Conyers There’s a good chance that Stephen Sansing is the only one of his kind in the state of Georgia. Sansing, who coaches five teams at Rockdale High School, took each program to the state tournament during the 2011-2012 school year.
It started in the fall with the volleyball team. A year after winning the Region 8-AAAA championship with league player of the year Lauren Aikens and reaching the sweet 16 for the first time in school history, the Bulldogs took it a step further in 2011 despite graduating eight seniors. After repeating as region champions, Rockdale, led by Sansing and assistant coach Gladys King, reached the Elite 8, only to lose to eventual Class AAAA state champion Pope and finished ranked in the top 10 for the first time in the program’s history. And like Aikens the year before, Kendra Lackey, who later signed with Gadsden State Community College, won league player of the year honors.
“The volleyball team played great this year,” Sansing said. “The fact we repeated as area champions is even more amazing when you realize we graduated eight seniors from the year before. We finished ranked in the top ten in the state for the first time, and other coaches are reaching out to schedule Rockdale for the first time. Coach Gladys King is my right-hand woman in volleyball-the girls love her to death but she’ll get in their face when she needs to.”
The success continued in the winter. Both the boy’s and girl’s swim teams reached the state meet for the first time, and the girl’s won the region championship. Though the boy’s finished as runner-up to Flowery Branch, they captured the Rockdale County title.
“The swim team had a great season as well,” Sansing said. “At (the state swim meet at) Georgia Tech, all the kids swam their fastest times (and) we dropped time in every relay.”
In the spring, the Rockdale tennis teams proved the 2010-2011 season wasn’t a fluke, reaching the state tournament for the second consecutive season. Though each fell in the opening round, Sansing and co-head coach Ramona Houston (also a swim coach) helped each tennis team improve, while individually, sophomore stand out Summer Walker continued to move up in the ranks of top girl’s players in the state.
Five-for-five: not a bad six months for Sansing, his players and his coaching staff.
“These kids deserve the credit, I haven’t served a ball or swam one lap all season. I just try to get the best out of them and put them in situations they can succeed,” he said. “Coach Ramona Houston is my left-hand woman in swimming and tennis, we work great as a team and the kids can see she really cares about them. I owe any success we’ve had directly to (King and Houston).”