Aspire for more: West Georgia Wolverines have five nominated for ASPIRE awards

Published 3:45 am Friday, October 6, 2023

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The West Georgia Wolverines are always aspiring to be more than just a team. As one of the best adapted sports programs in the state of Georgia, it should come as no surprise that the Wolverines have had individual awards pouring in after another successful season in 2022-23. 

The Wolverines have five coaches and athletes nominated for ASPIRE Awards given out every year for the top adapted sports competitors in the state.

“It is great because a lot of these kids do other sports and clubs, so they have to give up three hours a week on two different days to practice and rarely get noticed for that,” Wolverine head coach Jacob Roche said, “It’s an honor for them to get recognized.”

Dr. Nick Griffin, who won volunteer of the year at last year’s award ceremony, is up for coach of the year this season after joining the coaching staff full-time a season ago. What makes it an even more special occasion for Nick this season is being nominated alongside his son Kamari “Tank” Griffin, who is up for most improved athlete of the year.

“I was honestly super proud of all of them because we finished last year with just six kids,” Nick said. “It is an honor to be recognized as an organization, but it is really great for these kids because a lot of them have been left out of other sports.”

It has been a steep learning curve for Tank, but he has adjusted, leading him to be nominated for this award.

“When I first started, I was the slowest one on the team, and I would be on one side of the court while my team was on the other,” Tank said. “I couldn’t even hit the rim or the net in basketball season, and now I am able to make shots.”

Tank has made major strides in the last year, making his father the proudest man. 

“I’m not going to lie, I almost cried the first time Tank made a basket,” Nick said. “He scored on probably the best player in the league. It shocked me and blew my mind because it really felt like all his hard work was paying off in that moment.”

The Wolverines also have a nominee for male and female athlete of the year with Austin Thompson as the former and Taylor Nation as the latter.

“I felt like I did something for the first time in a while,” Thompson said. “It felt really good.”

Both are multi-sport athletes with Thompson being a member of the wrestling team at LaGrange High. Thompson is a well-rounded player, more than capable of dominating in all three adapted sports — basketball, football and handball — but it is handball where he is a true standout. 

“I was the slowest person on the team when I started, and now I am one of the fastest,” Thompson said. 

Nation does not practice much with the Wolverines in the fall as she is busy with the LaGrange High softball team, where she plays with her twin sister Tatum. 

Nation has improved tremendously since first coming out with the team last season.

“It is amazing to be a part of a team that has a bunch of people come together from the different schools and work together as a team,” Nation said. “It is just amazing to watch everybody play together.”

She was as shocked as could be to find out she was nominated for the award.

Nation is a football gal through and through and loves being a part of the Wolverine football team.

“I understand football better than I understand basketball, and I grew up watching it,” Nation said. “I went to my first practice last year, and I loved it right away.”

The Wolverines also had Abby Simmons up for senior athlete of the year. She was nominated last season for female athlete of the year and has since graduated from high school.

The Wolverines will be packing Maggianos in Atlanta on Oct. 22. This is not a one-off for the Wolverines as they have become staples at the annual ASPIRE Awards.

“Next year there will be a lot more categories, so I expect to have even more nominated next year,” Roche said.