Witherow: Worlds collide
Published 1:38 am Sunday, May 25, 2014
In a way, senior Brandon Witherow has been a fish out of water at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, but he’s still found a way to swim.
He described himself as the only ice hockey player at the school, but his skills in that sport have translated to lacrosse, and the Saints were never more grateful for that fact than during the last week of this year’s season, when they made a run for the state championship.
Witherow turned in stellar offensive performances throughout the state tournament, leading NSA to its first appearance in the state finals since 2001. His play led to him becoming the Duke Automotive-Suffolk News-Herald Player of the Week.
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“I couldn’t be happier with the week that I had,” he said.
The Saints hosted Virginia Episcopal School in the May 13 state quarterfinals. Nansemond-Suffolk head coach T.W. Johnson expected the Bishops to try to limit senior Jacob Edwards, who had victimized them for five goals and three assists earlier in the season.
The Bishops did just that, but as Witherow noted, the strategy just meant Edwards was able to help other attackers score.
“It really sets the stage for one of us to step up and really take over,” Witherow said, and he did just that, recording five goals and one assist in a 14-5 win.
Junior Whit Riddick was injured in the game and barely played in the May 16 semifinal at Randolph-Macon College against North Cross School. This again put pressure on Edwards, but again, his teammates were there for him, and Witherow registered a hat trick in the 12-10 win.
“You want to see a senior helping carry the team in his senior year in the state playoffs, and that’s what Brandon did for us,” Johnson said.
The coach credited Witherow’s hockey background for his effectiveness in lacrosse.
“I’ve played hockey all my life,” Witherow said.
Around the age of 4, he went skating and then saw the first hockey game that captured his interest. Later, when Witherow was in fifth grade, his father encouraged him and his brother to give lacrosse a try because of a practical concern.
“When you start skating so young, you don’t really develop a good running stride,” Richard Witherow said. Noticing the parallels between ice hockey and lacrosse, he said, “I thought it would be a good fit.”
Johnson said Witherow’s hockey-induced toughness easily helps him weather the contact that he experiences in front of the lacrosse goal.
Hockey also aided his hand-eye coordination, and Witherow said, “Skill-wise, it gives you, basically, quick hands, and that’s really how I score a lot of my goals.”
He recorded another hat trick in the May 17 state championship game, and despite the 12-10 loss to The Covenant School, he said he left the field knowing he had given 100 percent of himself.
He said his parents and their sacrifices regularly motivated that kind of performance.
“I always try and really do my best and just really kind of reward them with a show,” he said.
He will play lacrosse for a club team next year at Old Dominion University.