Mike Carmody is the High School's Head Coach and I caught up with him last week. "Home School Running programs are growing because home school itself is growing. This was a trend before the pandemic as well," he added. However due to the pandemic, the Sovereign Grace team is the largest it has ever been. "Running wasn't an activity that was being cancelled and kids who were missing the sense of community from their other activities found homeschool running."
Carmody founded the team in 2008 and its' affiliation to "Sovereign Grace" the denomination is in name only. The program is non-denominational with the only requirements being you must be home schooled and have a good attitude. The program mostly pulls from South Davidson County and Williamson County but some have joined from North Nashville and as far south as Lewisville. With the state of traffic in Middle Tennessee, practice 5 days a week was just not achievable. Carmody opted for practice 3 days a week meeting at Crockett Park from 6:30 AM to 8:00 AM with the athletes practicing on their own on the others.
Christian Trosdal, senior and has been running for Sovereign Grace his entire career, has no problem running independently. "Homeschool itself is a very independent activity. I think we're all very prepared and trusted to run on our own. Our training this year has never been better." Christian led the trio of runners who finished 2, 3, 4 at the Tennessee Classic last year and along with brothers Matthew and Daniel McGuire, are leading this year's squad as well. Earlier this month at the Asics Invitational in Georgia, the trio paced the team to a 16:35 5K average while finishing 17th overall in the Championship Division.
The team is currently "on the bubble" of our most recent Top Ten Rankings while the CSTHEA Patriot Girls team, another Home School Running Program out of Chattanooga, is "on the bubble" in those rankings as well. The Patriots and the Knoxville Ambassadors, another program out of East Tennessee, have won Homeschool Nationals in year's past.
The conversation with both Carmody and Trosdol eventually led to whether or not they felt as if they are missing out by not being able to compete for a state title in November and their answers conveyed the same sentiment. "We get to measure our team against the state's best every time we race." Carmody added, "In previous years, since we are part of the Mid-State Cross Country Association, we get to race in the largest race in Middle Tennessee every year (Voyles Classic) and over the course of the season against a lot of other high caliber teams." If you look at their results over the past couple of years, they beat a lot of them in the process as well.
To some, home schooling may be viewed as an "opting out" of "normal" activities but when it comes to the running community, programs like Sovereign Grace truly amplify how inclusive our sport is. While they may not be at Sanders Ferry in November, they, as well as others, are a staple at Tennessee High School competitions and as noted, not to be taken lightly.