Berry, Mowry grab top Warrior athletic honors

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 5, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

If you were a teammate of Eric Berry or Ali Mowry, they were your best friends in the entire world. If you had to play against them, you rued the day they were born.

Last fall, Berry gave many an opposing running back a long Friday night with his school-record 146 tackles, which not only helped him grab the Southeastern District Player of the Year honor (his second All-District selection), but also gave Wake Forest all the final proof it needed to award him a full scholarship. Then over the past few months, he was an unwelcome sight for opposing pitchers, who served up another school record of nine homers and a .469 batting average. Needless to say, he found a spot on another First All-District team.

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After bursting onto the softball scene with All-District freshman seasons in field hockey and softball, Mowry’s defensive skills kept her on the top squad for the next three seasons, stopping runs behind the plate and shutting down offenses at the midfield. Her field hockey skills, which put her on the All-Region squad the past two seasons, also won her a scholarship to Radford. Oh, and she also played varsity basketball her freshman year.

Indeed, Berry and Mowry could be one person’s finest pal and another’s worst enemy. But on Thursday night, they received a special thanks from many of their true friends. The two were selected as the top male and female Nansemond River athletes of 2003-04 at the Spring Sports Banquet.

&uot;This sums it all up,&uot; said an emotional Mowry, a mile-wide grin stretching across her face. &uot;This is the best by far.&uot;

Much on the strength of her nearly .500 batting average (which got her the top Offensive player honor), Mowry helped the softball team to its best finish of the millennium, a 15-5 (11-3) record that landed them squarely in second place in the district and snared coach Bryan Maupin his first Coach of the Year award.

&uot;All in all, this was a fantastic year,&uot; said Maupin, whose girls went 8-0 in the second half of the season. &uot;I had a tremendous group of young ladies, and I’m going to miss my seniors.&uot; Besides Mowry, Megan Belch and Ashley Darden also said goodbye to their NR careers.

Belch, who became the first Lady Warrior to hit a ball out of the Nansemond River field this season, joined Mowry on the First All-District team this year, as did Heather Horton and Mindy Byrd, the First team’s only freshman. In a controversial move, pitcher Linley Theroux, who threw in every game and had the district’s best record, was named to &uot;only&uot; the Second team (Darden and Ashley Aston also made All-District honors).

&uot;If not for (Theroux), we wouldn’t have had half the season we did,&uot; Maupin said of his top defensive player. &uot;I never saw her flustered.&uot;

In baseball, Will Hirsch also made the First All-District squad, and Tyren Rivers, Matt Wylie, Chris Topping and Jeremy Riggs made All-District honors. Riggs was selected as the team’s top leader.

Hannah Moyer, who helped the girls soccer team to its second-straight third place finish in the district, was named the team’s Most Valuable Player, and Brittany Compton got the Most Improved award. Katelyn Yandle, who was voted the district’s top rookie, was also elected her team’s best newcomer. In boys competition, Ricky De Triquet got the Most Valuable Player award, and Donald Parrott received the Coach’s Award. Scott Roybal was named the tennis team’s Most Valuable Player, and Tim Dozier the Most Improved.

Eric Joe got the Most Valuable male runner on the track team, Benjamin Staats the Most Dependable Award, and Christopher Robertson the Most Outstanding. Tamea Bynum was the Most Improved female track star, Lauren Ordonio the Most Dedicated, and Raven Starks the Coach’s Award winner.

In drama, Kim Boone received the award for Best Comedic Performance, and Melissa Ann Parden was named the Most Outstanding Senior.

Throughout their careers as Warrior athletes, NR students could look to their coaches for inspiration. They could look to their friends and families. They could glance up on a cafeteria walls and see photo and plaques detailing the accomplishments of athletes past.

Or they could have headed over to Driver Elementary School and watched the Suffolk Intrepids Special Olympics baseball team show the courage and enjoyment that average athletes don’t show often enough. Lou Bagley, who sponsors the team (and the Bagley/Stewart Scholarship, which Mowry and fellow Warrior Hunter South won last month), gave Warrior students an example of the fun that Special Olympians have.

Bagley’s late son David, for whom the scholarship is named, was set to compete in the broad jump in a Special event. &uot;You might think that a good jump would be six or seven feet,&uot; Bagley said. &uot;David walked up to the line, and he got all tensed and tightened up. I think he jumped about six inches.

&uot;That may seem small to you,&uot; Bagley said to the crowd, &uot;but to him, it was a giant leap. We can all draw inspiration from the challenges that Special Olympic athletes meet and the great courage that they show. By drawing inspiration from them, we can all make giant leaps of our own.&uot;

Intrepid players Jaaucklyn Thornton, Spencer Holt and Dante Hall will graduate from NR this year.

&uot;I think Dante has hit a homer in every game he ever played, and he’s been playing for us for years,&uot; Bagley said. &uot;That means he’s hit about 150 homers – quite a feat! Our fences are sort of short, but no matter where we were, he still hit them out every game.

&uot;Some of you might be wondering if he could hit one out of a varsity field,&uot; Bagley said. &uot;I can tell you that if I was pitching, you bet he could!&uot;