LoCoSports Athletes of the Month: May 2016

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(June 10, 2016) – In an effort to better recognize student-athletes in Loudoun County who positively affect high school athletics in the area, the LoCoSports team has selected its May 2016 Athletes of the Month for baseball, lacrosse, soccer, softball and track & field.

The selections were made from nominations based on the following criteria: success, hustle, work ethic, attitude 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 owen@locosports.info.

Photo by Owen Gotimer

By Owen Gotimer
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Nominated by Kathryn Blessing

When starting a program at a new high school, coaches look for players to take control of games from both a performance and leadership standpoint. Rock Ridge High School sophomore shortstop Lauryn Clarke has certainly stepped up to the plate for the second-year Phoenix softball team.

“She has the best attitude and work ethic a coach could ask for. She plays with heart and is always hustling,” Rock Ridge head coach Kathyn Blessing said. “Overall, she’s a very well-rounded, polite, charismatic young lady and we love her!  She is definitely the heart and soul of our team.”

LoCoMusingsBannerOn top of her leadership skills, Clarke led the Phoenix in hits, RBI, batting average, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and home runs this spring.

The everyday shortstop has a solid approach at the plate and is a versatile infielder and pitcher, filling in wherever her coaches ask her to.

“Normally she plays shortstop or third base, but wherever she plays, she adjusts accordingly and kills it,” Blessing said. “When we had three games one week back in April, she had to pitch all 19 innings because our other pitcher was injured. After that week she basically had to rest her arm, but refused to be totally out of the game so we put her at first base and she was lights out.”

Funez

Photo by Mary Beth Pittinger

By Owen Gotimer
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Nominated by Jennifer Nunez

A recent slump for Patriot team sports has been balanced out the last few years by the success of the varsity boys soccer team at Park View High School, and this season’s soccer squad is no exception. Led by junior midfielder – and the Conference 21B player of the year – Obdulio Funez, the Patriots are headed to a VHSL 4A state semifinal at 4 p.m. on June 10 at Liberty University.

“Obdulio is a positive influence because his leadership has been earned by his character, not just because of his talent,” Park View head coach Arturo Jimenez said. “He shows the rest of the team that being the leader means being positive, looking out for teammates and thinking about the team before himself.”

NEW LSTC ad1Funez led the Patriots to a 12-3-1 regular season which included a second place finish in Conference 21B. But a strong postseason push meant Park View claimed the Conference 21B tournament championship as well as the VHSL 4A West region title.

Funez was a big part of the Patriots’ success this spring scoring 19 goals while assisting on 24 others.

“Obdulio has great foot skills, and he can anticipate the play,” Jimenez said. “The way he reads the game and sees the whole field really helps him put together his strength and stamina so that he is a great playmaker. He probably could have had more of his own goals, but he looks for the best shot for the team, not for him.”

On top of his leadership skills on the field, Funez reminds Jimenez every day what a leader and teammate is supposed to be.

“He brings bananas for everyone on the team before games for energy and potassium instead of just bringing one for himself. This is just an example of how he is thinking about the team as a unit, not individuals,” Jimenez said. “He doesn’t give up, he inspires with his intensity.  Like Urban Meyer said ‘people don’t see your intentions, they see your behavior.’ This is a good one for Obdulio because players always mean to be at their best, but he goes out and shows it every day.”

Hartzel

By Joe Skinner
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Nominated by Jane Curran

In a breakout year for girls lacrosse at Dominion High School, senior Bailey Hartzel led the Titans to a 14-1 record and a second place finish in the Dulles Group, before losing to the eventual group champion George Mason High School.

“Bailey has the ability to lift a team to a better level of play,” Dominion head coach Diane Traynor said. “She [has]a great attitude and is a natural born leader.”

GloveStix Banner AdTraynor goes on to say that, although Hartzel has a lot of athleticism, that can only take a team so far, and Hartzel’s role as a leader and team player sets an example for her teammates that helps the Titans win.

“She knows how to take advantage of opportunities on the field that best help the team,” Traynor said.  “She loves playing sports and that enjoyment and dedication shines through when she is on the field.”

Hunt

Photo by Owen Gotimer

By Morgan Widdifield
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Nominated by Jake Stapleton

What truly defines a good overall athlete is his ability to do many things well. A good track and field athlete might be able to run sprints, and thus, help his team in three different events. But a great track and field athlete is not just good at only sprinting events or hurdles or throwing; he’s able to do well in more than one discipline.

For Loudoun Valley High School’s Texas-transfer Tyler Hunt, he exemplifies this quality by his ability to do well and “take one for the team” by contributing in sprinting events, short relays and jumping events.

NEW LSTC ad1As a first year member of the Vikings’ track and field team, no one expected him to finish out his season with a school record in the long jump or to qualify for the VHSL 4A state meet in the team relay and jumping events.

“Tyler has a natural athletic ability. That being said, he is a talented athlete because he is coachable,” Loudoun Valley jumping coach Alyce Martin said. “He listens to what is being asked of him, applies that knowledge and pushes himself to win.  He works and practices hard and competes like a champion.”

Lacy

By Kyle Gotimer
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Nominated by Jena Calvitti

This spring Tuscarora High School made an appearance in the VHSL 5A North region quarterfinal. To reach this point, Tuscarora senior catcher Noah Lacy led his team through a tough Conference 14: one of the toughest conferences in Virginia.

“Noah brings a level of great intensity to our team,” Tuscarora head coach Mark Bauer said. “He is very passionate about his team and his teammates. More importantly he’s a competitor who wants to win.”

DST

Lacy earned an all-conference selection this year while leading his team to a 16-7 record, including a 5-3 conference record.

“He – along with the other five seniors on my team this year – brought that winning mentality to work every day, and they became the most successful team in our short six year history at Tuscarora. Their goal was to win the first ever championship. Do whatever it takes to win,” Bauer said. “His level of play along with that winning mentality helped earn him all-conference at the catcher position this season. His teammates knew they could count on him.”

The UVA-Wise-bound senior, clean-up hitter pounded in runs and found a way on base when the Huskies most needed it. His dedication to his team helped them come together as one.

“He’s a hard worker,” Bauer said. “He pushed himself in the weight room the last four years and it has paid off. He comes to practice every day to get better and when you’re constantly trying to improve your game, that’s how you become a college caliber player like he has.”

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Local student-athletes pour sweat, tears and long hours into their crafts while maintaining eligible academic standing, and it’s time for each and every one of them — no matter their school, their sport or their gender — to be showcased. LoCoSports — you’ll go crazy for our sports coverage!

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  1. Lauryn “Lo” Clarke is one of the most amazing players I have ever had the honor to coach (in 20 years) and watch play the game of softball! Very deserving recognition. Watch her play, she’s worth the price of admission.