Success abroad, support at home

Published 5:56 pm Saturday, July 18, 2015

Brandeé Johnson, a Nansemond River High School rising senior, has been representing Suffolk and the United States this past week in the ninth International Association of Athletics Federations World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia.

She qualified for the final in the girls’ 400-meter hurdles, which was set to take place Sunday evening.

To reach the finals, she completed the semi-final race in 58.51 seconds, placing first in her heat. Taking first in the other heat was fellow U.S. student-athlete Sydney McLaughlin, a rising junior at Union Catholic Regional High School in New Jersey. She finished with a time of 56.79 seconds.

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Both girls were slightly slower in their opening heats, which they also won, Johnson with a 59.23 time and McLaughlin with a 56.81 time.

In the final, which includes eight qualifiers, Johnson and McLaughlin were set to compete against athletes from Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Jamaica and Sweden.


Supportive football community

The first allegiance of Suffolk’s high school football coaches is obviously to their own team and players, but King’s Fork High School coach Joe Jones illustrated this past week how coaches can ultimately be supportive of all the city’s players.

The July 16 sports page of the Suffolk News-Herald contained a story about Nansemond-Suffolk Academy rising senior linebacker Cole Christiansen, which Jones commented on, noting he was pleased to see Christiansen accumulating college offers.

“I’ve known Cole for a while,” Jones said, having served as his Pop Warner coach for several years.

Jones said he has had a few conversations with NSA coach Lew Johnston about Christiansen and has even gone so far as to help put him on the radar of college recruiters.

“I always try to mention his name to some of the coaches when they come through,” Jones said.


Warnings from the top

The recent Hampton Roads Youth Foundation football camp at Christopher Newport University featured some current and former figures in the NFL as guests who imparted warnings to the high school campers present, including several Suffolk players.

King’s Fork coach Joe Jones, who was an instructor at the camp, praised Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin for being a straight-to-the-point kind of guy and noted that Tomlin talked to campers about social media, encouraging them to exercise discretion in regard to it.

Tomlin addressed how guys are getting in trouble and limiting their opportunities because they do not use good judgment on the Internet, and he said when the Steelers are looking at drafting or signing somebody, they evaluate what that person has said and done online.

Carl Francis, director of communications for the NFL Players Association, said one of the most important topics discussed at the camp was domestic violence, brought up by former Buffalo Bills linebacker Chris Ellis.

Ellis was telling campers how domestic violence is “very rampant right now, and they’ve got to keep their emotions under check, and they have to know how to just leave when they get into an altercation with a young lady,” Francis said.