Honoring Athletic Excellence

The question isn’t, “What are we going to do?” The question is, “What aren’t we going to do?”
Yeah, I know. Ferris Bueller said that. Stay with me, though. There’s really a point here, even if the context is a bit off.
Kate Johnston actually used those immortal words as her senior quote. A 2019 Collegiate graduate and ultra-successful soccer player, Kate obviously had a point as well, but more about her in a moment.
Collegiate’s athletic teams had an outperform-the-performance-list spring season to put an exclamation mark on their body of work during the recently-completed school year.
The Cougars earned the Prep League Sportsmanship Award, an honor that reflects the tone set not just by the boys programs but by everyone who competes for, coaches, and supports Collegiate's teams.
“It’s icing on the cake,” said AD Karen Doxey. “It means so much because we believe so strongly in sportsmanship and preach it on a daily basis. We’re here to be good citizens and treat each other right. We hope that’s what we’re doing throughout our program.”
Collegiate also placed second in the Prep League Director’s Cup standings, a total-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts accomplishment considering that only the basketball team won a league title.
And at the conclusion of the spring season, five Collegiate athletes – two seniors and three juniors who rarely take a day off – earned accolades as “the best” in their fields of endeavor.
“Having five people recognized,” Doxey said, “is a huge feather-in-the-cap, not only to them but to our coaches and their teammates who are in the trenches with them every day and push them to excellence.”
The aforementioned Kate Johnston, who led the soccer squad to a 15-2-1 record and second consecutive VISAA championship, was honored as League of Independent Schools and state player of the year. A defensive center midfielder, the James Madison recruit scored six goals and assisted on seven others. A multiple all-league and all-state standout and 2018 Richmond Times-Dispatch All-Metro player of the year, she ended her career with 23 goals and 24 assists.
“K.J. excelled as a leader of the girls soccer program,” said Coach Rob Ukrop. “Her ability to influence the game has been inspiring both on and off the field.”
Alabama-bound Caroline Curtis concluded her luminous high school golf career with one last shining moment: a 1-under 71 to earn tri-medalist honors and lead the Cougars to a runner-up finish in the state tournament at the Williamsburg National Golf Club.
During her final seven interscholastic matches, she shot 1-over or better six times including three rounds under par. A champion on the local, regional, and national amateur circuit, she’s earned multiple All-Prep and all-state honors.
“Caroline is a constant competitor with laser focus,” said Coach Jeff Dunnington. “Since joining the varsity as an 8th grader, she’s chosen to play from the men’s tees to better prepare herself for her college and, hopefully, pro career. Despite all of her accolades in the outside golf world, she loved playing for her school.”
Nigel Williams, a varsity baseball regular since the 8th grade, earned Prep League player of the year honors for the 16-7 Cougars. The junior shortstop batted .486 with 24 RBI and 12 stolen bases. His 34 hits included eight doubles, three triples, and five home runs. He also pitched 9.1 innings (2-1 record with a save) and compiled a 1.50 earned run average.
“Nigel embraced his role as a leader and great teammate from the start of open gyms in November,” said Coach Andrew Slater. “He possesses a special talent to make those around him better in the way he communicates and approaches competing. He’s shown tremendous work ethic, toughness, and grit. I’m extremely proud of how he’s developed as a teammate and young man.”
A junior lacrosse midfielder, Maggie Bostain earned All-LIS and All-State honors (again) and was voted league player of the year for the 18-6 Cougars. The 2018 T-D player of the year, she scored 80 goals, contributed 18 assists, and recorded 152 draw control wins. Her three-season stat line reads 185 goals, 41 assists, and 287 draw controls.
“Maggie has a heart of gold and gives every ounce of herself every practice and every game,” said Coach Caitlin Brooks. “She is the most dynamic player on the field. Her speed, agility, and explosive power set her apart. She is a true competitor and a first class athlete.”
Junior Liam Bellamy became a force on the track this spring. He worked through early season injuries that limited his training to become one of the top middle distance runners among all runners in the state, regardless of school designation.
At the elite Dogwood Track Classic in Charlottesville May 4, he surpassed Chris DeCamps’ 19-year-old 800 mark (1:55.87) with a 1:53.86 performance.
He cruised to victory in the Prep League 800 (1:57.47) and, as a relay anchor, led the 4x800 (8:10.04 with Sam Hart, Johnny White, and Will Neuner) and 4x400 (3:30.32 with K.J. Rodgers, Brooks Moore, and Neuner) to league crowns. He was an easy pick for league Most Valuable Runner accolades.
A week later, he and his 4x800 teammates won the state title in 8:03.73, the second fastest time in school history, and three hours later he lowered his 800 mark to 1:52.87 with a photo-finish victory.
His personal best 400, which he ran in a mid-week meet in late April, was 49.81, a half-second off the school record.
“Liam is a hard-working, dedicated athlete whose competitive drive is balanced with his commitment to team, sportsmanship, and humility,” said Coach Matthew Richardson. “Despite being fast – really fast – Liam is a student of the sport. He asks questions, trains hard, and seeks to improve every day.
“His daily pursuit of excellence elevates his teammates both in what they are willing to contribute in practice and what they expect of themselves in races. Liam allows his running to speak for itself and tackles workouts and races with a sense of humor which keeps things fun for all involved.”
     -- Weldon Bradshaw
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