Lambert Takes the Helm of Clarke Varsity Softball

By Claire Stuart

There’s been a changing of the guard for the girls’ softball teams at Clarke County High School.  Darren “Fly” Lambert has moved into the top spot as varsity head coach after six years as JV head coach, replacing Susan Grubbs, who retired after 31 years. Lambert coached Eagles JV baseball before coaching JV softball and sees no major differences between coaching boys and coaching girls. Asked whether he expects coaching varsity to differ much from JV, he replied, “Being that this is my first year at the varsity level, I’m expecting it to be different. However, when I coached at the JV level, some would say that it’s just JV, but I never took that stance or that philosophy. Although it was JV, I took it very seriously. Of course, there is more at stake at the varsity level, since wins and losses count more. Ultimately we are playing for a state championship. At the JV level, you can’t do that.”

He went on to explain that Clarke County is part of the Bull Run District, which recently initiated a program where the top two JV teams play for the district championship.  “I think that was implemented last year. We were not involved in that championship, unfortunately.  But in the years I coached at the JV level, I would say that almost every year we were pretty successful. The varsity has always had success, but last year was a down year. They had just 6 wins. We’ll be hoping to improve on last year’s season.”

Lambert doesn’t anticipate making any major changes in the varsity program. “The previous head coach was here over 30 years, and I coached JV under the old coach. I will probably implement the same things, but I’ll bring my own style of coaching to the varsity level. A little different, but not much. I try to instill a fun atmosphere and at the same time provide the fundamentals of softball skills—it’s very
important.  I’ve always used the phrase ‘I’m not a coach, I’m a teacher’ and I am still teaching the fundamentals.” Many of the varsity girls have been playing “since T-ball.” They play fast-pitch, and Lambert says that some strong pitchers can pitch up to 65 miles per hour.  “Coming from 43 feet, that’s pretty fast!” Unlike high-profile sports like football and basketball, a high school softball career isn’t likely to lead to possible fame and fortune. However, Lambert’s team is enthusiastic, and they play for love of the game.  Lambert notes that there are scholarships available. “Any time you play high school sports, there’s always the possibility of going forward at the college level. But it’s a big commitment.” He indicated sophomore Kacie Turner. “I know Kacie has that ambition, to move forward to play in college.” Turner, who pitches and plays outfield and shortstop, affirmed that she hopes for a scholarship. “I intend to play in college.”

On the other hand, junior Alissa Hoggatt says she doesn’t intend to play college softball. Senior Kiley Ramey concurs, saying, “It’s mainly for fun at this point for me.” There is some division around the state about a requirement for players to wear face masks. “It is not a requirement by the Virginia High School League (VHSL),” says Lambert, “but a lot of our infielders do wear face masks. I look for the VHSL making it a mandatory rule very soon, at least for pitchers. I don’t know if they would do it for infielders or not. But really, I believe pitchers should wear face masks.” Hoggatt, who plays outfield and first base, says “I wear a face mask in the field.” Turner says she only wears a face mask when she is pitching.Ramey, catcher and shortstop, says “I choose not to wear a face mask.”

The varsity team plays their first game on March 18 against James Wood at home.  Clarke County plays all of their district opponents two times, home and away. Lambert reports that the Bull Run District was just realigned and Madison and Page Counties are now included. “They will be two of our bigger rivals in our district. I would anticipate that those teams are probably two of the best teams in the state of Virginia. Madison was in our district before; Page wasn’t. Seems like at least the last four years we played Page County in the first round of our regionals, so they are our nemesis, to say the least! And now we get to play them twice in our district.”

Rachel Thompson replaces Lambert as JV coach. She works in the Special Education Department at Cooley Elementary while taking on-line classes in criminal psychology in preparation for a law enforcement career. “It’s great to return to where I graduated and played softball and get a coaching job,” she says.

If you have a business you’d like to publicize, you can help the teams and get an advertising banner. Says Lambert, “It’s a fund-raiser for the softball program. Four-by-eight-foot banners will be displayed on the playing field. The price is $200, including production of the banner that will be displayed at 20 games — ten home varsity and ten JV — a pretty good deal!” It looks like an exciting start for the season and Coach Lambert.

Proud Supporters of Clarke Softball
Accurate Accounting & Bookkeeping
Bank of Clarke County
Blue Ridge Insurance
Body Art Tattoo
Blue Ridge Home Inspections
Broy & Son Pump
Cochran’s Lumber
Delta Painting
Grand Home Furnishings
GPRLeah Clowser, Realtor
Local Wood
Lowry’s Crab Shack
Malloy Toyota
Mario’s Pizza
ME Flow
Randy Kelley Poured Walls
Saville’s Service Center
Shenandoah Electrical
Shenandoah Sheds
Shenandoah Valley Orthodontics
Split Ends Salon
Starkey Construction
Suite Office Systems
Temp-A-TronTrick Trucks
TW Perry
Winchester Discount Radio
Yount Hyde & Barbour

A Tribute To John Lyttle

By Judy Melton

Just like the song says, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.” Heaven surely gained a new saint on the day that Clarke County lost John Lyttle. 

John was that very rare combination of high intellect, deep humility and consistent good works. He could not give enough of himself away to others. Having multiple available options, he chose to live the Sermon on the Mount. He lifted the heaviest of the hand bells in our Voices in Brass group. He sang in the men’s section of our adult church choir. A lay minister, he preached from the pulpit occasionally, served as church moderator, and performed weddings (including one at night, on his own front lawn). My husband Bob often assisted him when he provided background music at the bluegrass concerts at the high school, Berryville yard sales, and the Christmas parades. He led Bible studies for the all-but-forgotten residents at Mary Hardesty House, and took them complete dinners on Thanksgiving. This winter he split and delivered firewood to a woman who had no other source of heat. He also replaced bathroom flooring for a widow with a badly injured hand. In our church he ran the sound system, got rid of pests (bats), lit candles, changed out light bulbs, replaced batteries. In his bearing, he possessed a quiet, reverent joy. On Super Bowl Sunday we worshipped at Berryville Baptist. Prayers were offered, the choir sang,  the sermon was preached. There was a fundraising lunch in the fellowship hall to benefit the youth department. Bob said he saw John drop $40 into the donation basket for an upcoming missions trip. Then he went to his home on Moose Road. He walked through his cluttered garage and into his house to his beloved wife Kim. Sometime that night he climbed the stairs to the bathroom. There he fell, hit his head and died. He had just turned 68. 

We were very surprised when the phone rang at 8am the next day. Bob said, “John who?” He handed the phone to me, his face white. I heard Kim say in a faint mechanical voice, “John died last night.” I blurted out, “John who?” just before it hit me. The rest of the week was a blur.The church was packed, with every program distributed. Several of us stood and gave heartfelt and sometimes amusing tributes. Our little church is trying to soldier on. Our minister is due to retire in April. We were looking forward to changes and new beginnings. But John was supposed to lead the search committee with his calm, measured demeanor. He and I were supposed to sing an arrangement by Bill Gaither. John was supposed to do this, John was supposed to do that. Did we rely on him too much? Probably. There are so many of us whose lives John impacted for good. There are so many needs out there. For those of us who knew him, each act of kindness is a way to honor John’s memory.

Wake Up, It’s Later Than You Think!

As the Crow Flies

Story and illustration by Doug Pifer

March sneaks up on me. I still consider it the beginning of nature’s year when the earliest spring birds and flowers appear. But now there’s a somber side to nature’s awakening, an odd, empty feeling, like waking up to discover I forgot to set the alarm clock. Time has passed while I’ve been snoozing. What did I miss and why is it so quiet? For one thing, migrating grackles and red-winged blackbirds used to pass overhead a week later than they do now. And I used to see many more of them. Titmice, cardinals and mourning doves once serenaded the dawn while robins caroled softly. Just ahead of sunrise as spring advanced, birdsong swelled across the country like a wave. That daily chorus has diminished into a trio or maybe a quartet. Rachel Carson predicted a “Silent Spring” in 1970. In 2020 that day is nearly upon us. Insects once heralded the spring. Today hardly a bee buzzes to greet the earliest daffodil or crocus. Where are the flocks of midges that used to dance in clusters on sunny days? I can’t remember the last time I saw that dark spring butterfly, the mourning cloak, open and close its buff-edged wings in the March sun. Where are the ants when I sit in the grass and where are the first chirping crickets? I miss hearing frogs and toads. As March warms the winter nights, I hear a peep or two instead of a deafening chorus of spring peepers. I’ve lost some of my hearing but it’s not only that. The serenades of toads trilling and frogs clucking from temporary spring pools are fading from memory, like popular songs that are now golden oldies. When I was young, the February story of the groundhog digging out of its burrow to see its shadow became vivid to me when I watched a newly awakened groundhog lumber across a field in search of a mate, weeks before the grass started to turn green.  Mention “Groundhog Day” to most people and they think of a 1993 movie. How many people today would recognize a real groundhog if they saw one? How did we get here?  Too many of us, as a species, believe and act as if we exist outside of the natural world. We cling to the old pioneer ethic of “man against nature.” This outlook has been destructive and self-defeating.  It’s natural for us, as animals, to do what we can to meet our needs. Farming, building, manufacturing and commerce come naturally to us. But we distance ourselves from the negative consequences of these actions. And we talk about “the environment” as if it’s home for our fellow creatures but not for us. We need to realize it’s our environment too. We’re part of, not separate from, nature. It is arrogant and incorrect to think or act as if we have a superior role in the web of life. To repair the harm we’ve done our atmosphere, water and soil requires us to reclaim our natural role as stewards of the earth. This planet is our home and we’re all responsible for its care. Wake up. It’s later than you think.

Holistic Mental Health Therapy Comes to Berryville

By Geo Derick Giordano

The Sanctuary Wellness Center welcomed a new therapist to our community of holistic health practitioners. Terri George, M.ED, LPC joins us after working for three decades in community mental health and psychiatric hospital settings. Ms. George states, “I’ve seen how counseling can help people who are in crisis or are working through personal problems such as past trauma, mental illness, grief, or relationship issues. Blending an integrative approach to wellness in my therapy practice here at the Sanctuary WC in Berryville allows me the opportunity to enhance the benefits of talk therapy and traditional psychiatric medication with holistic strategies that address the body as a whole. It can increase one’s self efficacy, and help us to discover the healing capacity that we all innately possess. A therapist’s role is to ask the right questions, to help you consider and progressively make the changes necessary to enjoy a healthier state of mind, body, spirit and a better quality of life.”As a licensed professional counselor, Terri believes that a variety of approaches are needed for the uniqueness of the individuals she serves. Her particular skill sets include general adult mental health issues and disorders, co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders with a focus on 12-step facilitation, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, meditation, tapping and trauma informed recovery. She is looking forward to being certified in equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) later this year. She explains, “The integrative resources available for me to do my work at the Sanctuary are invaluable and I value the experience, wisdom and insight of a truly diverse group of holistic counselors. Included are Registered Medical Herbalists, and specialists certified in Nutrition, Homeopathy, Energy medicine, Meditation, Yoga, Reiki, Shiatsu, Cranial-sacral, Massage & Music therapies, and Ayurvedic health counseling. These holistic options & classes offered here in Berryville are some of the many strategies that can make a positive difference in our lives.” Ms. George explains, “My hope is to understand and appreciate what’s most important to my clients, to help them establish positive and measurable goals, to prescribe interventions that service those goals and that address the physical aspects, spiritual components and the psychological and mental issues that they identify.” 

To learn more about her, you may go to the website: counseling/#terri-george. To find out about rates, or to schedule a session with Terri, email her at

The Berryville Beat

Well, Berryville, we have reached the end of the year and the holiday season is upon us. We wish you and your family a safe and happy end to the year.

The end of the year is always a time to reflect, but also look ahead. One of the exciting projects we are looking forward to in 2020 is a revamped John Rixey Moore playground in Rose Hill Park. The project entails keeping many of our popular playground features, and making some necessary updates.

Central to the project is the replacement of the current playset structure. The current structure is expected to be removed sometime in December. In its place will be a new play structure ideal for ages 5 to 12 years old, with slides and climbing structures. 

We have made sure to maintain some of the current playground’s biggest draws. The four-seated seesaw and riding horses will remain, though they will be repainted to match the new play structure. New diggers will be installed. The swing set structure will remain, but with new swings — including two that are ideal for younger riders — and new chains. It will also be repainted. 

There will be some new additions to accommodate our younger residents and visitors. There will be a stationary car, a basketball goal and musical equipment, all appropriate for children aged 2 to 5. 

For those sunny days, we hope you will appreciate the installation of a shade structure, fixed to a picnic table, to provide some relief from the heat. As part of this project, we will also seal and re-line the basketball court, and make some improvements to the central feature of the park, the gazebo. All told, our total budget for this project is not to exceed $60,000.

The construction schedule is extremely weather dependent, as one can imagine, but we anticipate completion by late winter or early spring. We look forward to the warmer weather when town families and visitors, young and older, can enjoy the playground and the park. We anticipate a grand opening celebration sometime in the spring.

This monthly column is authored by the members of the Berryville Town Council. For more information on town government, including meetings, agendas, and contact information for the Town Council and town staff, visit