McGee, Puzey earn top honors

Published 7:09 pm Saturday, July 1, 2017

Nansemond River High School’s Sterling McGee and Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s Emerson Puzey are the Duke Automotive-Suffolk News-Herald Spring Male and Female Players of the Year. These two athletes competed at a high level in their respective sports and represented their schools well.

McGee and Puzey had successful individual seasons this spring, and both athletes’ teams saw a substantial amount of team success, as well.

Both Nansemond River’s boys’ soccer team and NSA’s softball team were knocking at the door of state titles, and both athletes were a big part of that.

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Nansemond River reached the 5A state tournament for the first time in school history while also accumulating the most wins in a season. A big component to it all was McGee, who was a mastermind on the soccer field in his final year of high school soccer.

Though the Warriors were eliminated in the state semifinals, McGee was more than happy to be a part of such a historic season.

“I feel like this season was a success,” he said. “We made history through adversity, and a lot of people thought we couldn’t even make it out of the conference tournament. I felt I helped Suffolk soccer earn respect throughout the 757 and the state.”

Last year, McGee was an all-conference selection. He worked so hard during the offseason that he wanted to help his team become as successful as possible and also win conference Player of the Year. McGee didn’t win Player of the Year but was a first team all-conference, all-region and all-state selection this spring.

McGee knew he was going to have a strong season but was surprised by all the accolades that came with it. As the Warriors got deeper into the season, and he started seeing himself get double- and tripled-teamed, he knew then he was in the midst of something special.

He was the leading scorer on his team for the second year in a row. Warriors coach Dustin Tordoff saw McGee help his teammates get better in the process. For McGee, it wasn’t all about him but also about using his play to help his team.

“I didn’t think I would receive so many awards,” he said. “Being the Suffolk Spring Player of the Year is an amazing accomplishment.”

McGee will now be a part of a new journey as he heads to Syracuse, N.Y. to play college soccer.

NSA’s team success made history while Puzey added to that with individual history. As a pitcher, Puzey went 11-2 from the mound with a 1.91 ERA to go along with 84 strikeouts in 69.1 innings pitched. From the plate, she hit .549 with 41 RBIs, five doubles, six triples and three home runs.

That individual success led to her being named the first NSA softball player to win both TCIS and VISAA Division II State Player of the Year. She also helped NSA to a 22-3 season before they lost in the VISAA Division II state semifinals. Puzey was a unanimous decision on both the All-TCIS and All-State teams.

“It is humbling to know that all of these awards are showing that all my hard work this season is paying off,” she said.

Like McGee, Puzey didn’t expect all these accolades prior to the season. It didn’t take the Lady Saint long to realize she was on the way to having an incredible year. She admits to her junior season being the most successful she has had on the mound pitching and at the plate hitting.

Puzey is currently playing travel ball as she prepares for her forthcoming senior year. With the success she has had as a junior, she doesn’t believe it will put any pressure on her going forward. She has already set goals for herself to come back stronger physically and mentally in her last year. All of her coaches and teammates are excited for what’s to come from Puzey next season.

“I personally love being in a position where the pressure is high,” she said. “It creates a motivation inside that makes me want to lay it all on the line.”

It is almost certain she will receive more college interest as well.