SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The athletes you see on the fields and courts of Chatham County are forged in the weight room.
It’s not a glamorous place; it’s noisy, sweaty and exhausting. It also happens to be the path to self-improvement, and nobody knows that better than the Islands Sharks.
At the end of this particular weightlifting session, you can find the Sharks crammed in a semi-circle around one of their teammates, senior Cooper Bachman, lifting an especially heavy weight. As Bachman pulls upward, the team is whipped into a frenzy, their voices reaching a crescendo when he manages to get the weight to knee height.
This kind of excitement about lifting is every head coach’s dream.
“It all starts in the weight room,” said head coach DeShawn Printup. “That’s what we’ve been talking about all summer.”
Printup was fresh off doing a one-rep deadlift of his own at the team’s encouragement, which sent roughly a dozen football players into their loudest fervor of the afternoon, hooting and hollering as Printup dropped the weight.
“Oh man, it felt great,” Printup said. “I felt like I was in high school again for those five seconds but tomorrow, man, I’m dreading it.”
While Printup recovers from any residual soreness, the Sharks will press on, eager to build off their first playoff victory in program history, a 22-18 come-from-behind win against Hardaway.
“It kind of sets a higher standard and it’s something we have to live up to even more,” Bachman said.
The Sharks have found out that success doesn’t necessarily earn a team any new friends.
“In my opinion, Islands is the most hated high school in Savannah, Georgia,” said senior Langston Lewis. “Everybody dislikes us just because.”
“We’re going to get some unsportsmanlike conducts early on in the season just because of celebration, the way these guys love each other and the hard work and dedication they put in together,” Printup said. “I’m OK with it. I’m perfectly fine with it.”
Islands’ bravado comes from brotherhood; a mentality that might best be described as Sharks vs. The World.
“We love all our brothers. We eat together and we have the majority of our classes together,” Lewis said.
And, of course, they lift together.
“We do us, man,” Printup said. “We build our own identity.”