Warriors athletes say goodbye to school year, each other

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 6, 2005

How could the biggest appreciation ovation at a high school spring sports banquet come for someone who didn’t even play that year? A person who never swings a golf club, field hockey stick or baseball bat, who never puts on a pair of shin guards or cleats, who never scores a goal, a run or a hole-in-one, and they still get center stage at a banquet, hearing the cheers of their teammates, classmates, family, and the rest of a packed auditorium?

It’s simple; the person on the receiving end of the recognition took on- and is now beating – an opponent tougher than any they could meet on the high school fields of battle.

&uot;She was a role model,&uot; girls soccer coach Daryl Yandle said to the crowd Thursday night at Nansemond River High’s spring sports banquet. &uot;She was an honorary manager, but more than that, she was an inspiration for our team. Her strength inspired us all.&uot;

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He was referring to Britanie Pelletier, robbed of her senior year minding goal for the team by a brain tumor. As Yandle handed Pelletier her three-year letterman trophy, the crowd and the rest of the team erupted into a standing ovation.

&uot;I was shocked,&uot; said Pelletier, who will finish her current (and hopefully last) bout of chemotherapy this summer. &uot;There was no need for everyone to stand up. I almost cried, but I held it back.&uot;

Natalie Sims, who lettered in softball, track, cheerleading and field hockey, was named the female athlete of the year, and Ben Staats, who made All-Region three times and All-State once running the 800-meter dash for the track team, got the male honor. Sims will head to Virginia Tech; Staats to James Madison University.

Staats also got the Most Valuable Player on the track team, with Malik McBride getting the Most Outstanding Runner and Louis Delk the top newcomer. Kristen Dotson was Most Spirited on the girls team, with Vauchona Burrell the Most Improved and Britney Pulliam, who made it to regionals in the high jump, the Best All-Around.

Pelletier’s teammate Hannah Moyer was the Most Valuable Player, and Nikki Riddick the top Team Player. Donald Parrott was the male Most Valuable Player, and Greg Allen got the Coach’s Award. The boys team went perfect in Suffolk and defeated Great Bridge for the first time of the millennium last year, and the girls made it to the Southeastern District playoffs for the second time in three years.

River’s diamond squads were even more successful, as the boys made it to regional competition for the first time since entering AAA ball in 1997 and the girls made it to the district tournament for the second straight year. Will Hirsch and Tyren Rivers were co-baseball Most Valuable Players and Lindly Theroux and Kelsei Saunders were named the top Defensive and Offensive stars from the softball team. Theroux pitched for 14 wins and 160 strikeouts, and Saunders hit a school-record five home runs and team-leading 23 RBIs.

In tennis, Sal-ome Randolph and Andre Riddick were the respective Most Valuable Players, with Michelle Livingston and Taylor Elder. Kim Boone and Josh Tarwater were named the top two actors from the drama club.