continue to build the Akili Athletics Program. “My vision for Akili Academy is to be the new era of high school recruiting for Orleans Parish,” says Coach Williams. “Right now, we have several 9th graders who are in starter roles on their high school teams, and we have an 8th-grade scholar who has been recruited heavily by high school coaches from private and public schools.”
With all of the success they have seen in the past few months, Coach Williams knows that his role as Athletic Coordinator and Coach is unique in that he and the rest of the coaching staff have the opportunity to mold winning attitudes on and off the field.
“Coach Enclarde is constantly reminding us all that we are not just coaches to our scholars, but also mentors,” says Coach Williams. “We take pride in showing our 8th graders the report cards from their former teammates who are currently enjoying academic and athletic success in high school. The coaching staff encourages our teachers to keep each coach informed about our scholar-athletes’ academic progress. During breaks/planning periods, we sometimes make random appearances in the hallways and classrooms to let our scholars understand that we are serious about their studies.”
Coach Williams believes that the Akili coaching staff can create a right balance for scholars because they know first hand how important it is to balance academics with athletics in their everyday lives.
“Coach Kazell Williams, Head Coach for all 7/8 Boys Sports, loves to tell his players that they are not just getting an education to be eligible to play sports, but they are also getting an education to be eligible to live a good life,” says Coach Williams.
“The coaching staff at Akili aren’t big fans of kids ‘just doing enough’ to get a pass to play in a game. We teach our scholars to learn everything they can on and off the court because education is the most powerful weapon for any battle in life.”