Dublin building Springfield International Charter School brick by brick

Dublin building Springfield International Charter School brick by brick
Published: Nov. 5, 2022 at 12:27 AM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -Athletics has always been embedded in Springfield International Charter School’s fabric. But this year, the Bulldogs embark on a new journey, fielding a high school football program for the first time and laying the foundation “brick by brick.”

“The year has been really a phenomenal one, seeing kids develop, it’s night and day from the beginning of the season until now,” said Mike Dublin, head football coach at Springfield International Charter School.

Dublin is doing something he’s always wanted to do. Leading a football program from day one, as the first-ever head football coach at Springfield International Charter School.

“We have a saying, ‘brick by brick.’ It’s all about if you build something, you put one brick down, you put another one on top of it and your building is only as good as what your bottom brick is.” He said.

The school, formerly known as “Sabis,” once fielded a co-op program with cathedral and has a tradition of successful basketball and soccer programs.

What started off as an idea for athletic director Ryan Gaebel, has transformed into a reality.

“I’m most proud we haven’t had one kid quit. i figured once we started hitting, kids might drop off but they’ve stuck with it…We started at 21 we’re up to 35 and all of our equipment is handed out, we don’t have any more equipment,” he said.

And it’s catching the attention of the community.

“In school now, everyone’s talking to me about the games and it feels good to be a part of this team,” share Jaylen Lovejoy, a junior at Springfield International Charter School.

Gaebel told Western Mass News that only six or seven players on the roster had ever played competitive football, including junior speedster and jack-of-all trades Winston Lewis.

“The first game, that first kickoff, everything really just hit me of not playing in 6-7 years and just really being back in the sport I love,” Lewis said.

The bulldogs played a full junior varsity schedule and were even challenged to two varsity games by Mahar and Hoosac Valley. That lack of experience showed early on.

“Our first scrimmage against palmer was a little tricky, our first game, mahar, we’re calling timeouts because we don’t know how to line up on a punt.” Gaebel said.

Dublin said everyone’s bought in and his team is transforming into the *aggressors on the field.

“Looking to make sure they are the classiest team out there where they’re helping other guys up off the ground after looking to put them on it,” he said.

In this locker room, no one’s bigger than the team, as they all navigate this new road together.

“I try to let them know that I’m out here learning the same thing that they’re learning. I’m not some superhero, I’m not out here better than any of them so I’m just working at the same thing trying to achieve the same goal as a team,” Lovejoy said.

As for the report cards after year one…

“I’d say unsatisfied…All it does is open up new doors and new frames of thinking. Where can the team go? where can we be?” Dublin said.

“I think we’re going to have a powerhouse football team in the years to come,” Gaebel said.

Next year, Springfield International Charter School will make the jump to playing at the varsity level. Now, the focus turns to finding a league to welcome them in and continuing to lay those bricks all throughout the offseason leading up to kickoff.