Athletes of the Year

Rick Spiers
Baseball
Senior at Matoaca High School

In his high school career, Spiers followed in the footsteps of many Matoaca players before him – both as a leader that led by example and as a player who will ascend to the next level, as he committed to Randolph-Macon this spring. Matoaca was led by Spiers in nearly every offensive category as he hit .436 with eight doubles, four triples and knocked in 19 runs. The senior slugged .782 on the year and pitched very well, with a 2.23 earned run average, striking out a batter per inning across 37 innings pitched.

Spiers played effectively as Matoaca’s staff ace on the hill, in the infield and at catcher. The now Yellow-Jacket was a big part of Matoaca’s 17-2 season.

Jessica McCabe
Softball
Senior at Matoaca High School

An outstanding junior season is a great thing. Follow that with an even better senior season and James Madison University has itself a pitcher next year. Jessica McCabe led Matoaca to their second straight Conference/District title this year, pitching 130 innings and striking out 238 batters. McCabe’s earned run average was a microscopic 0.25 while she won 16 games. The Warrior pitched three perfect games, three no-hitters and 12 shutouts. At the plate, she hit .517 with two home runs and 25 RBI. Matoaca softball finished 16-5 in Scott Driskill’s last season at the helm of the program and lost a heartbreaker in the 5A South region quarterfinals to Atlee 1-0. Scott Driskill, who retired after this season, called coaching McCabe a “coach’s dream.”

Bernardo Mendez
Boys Soccer
Junior at Meadowbrook High School

Mendez, the Conference 12 first team goalie, and second team all 5A South Region goalie of the year, was a huge reason for Meadowbrook’s success on the field for yet another season. As the season went on, Mendez became more involved as a leader on the field, keeping the team focused on fundamentals in practice. Head coach Gabriel Hochstetler praises the goalkeeper for his work in the classroom, where he gets great grades and compliments from his teachers on his work ethic. On the field, Mendez has great instincts, great ball skills and is a dynamic goalie that isn’t afraid to leave the box, and slide to get the ball.

“I don’t think we gave up a goal all season that was directly his fault,” said Hochstetler.

Mendez will be a key part of Meadowbrook’s team next season as they look for the youth from a strong junior varsity program to propel the team to a Conference Champion and another strong showing in regionals.

Dominique Grubbs
Girls Soccer
Freshman at Thomas Dale High School

Though just a freshman, Thomas Dale’s top striker was able to haul in player of the year honors on the strength of a 22 goal, seven assist season. Grubbs was the top scoring option for the 2014 Knights who advanced to the 6A South Regional Quarterfinal and were Conference 3 tournament runner-ups. Grubbs attacked alongside senior Bridget Schindel, giving the Knights a formidable 1-2 punch.

“Grubbs has the speed and skill to get behind defenses,” explained head coach John Kabler. “At the beginning of the season she would rush her shots, but by the end of the season she was putting a higher percentage of her shots in the back of the net.”

Kabler also added that Grubb’s freshman performance was the best he’s seen in his 10 years at Dale, also stating that at the clip she’s going at currently, she has the potential to re-write the Thomas Dale record books.

Brandon Harper
Boys Tennis
Senior at Matoaca High School

As a junior, Brandon Harper was a leader for Matoaca boy’s tennis alongside Austin Powers. As a senior, he was the heart and soul of the program. As Matoaca’s top seed he brought home the Conference 12 championship in singles play and doubles play with teammate Reid Driskill. For his efforts, he was named Village News Sports player of the year.

“He’s the consummate Warrior,” said Matoaca head coach Christopher Syzbisty. “He never gives up and always finds a way to beat his opponent.”

Harper helped to guide his team to Conference 12 runner-up this year after earning a share of the Central District championship with Thomas Dale last season. Harper will begin his college career at John Tyler with aspirations to transfer to either Virginia Tech or James Madison.           

Linda Nguyen
Girls Tennis
Senior at Meadowbrook High School

Over the past four years, Nguyen has been one of the main reasons for Meadowbrook’s growth on the tennis court. This season she was one of the top players in Conference 12 and the best female player in the area, defeating Thomas Dale’s Elizabeth Clark (8-2, 8-4) and Matoaca’s Jacee Johnston (8-1) handily. Not just the top seed on the courts, Nguyen is an outstanding student, graduating in the top 10 percent of Meadowbrook’s 2014 class. The Meadowbrook graduate will attend George Mason University in the fall for academics. For her play on the courts and work in the classroom, she was selected as the Village News Sports girls’ tennis player of the year.

Devorian Dandridge
Boys Track
Senior at Matoaca High School

Dandridge is a classic story of how never giving up works. After badly breaking his femur two years ago, Dandridge rebounded to be a leader for Matoaca’s track program in and out of the classroom, taking sixth in the 5A State 100m dash, a second place finish in the region in the long jump, and a Conference 12 title in the 100m, also finishing as conference runner-up in the 200 and 400m. The senior, who is bound for James Madison University for academics with a 3.2 GPA, won the HCA Comeback of the Year scholarship and earning a spot on the 5A All-State track team.

“He worked his butt off to come back and perform the way he did,” said Matoaca track head coach Charles Bailey. “He left it all out there at states, maybe not the result he wanted but I’m very proud of him.”

While colleges didn’t come calling again with interest for track scholarships, with Dandridge’s attitude, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him on a track next fall.

Gabriel Hochstetler
Meadowbrook Boys Soccer
Spring Sports Coach

In his first year as varsity head coach Gabriel Hochstetler inherited a talented squad built mostly by former head coach Billy Rudd and the products of Hochstetler’s JV program. It was built to win – and win it did. Meadowbrook’s overall team speed and offense were enough to overwhelm most opponents. Combine that with a top notch goalie in junior Bernardo Mendez and the Monarchs were bound to have a successful season. As a teacher, Hochstetler teaches social studies- more specifically IB Psychology and U.S. History. He graduated from James Madison University.  

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