Fall sports are well under way at our local high schools and nowhere can you find greater enthusiasm than among the athletes and coaches at Matoaca High School.
“We have finally gotten to the point where we have a full complement of players so that freshmen are not being forced into service at the varsity level,” hockey coach Michael-Jon Rodney said after a recent practice session where some 35 girls were preparing for the opening of the field hockey season.
The Warriors are off to a good start, as they have recorded two shutout victories in scrimmage wins over Bird and Henrico. In those two scrimmages, junior Lauren Rapp has been a scoring machine, while senior Alison Peterson has proven to be an effective keeper. Michaela McNamara is excited about the team, which includes eight seniors.
“This should be the year we challenge the perennial favorites,” McNamara said. “We had a number of girls involved in off-season programs, which should really help us.” Nicole Herbert is an All-District returnee who has adopted hockey as her primary sport. She speaks glowingly about her coach, Kate Doctor.
“She is such an inspiration and role model,” she said of Doctor. “She is a serious coach, who demonstrates such respect for the game.” Nicole added, “She understands the importance of having a good time out here though.”
Adam Griffin’s volleyball team achieved success last year that hadn’t been seen at Matoaca before. Much of the team is returning to action this fall and expectations are high. All-around athlete Ryan Clapman should be a real standout for the Warriors.
The golf team is off to a great start, placing second among a strong field in the Spring Creek/Mustang Invitational and then dominating a strong Cosby team in a match play event. The top eight players are juniors and seniors, led by Michael Romig. Romig won the Junior Club Championships at the Highlands last weekend. Jason Wells, Patrick Johnson, Tyler Hancock, Jack Field and Tyler Broach have been filling out the top six for the Warriors.
At Pocahontas State Park, the cross country team under the leadership of Nolan Shigley and newcomer Kristin Polich have been preparing for its first meet. The girls lost three significant runners, including Emily Brock, but feel the gain from the younger classes may more than make up for the loss. The Warriors will be paced by seniors Emily Bell and Blake Hadden, with newcomer Hannah Green coming on strong. On the boys’ side, defending district champion Joel Reynolds is returning. He has recovered from a stress fracture experienced last spring and looks strong as ever. Joel’s brother, Matt, along with Thomas Hartka, Andrew Bean, Heath Anderson and Ben Thoreson, will round out a very strong varsity squad.
“They are really pushing one another in practice,” said Polich. The Warriors will miss Matt Parker, who is now running at UVA-Wise, but Bean believes the team is going to be fine. “We are living by the motto - if you come back clean, you aren’t trying,” Bean said.
It is obvious that it not just football these days at Matoaca.