Eighth Grade Assignment Sparked Graduate to Top Secret Purpose

By René White, Lt. Col. (Retired) U.S. Air Force

Graduate Kassidy Zugelder attributes an elementary-school assignment to her life-changing decision to join the U.S. Air Force. 

“When I was in Mrs. Elizabeth Miller’s eighth grade, I had to do an essay about someone who was 35 years or older,” Kassidy said. “I wrote about my O-pa, my father’s dad Milton Zugelder, who lives in Strasburg, Va.” 

“O-pa retired from the Air Force after 21 years. I interviewed him and listened to his stories,” she said. “Then, presenting to the class sparked something inside of me.” 

Military stories from both her grandfathers influenced Kassidy’s future. Her mother’s father, Richard Vance Kave of Clarke County and graduate of 1966, also joined the Air Force. 

“I want to go places and do important things, and have some sort of bigger purpose to serve in my life,” Kassidy said. “In high school, I bounced around from basketball and DECA (Distinguished Education Clubs of America) to the Republican’s Club to robotics and anything I could explore to find my niche.” “Exploring opened me up to new people and new experiences,” she said. “I have always loved math and science; anything with numbers, I’m all over it.” 

Kassidy attended honors classes, completed 30 college credits, and is graduating with an advanced diploma with goal to become a Pharmacist.

“I didn’t want my family or me to go into debt paying for college,” she said. So, at age 17 Kassidy talked with her school counselors and parents about joining the Air Force. “I’m going to be a 1N431 Fusion Analyst in the Air Force,” Kassidy said. “I’ll read top secret documents to detect security threats for the United States and annotate documents to send to higher-ups.”

“This is my best course of action,” she said. Not only because she gets a job now and money for college she added, “I want to find who I am as a person and get a chance to go out and help people.”

After meeting recruiter Air Force TSgt Joshua Walters in Winchester Va., her mom Abby Zugelder said, “If this is what you want to do, who am I to stop you from your dreams to be as successful as you can be?”

Kassidy’s high score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery put her in the 99th percentile for science, 98th percentile for mathematics, and high 90’s for electronics. At age 17 she took early commitment with the Air Force Delayed Entry Program (DEP), which means she was locked in and waiting for an assignment. 

After two-weeks of COVID-19 quarantine, Kassidy departs on July 7 for Basic Military Training (BMT) at Lackland AFB Texas, then five months of technical training school at Goodfellow AFB, Texas. “I’m so excited,” she said. “When I think about going, packing up soon, or anything that deals with serving in the military I get this feeling of butterflies,” she added. “It’s overwhelming sureness! I have never felt so sure of anything in my whole life.” 

Dana Ramey: Compassion and a Strong Constitution

By Claire Stuart

Dana Ramey has more than just a dream of what it will be like to work at her chosen profession. While still attending school classes, the Clarke County High School 2020 graduate worked full time at Blue Ridge Veterinary Associates in Purcellville until she was laid off because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Blue Ridge Veterinary Associates is a large veterinary practice that also operates an emergency veterinary hospital that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They also offer boarding, grooming and doggie day care. They serve animals large and small, exotic to ordinary, from reptiles and birds to dogs, cats, goats and llamas. Ramey worked as a Kennel Technician in charge of feeding and walking the animals, in addition to helping the doctors and other technicians as needed.

Ramey will be taking Penn Foster College’s online program to become a licensed veterinary technician. It is a two-year program, but students may study at their own pace. 

Although many of the requirements for the course can be accomplished online, the program necessitates laboratories and hands-on learning exercises that must be verified by a veterinarian. If the students are actively working for a veterinary practice, they can complete their lab lessons at work where they can be checked by their employer.

It takes more than just a kind heart and a love for animals to become a veterinary technician. Unlike medical professionals that deal only with humans, veterinary professionals must be familiar with the anatomy, physiology, behavior and ailments of a host of animals, large and small. Plus, the vets and techs can’t expect to see any gratitude from their patients, who look forward to their visits with dread and fear, resulting in a constant struggle to avoid scratches and bites!

Beyond the routine vaccinations, dental care and nail clipping, there will be the injuries, broken bones and swallowed objects. There will be surgeries, allergies, digestive disorders, reproductive issues, behavior problems and life-threatening conditions such as cancer and heart disease. And of course, there is always the heartbreak of having to end the lives of beloved family pets.

Ramey says she is ready for whatever challenges her career will deliver. “It’s always very sad when pets have to be put down,” she acknowledged, “but I’ve always had pets, and we had to do it.”

Witness to many surgeries at the animal hospital, Ramey does not flinch at the sight of blood. She explained that, “Things that a lot of people think are gross don’t bother me. I have a very strong stomach!”

When she has completed her course and become a certified veterinary technician, she hopes to work with small animals, although she has had personal experience in raising large animals. She was active in 4-H for years, showing a variety of livestock, including goats, pigs, lambs and a steer. “I want to work with ordinary pets — dogs and cats,” she said. Currently, she has two dogs — a  blue heeler/pit-bull mix and a lab/Rottweiler mix. 

Dana is the daughter of John and Denise Ramey.

Kiley Ramey: An Energetic Animal Lover

By Rebecca Maynard

Kiley Ramey has a love for animals — she has showed goats, lambs, pigs, and steers at the Clarke County Fair since she was in fifth grade.

“I have always been interested in doing something with animals ever since I was little,” said Ramey, who has considered the possibility of K9 dog handling training. “When I was younger I always wanted to be ‘the cop that had a dog all the time with him,’ but now that I am older and see what’s going on in the world right now, I thought maybe not so much,” she said.

“So I thought about training dogs for law enforcement officers and other things like training services dogs as well.” Online canine instructor programs and courses are available, but with graduation just days behind her, she plans to take the summer off to spend time with family and friends and go to the beach.

As vice president for the Clarke County High School FFA (Future Farmers of America), Ramey held meetings once a month after school to talk about upcoming things and make sure to get everyone’s new ideas for the chapter, such as different fundraisers. “To finish up the meetings, we would plan something fun, and every year we all looked forward to our cornhole tournament meeting, where we would finish the night and meeting with some cornhole as well as some snacks and drinks!” Kiley said. 

“I’ve competed in quite a few different events over the past four years at our state convention every year in June,” Ramey said. “I competed in plant science my freshman year along with horse judging, I continued horse judging my sophomore year, my junior year I competed in ag sales, and due to COVID-19 I won’t be able to compete this year, my senior year, at state convention.”

Ramey has an identical twin sister, Dana, and going through school and other activities together was a unique experience.

“Being a twin is actually very entertaining when we go out of town together or go anywhere together,” Ramey said. “We get very strange stares and we already knew why everyone stared at us or took a double take. We always thought that was pretty funny.

The most stressful thing is doing everything together, going through school together, and hanging with family and friends that don’t always get to see us — because they can’t always get our names right — but we have both learned just to answer to both after a while. Being out together, we have gotten used to the question ‘Are you all twins?’ at least once after walking into a store.” 

“My favorite memory out of all the years of showing would have to be showing a lamb for the first time and winning Reserve Grand Champion market lamb!” Ramey said. “My sister and I have always been the girls that showed goats and pigs, and two years ago we decided to show lambs, as well. With a lot of help from family friends and my parents, we were able to get two lambs, one for my sister and one for me. All I can say is my first year with a lamb was a lot of hard work and a lot of long walks up and down our back roads! But it all paid off in the end.”

Education and Experiences Drive this Graduate to Care for Others

René White, Clarke County Resident and Maddy’s Granné 

Madison (Maddy) Fuller, a 2020 CCHS graduate, attributes much of her education to her experiences.

During CCHS she has taken several college medical courses and became certified in Incident Command Systems and Hazmat Awareness. 

Maddy joined Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company (BRVFRC) when she was 16-years old and has been running calls since she became CPR certified. This year, BRVFRC honored Maddy with the “Rescue Captain Award.” 

Maddy is a state-certified nursing assistant (CNA) and a Specialized Dementia Trainer. Last summer, Valley Health selected Maddy as one of the few “top performing CNAs” to work as an Emergency Department technician in the observation unit at their Winchester Medical Center. “Maddy’s delightful,” said Dr. Lisa Zerull, Ph.D., Valley Health’s academic liaison, who facilitates the health-care career-pathway by ensuring ‘today’s students become tomorrow’s Valley Heath employees.’ “Maddy is a highly motivated, very talented and high potential individual,” said Dr. Zerull describing Maddy’s maturity during the COVID-19 pandemic of putting on personal protective equipment to care for dying patients. “Maddy is one of those people the community says: Wow, she’s going places.” 

Maddy credits life’s experiences for real teachings. She has literally helped save people’s lives and says she is, “Designed to care.” 

“We are each designed differently, with capabilities and disabilities,” Maddy explained. “From babysitting to volunteering, I’ve always been driven towards helping others.” When asked what it means to get the most out of education Maddy said, “To my family, education means I have a greater chance of having a successful life and being able to provide for my future family. For me, education means more than this. “There are things that I know, like I know my name is Madison. There are things I know that I don’t know, like I know that I don’t know how to speak Russian. All of these things live in the area of things I know or in the realm of knowing

“What excites me, is that largely what exists in the world are things that ‘I don’t know that I don’t know.’ I would like to discover things that I don’t know that I don’t know, and move them into my realm of knowing; so, I’m conscious of the wonderment and endless possibilities of what I don’t know that I don’t know yet, in order to help others. This is what getting the most out of education means to me,” she said. 

Maddy graduates CCHS with honors and 20 college credits as a CNA and emergency medical technician. So far, Maddy has received close to $15,000 in 12 scholarships to attend nursing school at Lord Fairfax Community College. Additionally, Valley Health offered Maddy a full-time job. Maddy wants to thank her employer, teachers, community, friends and family for helping her. “I believe when I get added strength and support from others to be my full self, I really believe that I can be extraordinary for others. Helping others is in my heart,” Maddy said. “Thank you everyone.”

He Turned A Passion Into A Career

By Claire Stuart

Members of Clarke County High School Class of 2020, like every class before them, are faced with the question of what they are going to do next.

Recent research shows that the most popular college majors are business and the health professions. Currently, the “best jobs” are considered to be physical therapists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and software developers. 

Some students have been focused on a career for years, some go to college with no clear goals, hoping to find an inspiring major, and some go on to trade or technical schools.

Class of 2020 grad Hayden Hartsell is going his own way, planning a career that’s probably unfamiliar to most people.

Hartsell grew up on a farm and has never lived in town, and fall means it’s time to go deer hunting. His whole family enjoys hunting, and he started going out with his parents on hunting trips when he was about four years old. He describes deer hunting as his favorite hobby, but he occasionally hunts squirrel or turkey.

“I have a little sister,” he reports, “and she’s a more accomplished turkey hunter than I am!” Asked if he’d bagged any trophy bucks, he reports that he got a 9-pointer, with 18-inches across the brow. 

Proper maintenance of one’s hunting rifles is a must for any dedicated hunter. “But it’s expensive to have guns worked on,” says Hartsell, “so I figured that if I learned to do it myself, I’d save some money.” 

Hartsell taught himself to work on his guns through trial and error. He noted that he did go to YouTube to learn to apply bluing (a process that protects the metal finish against rust and superficial scratching) because “there are complicated chemicals.”

He had never planned on doing any more than caring for his own guns but he found that he enjoyed working on guns enough to consider doing it as a career, so he is taking an online course in professional gunsmithing. He explained that gunsmiths do a great variety of maintenance and repair. “The most common thing is that someone wants their stock redone — it’s scratched or chipped. There could be mechanical failures that the average person can’t figure out. And there can be modifications like barrel extension or re-chambering for 
new calibers.”

He reports that the course can be completed on-line in three months but students study at their own pace. “It covers all forms of modern-day civilian-use firearms, including shotguns, handguns, bolt-action rifles and traditional old style rifles.” It doesn’t include automatic weapons. The course consists of video lessons as well as physical projects that the school sends to the student to complete and return. At completion, he will be a licensed gunsmith.

But that is not Hartsell’s ultimate goal.  He plans to attend NOVA to take the first two years of a mechanical engineering program. Then he will apply to complete his degree at VCU.  Finally, he hopes to get a job with a firearms manufacturer as a firearms designer. He hasn’t gone so far as to picture himself designing a new gun, but he has already been thinking about working on recoil management systems.

Hayden is the son of Tad and Sara Hartsell of Berryville and grandson of Eddie and Barbara Hartsell of Warren County Va.

In A Hurry To Start A Career Helping Animals

By Tiffany Ford

Maeve Davis is graduating from CCHS and Mountain Vista Governor’s School with an Associates degree in science, a certificate in general education, and a career studies certificate from Allied Health.

I had the honor of talking to Maeve about her experiences and what she’s excited about now that she has graduated.

TF: What did you love about high school?
MD: One of the best parts of high school was getting into Governor’s School. It gave me the opportunity to meet people with varied interests all focused on math, technology and science, which was really exciting. My friends who go to CCHS were one of the best parts of my high school experience .We studied together, worked on projects together, laughed together.

TF: How did the Governor’s School/dual enrollment program work for you?
MD: Gov school classes are held at LFCC. I chose to take the AP classes to earn college credits. I’ve already taken a lot of the core classes that first-year college students take, so I can begin with junior-level classes. I’ll still have to stay on campus with other first years, but I can focus more on my field of study and graduate or transfer into a Master’s program much earlier.

TF: What do students need to know about dual enrollment? 
MD: I think there’s a negative connotation about community college that did not reflect my experience. LFCC is a great school. Campus grounds are amazing and well kept. The professors were always very nice and willing to help. It is an amazing opportunity to expand your education and to lessen the burden of college costs. If you can begin to chip away at it early, you can lessen the burden, whether it be financial, educational, or social later in life. The program is not for everyone; I did have to take a couple of extra classes to get my Associates degree but it was worth it.

TF: So, what happens next for you?
MD: I’ll be attending Virginia Tech this fall — hopefully — they haven’t made an announcement yet. I’m majoring in animal and poultry sciences with a possible dual minor in biology and history. I’m considering veterinary work specializing in marine or livestock. Which seems like a wide field, but I’ve worked with farm animals all my life, and I’m very comfortable with them. And there’s something so exciting about marine life. So I may work at a marine rehabilitation center or study environmental impacts on marine life.

TF: What would you say drives you?
MD: I have always known I wanted to be a vet. When you’re younger, you don’t think about money or things like that; so, for me, it was always just to get the learning done so I could help people and animals faster. Growing up, that hasn’t changed. But I’m more aware of the cost now. For me, getting into Governor’s School was like getting into college. When I opened that letter, that was my “I got into Tech” moment. For me it is: The sooner I get into school and get my degree, the sooner I can start helping animals and, in turn, 
helping people.

You Will Be Successful In All Your Endeavors

By Mark Viti, Valedictorian, CCHS Class of 2020

First off, I want us all to take the time to thank the family and friends who made this moment possible. From our parents helping with kindergarten reading assignments to our siblings driving us to practice, our families have supported our growth and achievement. We also must take a moment to celebrate the teachers, administrators, and staff who guided us to be both better students and people. They’ve worked extremely hard to make our goals possible, and their dedication to our learning should motivate us to become the best we can be in the years to come. Please take the time to reach out to your teachers, and thank them for the profound impact they had in all of our lives.

And now, having shown gratitude to those who supported our success, we come to the Class of 2020. 

Like many of you, I recently returned to the high school to drop off my Chromebook and some textbooks. Sitting in the drop off line, I couldn’t help but relive many of my sweetest high school memories. I once again looked upon the student lot with its empty white spots we used to fill with both cars and excited chatter. My eyes wandered through the windows of the cafeteria and past the tables we would share before the first bell as timid underclassmen. I saw the main hall and stairs, now silent save for the memory of laughter. I watched as the cars of my classmates inched forward towards dropoff, just in the same way they used to inch forward in the lunch line. The weight of nostalgia was almost like wearing my backpack again.

It seemed impossible that joy could be found in those dismal circumstances. And yet, in the heart of such melancholy, something miraculous happened. A few sorrowful eyes met again for the first time in months. A few cautious waves and smiles ran through the line. Soon, genuine laughter was spreading.

It seems to me like there is nothing more contagious than positivity. As I sat in my car, I realized I had experienced another miracle during my time at Clarke. As many of you know, I transferred to the High School freshman year. I thought it was going to be impossible to make friends and fit in. However, I was received with what can only be described as a miraculous outpouring of kindness and compassion. I truly cannot thank you all enough for the miracle you all performed for me.

Reminiscing about our time in high school, I started thinking of all the other miracles we’ve already made happen; all of the odds we’ve already beat.  At one point, we’ve all thought something was impossible. Remember trying to pass all those SOLs? Getting IB diplomas? What about winning District Championships? Getting jobs? What about winning state titles or applying to college or even graduating? Think about the most challenging obstacle you’ve faced. Remember how we thought some miracle would have to save us; how we pleaded for a snow day to save us from a hard test? Then remember how we probably were not saved, how we had to face our monsters head on.

But in the end, we’ve all made it, because here’s the secret: miracles don’t happen by chance. Hours of studying, of practice, of hard work enabled us to persevere. We haven’t been lucky all these years to get to this point: we’ve made it happen. Impossible is what we do; we work our own miracles. So hold onto the memories of the hard falls, the late nights, and the grueling practices. Cherish those impossible challenges as they are: the markers of our success. 

Driving off from the high school that last time, I was smiling, knowing just how lucky I was to have been a part of a group of miracle workers. The good news is we are not finished. That’s the thing about miracles, they overcome the impossible.

We may be six feet apart or separated by hundreds of miles, but we will always make extraordinary things happen. 2020 may be a terrible year to some, but to us, it’s just another chance to show off our incredible powers. 

Good luck Class of 2020! You will be successful in all your endeavors.

Clarke County High School Class of 2020

Emmie Jo Aiello

 Jennifer Alfaro

 Wade Clinton Anderson

 Elba Lilian Andrade Zamora

 Bradley Michael Atwell

 Brady Alan Atwell

 Anthony Alexander Avelar

 Grayson Wyatt Aylestock

 Alexander Caesare Bacci

 Madeleine Anne Baldwin

 Santiago Andres Barajas-Castillo

 Nicholas Ivan Beatty

 Joshua Aaron Mejia Beiler

 Karly Alexis Bell

 Taryn Martina Booth

 Gabrielle Brigitte Boukaia

 Emily Sara Bowen

 Elaina Diane Bowman

 Karl C Bue

 Zachary Orion Cahall

 Julia Kathleen Callender

 Collin Reid Carper-Walther

 Kendra Elizabeth Carter

 Rachel M Cascio

 Charles Derek Chapman

 Reena Chasman

 Colby Benjamin Childs

 Liam Micheal Thomas Clarke

 Faith Marie Compton

 Phillipa Lauren Coutts

 Reid Carl Cox

 Katherine Marie Crandall

 Mya Ashanti Creswell

 Mack Thomas Crider

 Jayleen Marie Cruz

 Kellan Jonathan Dalton

 Clara Davidson

 Cody Alexander Davis

 Maeve Elizabeth Davis

 Julia Kristen DiLandro

 Huntley Hope Dillon

 Gabriel A Douglas

 Thomas Anthony Douglas

 Alexis Grace Drosselmeyer

 Jonathan Carlyle Augus Dulaney

 David Alan Dunsmore Jr

 Michael Brian Edwards

 Chloe Mae Eichenlaub

 Terra Lee-Ann Enos

 Volkan Ergen

 Barbara Lynn Fairbanks

 Jessica Lynn Fikac

 Rebecca Marie Forbes

 Madison Paige Fuller

 Joseph Millard Gay

 Jonathan Reece Genda

 Lauren Marie Gibson

 Noah Anthony Gibson

 Llulisa Lisbet Gonzalez

 Jacob William Goode

 Lily Grace Graham

 Erica Christine Grim

 Bradley Christopher Grubb

 Whitney Nichole Grubbs

 Austin Blake Harris

 Hayden Wyatt Hartsell

 Abigail Grace Heavner

 Luke Dawson Hinderer

 Asa James Hinton

 Brady Calvin Holmes

 Alexandra Marie Hooks

 Rebecca Melissa Housey

 Amber Lee Huff

 Briona Alexis Jackson

 Izaac Raijon Jackson

 Reagan Annika Johnson

 Isadora Audra Johnston

 Daniel Stuart Jones

 Wesley Watson Keister

 Mitchell Dale Keplinger

 Dakota Lyle Kimble

 John Carr Kizer

 Joseph Charles LaMalfa

 Rebekah Lynn Langley

 Rhett Kendal Lawson

 Luke Daniel Leso

 Elizabeth Erin Leta

 Jordan Lee Long

 Marina Lynn Longerbeam

 Daniel Francis Lyman

 Bryce James Manahan

 Riley Elizabeth Marasco

 Travis Alan Martin

 Kyren James Martinez

 Mary Drew Mason-Hill

 Brandon James Mayo

 Isobel Sarah McDiarmid

 Jaron Cole McFarland

 Abigail Rain McGillicuddy

 Carol Ann Beatrice Meadows

 Ryan Timothy Miller

 Arianna Jaye Montgomery

 Tayron Konta Neal

 Malika Amber Nedjar

 Brooke Lawson Northcraft

 Melody Autumn Norton

 Anessa Emajin O’Neil

 Aislin Brooke Ogata

 Nicholas Hunter Orndorff

 Raegan Elizabeth Owens

 Elizabeth Anna Pelish

 Mekenzi Holiday Pierce

 Alexandra Holland Pledgie

 Roy Elwood Potts

 Dana Nicole Ramey

 Kiley Marie Ramey

 Odalis Janeth Ramirez-Ruiz

 Christian Xavier Rehe

 Kyle Thomas Reid

 Logan Matthew Reid

 Kevin Resendiz Rojo

 Camryn Dawn Reshetar

 Mackenzie Raine Rice

 Darian Michael Ritter

 Isaac Benjamin Rojas

 McKenzie Marie Ross

 Orie Cole Royston

 Mary Colleen Russman

 William Peyton Rutherford

 Noelia Anahi Sandoval

 Santiago Santos-Ruiz

 Jenna Page Sardelis

 Kathryn Elizabeth Shoemaker

 Austin Charles Silfies

 Charlotte Anne Smith

 Jacob Brady Smith

 Cody Lee Sowers

 Kaitlyn Mae Spitler

 Derek Adam Sprincis

 Autumn Marie Stevenson

 Emma Grace Suling

 Jackson Patrick Taylor

 Nicholas James Testa

 Josiah Ellis Thomas

 Quinton Elijah Thomas

 Kateri Nevaeh Thorne

 Nicholas Tyler Thorne

 Alma Rosa Tolentino

 Angie Elis Torres

 Hannah Kathryn Trenary

 Chloe Elena Unger

 Madison Lorraine Upperman

 Toma Elizabeth Vasilkov

 David Ruben Ventura

 Johnny Ernesto Villacorta

 Mark Gaetano Viti

 Elizabeth Dolores Wallace

 Jacob Allen Weddle

 Madalyn Miller Welch

 Logan Palmer Welfel

 Sara Michelle Wenzel

 Jarrett David Wiley

 Matthew Stephen Williams

 Samuel John Wolfe

 Jackson Cooper Wolford

 Zoe Ann Zimmerman

 Kassidy Vance Zugelder

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.

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