(January 7, 2015) – In an effort to better recognize student-athletes in Loudoun County who exemplify the values classmates, coaches, spectators, officials, families and friends look for in teammates, the LoCoSports team has selected its November-December 2015 Teammates of the Month for basketball, cross country, football, swimming, volleyball and wrestling.
The selections were made from nominations based on the following criteria: selflessness, hustle, work ethic, attitude, team-first mentality, spirit and heart.
If you wish to nominate a student-athlete for athlete or teammate of the month, please reach out through our contact form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Owen Gotimer
Nominated by Linda Lachey-Helms
When making a run at a VHSL state title, talented athletes need more than natural ability; they need desire, hustle, selfless and a positive attitude. Potomac Falls High School seniors Melanie Gonzalez and Stefanie Mutter personified those team-first characteristics while serving as leaders for the Lady Panthers volleyball team on their journey through the 2015 postseason.
“The thing that separates Stefanie is her enthusiasm and excitement on the court for her teammates’ accomplishments,” Potomac Falls head coach Linda Lachey-Helms said. “She is our cheerleader, always positive and encouraging to all around her. When she is out of the game, she is helping others on the bench and encouraging on the court. Her smile is infectious!”
With Mutter’s vocal leadership comes the need for a teammate who offers the quiet vote of encouragement. Gonzalez provided just that to her teammates and coaches as Potomac Falls fended off a Stone Bridge comeback to win the VHSL 5A North region championship before falling victim to the Bulldogs on the Panthers first ever trip to the VHSL 5A state championship game.
“Melanie understood her role in a very mature way and was always positive to all of her teammates, encouraging them and celebrating with them. She is the player that the girls will go to if they have problems,” Lachey-Helms said. “She is a quiet leader that has truly stepped up by understanding her role and staying positive and encouraging to everyone around her for the sake of the team’s success.”
By Owen Gotimer
Nominated by Victor Canavra
Just a removed from a season-long injury in 2014-2015, Potomac Falls High School senior Spencer Hurrell has risen to the top of the 126-pound weight class among wrestlers in Loudoun County.
On December 5, Hurrell won the 126-pound weight class at the 37th Annual Sterling Lions Terry McGowan Invitational just a week before falling short of a championship at the NOVA Classic.
Hurrell once again claimed the top spot in the LCPS Championships 126-pound weight class as he won a major decision over Freedom sophomore Nicky Scolarici in the title match.
Over the holiday break – to round out his stellar first month back – Hurrell won the Spartan Slam by fashion of a 9-4 decision over Patriot sophomore Shane McCoy.
“Spencer is a leader in the practice room but also leads by example in competition,” Potomac Falls head coach Daniel Gavin said. “His results on the mat have been almost as impressive as himself as a student-athlete.”
On top of his athletically helping the team, Hurrell leads the Panthers by motivating the entire team on and off the mat.
“Spencer is a fantastic teammate. He is the captain of our team and has gone out of his way during his senior year to help the rookie wrestlers with technique and overall advice about the sport,” Gavin said. “When others would only worry about their own season, he is making sure that everyone is getting the most out of each practice.”
By Owen Gotimer
Nominated by Ryan Webb
John Champe High School junior Brad Murray is everything a high school swim coach is looking for and more. Murray may not be the fastest swimmer in the water, but he understands his role and often swims in more difficult events and events he isn’t particularly keen on swimming in because he knows it will help his team.
“Brad shows a team-first mentality because he is always willing to do the more demanding events such as the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard butterfly,” John Champe head coach Ryan Webb said. “These aren’t particularly his events that he would like to swim but he knows that it is best for the team. He even received first place in the 200-yard IM in the first meet against Riverside!”
Through three meets in December, Murray turned in his best times in the 200-yard IM (2:38.93) and 100-yard freestyle (1:04.37) against Riverside on December 5, in the 500-yard freestyle (6:35.04) against Potomac Falls on December 11, and in the 200-yard freestyle (2:24.67) against Fauquier on December 19. Those times do not top the LoCo Top Times standings, however, across those three meets, Murray scored nearly 10-percent of the Knights’ points.
Of the 90-percent of his team’s points he didn’t score, he made sure to take some responsibility in making sure his teammates made it to the blocks on time.
“Brad is a good teammate because he not only focuses on his races but others’ as well,” Webb said. “He actually helped some of our new swimmers remember when to swim because it was their first time at a high school meet!”
By Kyle Gotimer
In the month of December, Tuscarora High School senior lineman Brad Nelson stepped into a leadership role for his team. Nelson led the Huskies’ offensive line this year in their effort to defend senior quarterback Daniel Smith and open gaps for senior running backs James Douglas and Taj Malave-Neely.
After going undefeated in the regular season, the Huskies ended their postseason run with a 13-1 overall record after losing to Stone Bridge High School in a VHSL 5A state quarterfinal, 54-41.
“We were forced to change our offensive lineup several times during a long season and Brad was instrumental in helping the new players make the adjustments on and off the field,” Tuscarora head coach Michael Burnett said.
Nelson’s team-first mentality was the key to Tuscarora’s offensive success this season. Nelson helped his teammates settle into their new roles.
“Brad Nelson was the most selfless player on our team,” Burnett said. “He was always willing to do whatever was necessary for our team’s success.”
By Kyle Gotimer
Nominated by Jay Geyer
In the month of December, Rock Ridge High School senior guard Justyn Tate led his team to a 5-4 overall record. Tate is a leader on and off the court for the two-year old Phoenix basketball program.
“Justyn is a great teammate because of the enthusiasm and energy he brings everytime he steps onto the court,” Rock Ridge head coach Jay Geyer said. “He picks his teammates up and stays positive. Every single offseason workout or practice after a tough loss, Justyn comes into the gym with a passion and energy that he passes onto others.”
“Justyn just wants to win. He will play any role that we need and puts the team ahead of his own goals,” Geyer said. “Even with players who he battles with for playing time, he shows tremendous support, leadership and excitement when they succeed on the court. He is a vocal leader on the court and in the locker room. His impact on the team cannot be measured by stats.”
By Kyle Gotimer
In November 2015, Tuscarora High School sophomore Emma Wolcott led her team to a VHSL 5A state title. Wolcott swept the course in the VHSL 5A state title meet with a time of 18:32, pairing her team championship with an individual state title.
Not only an exceptional athlete, Wolcott was a leader for her teammates — helping them on the course and in the classroom.
“As a leader, [Emma] provides positive words of encouragement to her teammates before and after races,” Tuscarora head coach Troy Harry said.
Wolcott also isn’t afraid to show her soft side. Before the the state title meet, Wolcott made an affectionate offering to her teammates.
“Prior to the state championship meet, she made personalized fortune cookies for the runners and coaches,” Harry said. “It was truly a moving sentiment but, that’s how she is. She’s not overly vocal and chose to communicate her support in a very personal and encouraging message to her teammates that day.”