(March 7, 2016) – 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 February 2016 Teammates of the Month for basketball, gymnastics, swimming 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 [email protected]
By Morgan Widdifield
Nominated by The Jungle
All coaches want someone who exemplifies the following characteristics: selflessness, coachability and a superior work ethic. Loudoun Valley High School senior Katie Conklin has gone through her four years on the varsity gymnastic team showcasing those characteristics and, as captain, has proved her value to the team.
“Katie has a superior work ethic that makes her a leader. She encourages all of her teammates to be better. She is another ‘set of eyes’ in the gym,” Loudoun Valley head coach Jennifer Cooper-Barlow said. “She provides positive feedback to her teammates in order to help them improve their skills. She helps demonstrate skills to help enhance her teammates learning. Katie’s teammates look up to her and respect her opinions.”
From the moment she tried out, Conklin has proved to be a leader. Also, a member of the Vikings track and field team, she has learned how to put the team first in a predominantly, individually characterized sport.
“From her freshman year, Katie was taught that the team is more important than the individual recognition. I stress this concept from the beginning with the team,” Cooper-Barlow said. “On two occasions this season Katie and her fellow co-captain, Helen [Sternberg], had to create a lineup that had all of her teammates in on one event. Katie took herself out of an event so that another teammate could compete and get an opportunity.”
By Hanna Duenkel
Nominated by Kyle Gallo
Motivation, determination and compassion are three things that Tuscarora head swimming coach Kyle Gallo found in sophomore Missy Cundiff. Cundiff spent her second season as a varsity swimmer cheering on her teammates as well as making a name for herself in the pool.
“What makes Missy a great teammate is that she is willing to work hard and push herself as well as support and push her teammates to become better,” Gallo said. “She wants to see not only herself succeed, but she wants her teammates to do just as well. She holds herself and her teammates to a high standard; that is what I believe makes her so successful and a great teammate.”
The freestyle specialist is also a key member of the girls 400-yard freestyle relay team, capping off the team as the final swimmer in the race. During races, she encouraged her fellow relay teammates, as well as cheered on other Tuscarora swimmers at meets.
“Missy is willing to swim anything, anytime, at any place,” Gallo said. “She will not complain about an event she may not like; she will just go out there and swim her tail off and try to beat anyone in her way to help the team win.”
By Kyle Gotimer
Nominated by Braden Nesselrodt
Captain of the Woodgrove High School boys basketball team and the team’s second leading scorer, senior Prakash Ellis gave his team everything in the month of February.
“Prakash was one of our captains and second leading scoring,” Woodgrove head coach Stephen Douglas said. “He was a dominant defender but known for his great shot blocking ability.”
Ellis is a fierce competitor who gives his all to his team and school. Ellis led his team to a 9-12 (4-1) season.
“Prakash’s will to win and competitiveness was so intense it wore off on his teammates which allowed us to play together at a high level,” Douglas said.
Ellis was more than just a leader on the court, but is a leader in the classroom and community as well.
“Prakash sent me a message after our last game in the region tournament which defines him, ‘You asked for my hustle, I gave you my heart,'” Douglas said. “I am so proud of the young man Prakash has become. He gave me everything a coach wanted: trust, loyalty, 100-percent on the floor.”
By Owen Gotimer
Nominated by The Jungle
While Loudoun Valley High School senior TJ Holdredge is not LoCo’s top wrestler, his work ethic and will to succeed allows him to push himself and his Viking teammates forward.
“TJ’s positive attitude is infectious,” Loudoun Valley head coach Troy Mezzatesta said. “It is that mindset that he brings to all drill sessions as well as pre- and post-practice extra sessions to assist younger, less experienced teammates.”
A senior leader for the Vikings, Holdredge’s hard work earned him a fourth place finish at the Conference 21B championships in the 182-pound weight class. His individual success did not go unnoticed, but his success in building the Loudoun Valley wrestling program is what shined through during Holdredge’s time on the mat.
“He works with younger wrestlers developing their skill set before and after practices,” Mezzatesta said. “He meets everyone with a positive attitude and that shows through his leadership.”