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WCA Athletic Director Issues 2019-2020 Athletics Wrap-up Message

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This message was penned by WCA Athletic Director Pam Gibbons to our athletes and school athletics community who cheers for them…

Greetings WCA Families of Student-Athletes,

What a strange ride it has been these past few months as our Spring season came to a screeching halt practically before it had even really begun! Our Seniors have missed out on their final athletics season of their high school career and the parents, coaches, and spectators have had to deal with this reality that frankly took a bit to sink in! It has felt sad in many ways, but I trust that the peace that passes understanding only reached through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has carried you through these unchartered waters. As your Athletic Director, I have had to think about how we could ensure that our year in sports is captured and remembered! I sincerely hope that this message finds you well and that you can look back at your student-athlete’s year in athletics and enjoy the ride.

But first, a word to our graduating Seniors. I have truly cherished my time getting to know each of you over these past 2 years as Athletic Director. As one of the largest graduating classes, you will certainly go out with a bang and rightfully so as you have managed to make your mark on our WCA community with many laughs and good times along the way! It has been so exciting to hear the many paths you all are taking as you spread your Eagle wings beyond the halls, courts, and fields of WCA. I’ve seen each of you experience triumphs and disappointments along the way, but I see the great character you have developed in the journey gaining strength, perseverance, humility, love, and respect for your fellow teammates and competitors. Take what you have learned through your high school athletics experience and carry it forward to the experiences you will have in this great big world. Just remember that you are loved! Be the best version of yourself. Be kind. Pursue goodness. Continue to grow and learn with a humble heart. Follow your conscience not your heart. Work hard. Seek God’s wisdom. And most importantly, call your mom and dad for more than just adding money to your student accounts! They love you more than they can even express.

Congratulations Seniors! You will be missed. Check out our tribute to our Seniors whose parents wrote heartfelt letters to their graduates (coming soon).

Fall 2019 Athletics :

Soccer athletics

athleticsComing into the Fall athletics season, I must admit that I wasn’t sure how it would all go down as we were coming off of a year prior when our boy’s varsity soccer team was demonstrating blood, sweat, and tears, with barely over the required eleven players per game. To my sheer delight, the names kept pouring in on the soccer roster with some new kids taking their cleats to the field. We were set to have a few subs on the bench. Hallelujah! We had a great mix of seasoned veterans in our five, strong Seniors: goalie Riley Linback, defensemen Jordan Pearson and Liam McConnell, and the front line, Franklin West and Jalen Vaughan, along with returning players Luca Alberts and Josh Kish, who combined with some commendable effort from new teammates, Joel Pho, Cameron and Caleb Downs, Ashton and Jeffrey Graham, Nathan Watson, and Nick Lombardo. The team was 6-2-4 overall in their season and earned Runner-Up in the VMAC after a hard-fought loss to a larger Junior- and Senior-heavy team, Grace Christian School. Despite the loss to Grace Christian in the finals, I enjoyed watching you all develop friendships with our fellow co-competitor team in the VMAC and touched to see you demonstrate grace in your defeat.

Congratulations to Senior Captain Jalen Vaughan for earning the VMAC title of “Most Outstanding Player” along with a spot on the VMAC Tournament team and coaches pick for “Most Outstanding Player” on the team. I enjoyed the adrenaline rush of watching you wind up for what I called one of your “canon” shots into the goal that not too many goalies could defend.

Congratulations to Senior Captain Riley Linback for earning a spot on both the VMAC First Team All-Conference as well as the VMAC Tournament team. It was really neat to watch Riley develop in his goalkeeper skills over the past two years at WCA. Your contributions to the team as the first line of defense on our goal were too many to count as you made some really sweet saves that I only wish I would have captured on camera!

Congratulations to Senior Franklin West for his immense dedication to the soccer team over his high school years and for his “never quit” attitude. Franklin earned the coaches pick for the “Heart and Hustle” award this past season. Franklin, it was fun to watch you develop in your athleticism and become a “runner” in your Senior year!

Congratulations to Senior Jordan Pearson, for his superb skills as a defenseman, with excellent control to get the ball out of the hot zone sending it up to our front line. Jordan, you always have a way to make your teammates smile.

Congratulations to Senior Captain Liam McConnell for his equally superb skills as the Sweeper, utilizing his gifts as a natural defenseman stopping way more balls than he ever let through, which looking back seemed pretty rare. Liam earned a spot on the First Team All-Conference Team and VMAC Tournament team as well.

Other noteworthy moments came from Junior attacker Joel Pho, with his memorable sprints to the ball, his footwork around the defenders and the photo of the season with an awe-inspiring leap into the air for a shot on goal, and Midfielder Jeffrey Graham, with some super scoring contributions and promising offensive skills to help carry his team for years to come.

Thank you to Coach “C” in his first year as the Varsity Head Coach, bonding instantly with his players and providing a sense of calm to this high energy game. Thank you for helping to take this mix of new and seasoned players and really bring out the best in each of them so that they might display themselves on the field with character and respect.

Field Hockey athletics

The Girls Field Hockey team experienced a year in numbers more akin to the 2018 Soccer season, with barely enough players which necessitated having to play one man down, but there was no denying that they were a fierce set of young ladies determined to hustle and give their all displaying tremendous heart along the way. I will always remember the courage and persistence you all showed as you went into local tournament play with 1 sub, playing 3 games in a row in the crazy hot heat. You all displayed a very admirable “never give up” attitude and I am proud of each and every one of you. Well done 2019 Field Hockey team: Maddy Moran, Sophia Lee, Lola Geoffroy, Bekah Kish, Rayanne Hepburn, Lydia Segal, Lizzie Rodenberg, Hailey Parisi, Grace Lee, Ally Rodenberg, and Daisy Marlowe.

Congratulations to Maddy Moran for earning the “Most Outstanding Player” award for your all-around mad skills on the field and leading your team as the oldest player and seasoned veteran.

Congratulations to Bekah Kish for being the defensive specialist earning the “Best Defense” award and hustling through many tough plays to get that ball going in the right direction and out of harm’s way!

Congratulations to Ally Rodenberg for earning “Best Offense” honors using her God-given speed and agility to zip through opponents on her way to some great shots on goal, scoring several throughout the season.

Congratulations to Lizzie Rodenberg for earning the “Heart and Hustle” award as arguably the most improved player and earning herself “seasoned” status on the field hockey field in this second year of play.

Other noteworthy accolades go to our goalkeeper for 2 years and running, Sophia Lee, who saved countless shots on goal to keep the overall scores low, and endured endless days of excruciating heat decked in full (and quite heavy) goalie gear, and to fellow defensemen Lola Geoffroy and Rayanne Hepburn for their contributions on the backline.

Thank you to our dedicated Coach Shannon who split her time between volleyball and field hockey teams putting her heart and soul into helping these young ladies develop as individuals and athletes alike while juggling the activities of two young children herself! So thankful for her willingness to come back each year to do, what we all know, she absolutely loves to do!

athletics

Volleyball

The girl’s volleyball teams experienced some great growth this past season fielding for the very first time in WCA history: a middle school and a varsity team. The girls played some very tough teams within the VMAC with one super win over Grove Christian School mid-season. Watching these girls set up legitimate plays with excellent digs, sets, and hits as they grew comfortable with one another in their second year of play together was super exciting and inspiring. Congratulations Isabell Comber, Nandi Davis, Kailey Watson, Laura Reese, Carly Bruck, Faith Witherby, Mina Wright, Maddy Moran, Waverly Richard, and Sophia Lee for your many contributions to the team!

Congratulations to Junior Carly Bruck, for earning the team’s “Most Outstanding Player” award. Carly has grown exponentially on the volleyball court and was known for her precision sets to her teammates and amazing overall hustle, not afraid to hit the floor for a dig whenever needed!

Congratulations to Senior Captain, Isabell Comber, for rightfully earning “Best Offense” for many an ace serve and spiking the ball in the sweet spot! Isabell enjoyed playing many sports in her Senior year, but it was very evident that volleyball was her true love! Congratulations to Senior Kailey Watson, who was a player with tons of heart, awesome digs, and unmatched hustle around the court. Kailey’s enthusiasm and high energy was always contagious and made watching the team even more enjoyable.

Congratulations to Senior Captain Nandi Davis for her recognition in receiving the “Lady Eagle” award for her all-around stellar leadership, calm demeanor under pressure, and her overall athleticism on the court.

Special recognition also goes to Senior Laura Reese for coming out to play for the first time this past year and displaying more skills and talent than she probably even knew she had, and to Maddy Moran for growing into the team “blocker” utilizing her natural volleyball physique to guard the net.

We will miss our large group of Seniors but are looking forward to the development skills of our rising seniors and younger leaders. We are confident that they can rise to the occasion!

Our Middle School team was coached by newcomer and WCA dad Lance Buchanan, who helped Coach Shannon tremendously in juggling her three overall Fall sports coaching obligations. Lance has a heart of gold and instantly gelled with the young Lady Eagles to create a fun practice atmosphere mixed with exceptional skills training for these up and coming volleyball players. Congratulations Sophia Lee, Lizzie Rodenberg, Lilly Bartran, Grace Lee, Hailey Parisi, Ally Rodenberg, and Marley Newton for their commendable effort throughout the season.

Congratulations specifically to Hailey Parisi who earned “Best Defense” for her ability and a good sense of timing to be just where she needed to be on the court and to Marley Newton, the youngest player on the team, who came in with a few years of training under her belt and rose up as an offensive leader of her team earning “Best Offense” for the season. Can’t wait to see these young Lady Eagles continue to soar.

Cross Country athletics

Last (but certainly not least) for the fall season, our first official eight-man Cross Country team! Congratulations to Jacob Thibeault, Delaney Gibbons, Cillian Clapp, Jack Marlowe, Joe Dill, Julian LaPastora, Daisy Marlowe, and Faith Davenport. The cross country prospect started the year prior when Class of 2019 graduate Svetlana Goncharova came to me wanting to try it out and, just as expected, she was terrific despite having to run as an exhibition runner due to age! The buzz for cross country grew from there and more kids came out to see what it was all about. Captains were never officially determined; however, it became quickly apparent that the two oldest student-athletes, Freshmen Jacob Thibeault and Delaney Gibbons would assume the leadership position as they provided lots of encouragement and became the pacers for their specific gender during practice. Jacob finished out a great first JV year as the #2 boy on the team, placing 3rd overall at the VMAC Cross Country championships after teammate Jack Marlowe, who placed 2nd (after not being quite sure he even wanted to run but quickly realized that he indeed had some raw talent!) Seventh-grader Julian LaPastora had the race of his life at the Conference Championship meet, placing 5th overall. Eighth-grader Cillian Clapp was surely the most improved runner on the team from day one to Championship race day, whittling downtime every race, and placing 8th overall at the VMAC Championships. Our triple threat girls, Delaney, Daisy, and Faith, made their mark with dropped times throughout the season and placing perfectly to help the boys secure the team’s VMAC Championship title.

After the wrap up of Fall athletics sports, a great group of well-rounded athletes was named “Student-Athletes of the Season.” Congratulations Isabell Comber, Sophia Lee, Bekah Kish, Julian LaPastora, Jeffrey Graham, Maddy Moran, Jacob Thibeault, and Jalen Vaughan for being recognized by your coaches and teachers as being exceptional student-athletes.

Winter 2019-2020 Athletics:

Moving into the Winter athletics season, the excitement continued by way of court or pool! WCA had its highest number of basketball teams with a Middle School, JV, and Varsity Boy’s team along withchampionship Middle School and Varsity Girl’s teams.

Eagle Swim athletics

The WCA Eagle Swim team saw its highest numbers with twenty total members between JV and varsity teams. Congratulations to Lainey Flanagan, Kaitlyn Sullivan, Delaney Gibbons, and Sisi Mileski who traveled to the VISAA State Championship Meet at Virginia Tech Aquatic Center and surprised themselves placing in the championship final races of both the 200 Freestyle and 200 Medley relays. In addition, Senior Lainey Flanagan raced her heart out to make it to the finals of her 100 free race, dropping time and placing 9th overall. Lainey will be continuing her swimming career at Messiah College next year! We will all miss your positive presence on the team and seeing you in your sweet spot racing freestyle! Junior Kaitlyn Sullivan rocked her two individual finals races, placing 4th in the state in the 100 Breast and earning a bronze medal in the Individual Medley combining all 4 strokes into one exciting race. Sullivan was named to the All-State team as a result of her medal finish.  Freshman Delaney Gibbons made it to finals in both of her individual events, placing 10th in the 100 Fly and 7th in the 100 Backstroke. A newcomer to the team, 8th grader SiSi Mileski provided the perfect anchor for the girl’s relays digging down deep to help secure a spot in the finals for both. The varsity girls left VA Tech as the VISAA Division II Runners-Up (and tenth overall for both DI and II) in a meet attended by 45 teams. With just 4 total teammates, they were one of the smallest teams in the field!

The future also looks bright for Eagle Swim! Our JV team had an amazing season, which culminated in a collection of top performances at the VISAA JV Invitational Swim Championship. Our varsity boys finished second overall in the meet, just edging out powerhouse Norfolk Academy, and the girls finished third, trailing just host Seton and Fredericksburg Christian. Rising star Joe Dill was the top scorer for our boy’s team with 32 points from a 3rd place finish in the 100 Individual Medley and third in the 50 Breaststroke. Just a 7th grader, Dill was competing in the meet swimwith swimmers as old as freshmen. Also scoring big for the Eagles was Jacob Thibeault, who placed 3rd in the 100 free, and Jack Marlowe, who scored in 5th place in two events. Cillian Clapp and Josh Kish also placed individually. On the girl’s side, the aforementioned Sisi Mileski was WCA’s top scorer, finishing 2nd in both the 50 and 100 Freestyle. Bekah Kish had three top-eight finishes to help with the third-place overall finish, as did young 5th grader Daisy Marlowe, who scored in two events.

Eagle Swim typically celebrates with an end of season party at Coach Anne’s river house when the weather warms. Coach Anne Anderson likes to save her individual awards for this event and hopefully, as restrictions are gradually lifted, the team can still partake in a summer celebration! Thank you to both Coach Anne and Coach Jeff Sullivan for their tireless dedication and love towards the promotion and growth of the Eagle Swim program. All of the behind-the-scenes work they do does not go unnoticed!

Basketball athletics

athleticsThe varsity boys’ basketball team worked their way up the ranks with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears playing some stiff competition. On the way they secured a spot in the top 12 to play in the first round of the VISAA Division III Championship Tournament, narrowly losing to Covenant Christian School by 2 points. Sadly, the team is graduating seven total members, including Brandon Herman (who will play ball at Mid-Atlantic Christian College), Connor Simmons (who will play at Lancaster Bible College), Jalen Vaughan (who will play at Messiah College), Riley Linback, Jordan Pearson, Carson Pietruszynski, and Will VanDivender. Many of these players have been together since their freshman year.

Carson, we miss your scrappiness on the court (if that’s a word!); Will, we will miss watching your vertical leap; Riley, we will miss your “never quit” attitude on the court; Jordan, we will miss your ability to get your teammates pumped up; Connor, we will miss your calmness on the court and watching the money shots from the outside; Jalen, we will miss your awesome rebounding prowess and taking control under the basket; and Brandon, we will miss your leadership and your uncanny sense of ability to know exactly where to be and when on the court.

Congratulations to all of the varsity members including Juniors Trent Calhoun, Ethan Conrad, Geoffrey Wellons, and JaKari Wilkins (who hit his 1000th career point mid-season), along with newcomer and youngest member of the team, Freshman Santana Bartlett who also led the JV team in the point guard position. Captain Brandon Herman was awarded “Best Defense” on the team as well as First Team All-Conference and a spot on the VMAC All-Tournament team. Captain JaKari Wilkins received “Best Offense” on the team in addition to “Most Outstanding Player” in the VMAC Conference and a spot on the All-Tournament team. Captain Connor Simmons was awarded “Most Outstanding Senior” on the team as well as VMAC Honorable Mention status and a spot on the All-Tournament team, and Jalen Vaughan received the “Coaches Award” along with VMAC Honorable Mention. Junior Trenton Calhoun also secured a spot on the All-Conference First Team .

A huge thank you goes out to new Head Coach Kashif Johnson and Assistant Coach Scott Jones for pouring into each of their players to help them reach their individual potential. Basketball season never truly ends or begins so I greatly appreciate all the extra time and dedication these two coaches spend in the development of the basketball program all year long!

Coach Scott somehow found the time to additionally direct the efforts of the remaining WCA teams including the Middle School and JV Boys and the Middle School and Varsity Girls teams. It is evident that during the winter season, he eats, sleeps, and breathes basketball! Thank you also to Coach Elray Dickens who generously served his time in supporting Coach Scott for several practices and games with the boys teams.

This year’s JV team consisted largely of our Middle School players along with 3 upperclassmen in addition to swing player Barlett, Sophomores Cameron Downs and Charles Kageleiry and Freshman Josh Kish. The JV team played largely older teams and held their own with some serious grit and determined hearts. Santana Bartlett was named “Most Outstanding Player” and Charles Kageliery took the title of “Best Offense” for the team. The Middle School team included seasoned 8th grader Jack Marlowe who earned “Most Outstanding Player” along with newcomer Seth Meleski who received the “Coaches Award” and seasoned 7th graders, Julian LaPastora, coaches pick for “Best Offense” and Elijah Williams, coaches pick for “Best Defense.” Thank you to the rest of the Middle School boys for their necessary contributions to help their team secure the VMAC Championship Title: Joe Dill, Ryan Kailian, Jake Duffy, Liam Gifford, Daniel Lindsey, Joshua Rivers and Nathan Watson.

The Girls teams became combined at certain points in the season to compete against other “mixed-age” teams in the VMAC and eventually earned the VMAC Championship title in the conferenceathletics tournament. The varsity team will miss their 3 graduating Seniors, Isabell Comber along with Nandi Davis (“Most Outstanding Senior”) and Lainey Flanagan, (“Best Defense”) who both were also recognized as First Team All-Conference and All-Tournament team picks. Juniors Carly Bruck was named “Most Outstanding Player” for both the team and the VMAC Conference scoring an average of 20 points per game as the conference’s high scorer, and Faith Witherby earned the “Coaches Award” for her team and hit her first-ever 3 point shot. Rounding out the varsity team were 8th graders Sophia Lee (VMAC Honorable Mention) along with Rayanne Hepburn for crew of six total varsity players. Sophia (named “Most Outstanding Player” on our Middle School team) and Rayanne were both swing players between the two teams helping out additional younger teammates Hailey Parisi, Lizzie Rodenberg, and Ally Rodenberg. Rodenberg was named the coach’s pick for “Best Offense” contributing a mean lay-up and some nice outside shots for some points on the board.

Our second group of “Student-Athletes of the Season” were just making their way to the back hall sports bulletin board for their debut and then the COVID-19 hit! Congratulations to Santana Bartlett, Joe Dill, Jack Marlowe, Ally Rodenberg, Kaitlyn Sullivan, Connor Simmons, Geoffrey Wellons and Faith Witherby for being recognized by your coaches as outstanding student-athletes, not just for athletics, but for classroom achievement as well! If you haven’t had a chance to read about each of these student-athletes, take a look at the WCA athletics website.

Moving into the Spring athletics season, we were hopeful with a stacked Co-ed Soccer team of 18 players, a newly formed Co-ed tennis team under the direction of incoming coach Andrew Link, and our Middle School Baseball team. Thank you so much to all of those baseball dads who came out to get their hands dirty and revive our baseball field: Andy Marlowe, Lance Buchanan, Bill Nystrom, Chris Lindsey, and John Duffy. We never could have started the athletics season without you all!
Our golf team nearly doubled in numbers as well, and I know that Coach Scott was thrilled to have the assistance of several “golf dads” out on the course with him. Thank you David Downs, Mike Kailian, and Jason Linback! It was set to be an exciting athletics season across the board and it was tough to watch it all come to a halt.

I am so very thankful for all of the student-athletes who were willing to come out and persevere through the end of the school year which is never easy when there is a countdown to summer and most students opt to take it easy their spring semester! Thank you all for allowing me to serve you in the capacity of Athletic Director. May God bless you and may you all remain hopeful for the upcoming school year and athletics seasons. Until then….

Pam Gibbons

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