NSA recognized for sportsmanship

Published 10:15 pm Friday, October 27, 2017

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s boys’ soccer team received the Betty Jean Riddick Sportsmanship Award and also placed two players on the all-conference team.

NSA’s season came to an end Tuesday after a 6-0 loss to Norfolk Academy in the first round of the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools tournament. The Saints finished the season with a 5-9-1 record but also got recognized for their efforts this season.

The Saints received the Betty Jean Riddick Sportsmanship award for the fourth time in the last five years. The award acknowledges the sportsmanship the Saints displayed in competition. It is an award that coach Patrick Whelan is proud to be recognized for.

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“It is all about the players,” Whelan said. “Our team from the bottom up, top down and middle out is made up of young men of the highest caliber. I learned something from each of them this season, and I learned a lot from them collectively. You won’t find fiercer competitors than the likes of Christian Berner, Luke Jackson or Brett Hogan, yet you won’t find better people than those three either.”

Everyone on the roster played hard every single match, but everyone was also the first to help someone off the ground and shake their opponent’s hands. It is the ultimate sign of respect to their opponent, no matter whom they were playing or how the game was going.

“I believe the coaches of the TCIS recognized that our players play the right way,” Whelan said. “I am very proud that our team was recognized with the Betty Jean Riddick Sportsmanship Award. Of the four years, a team of mine has been awarded the accolade; this one means the most to me.”

NSA also had two representatives on the all-conference teams. Senior Owen Firnstahl was selected first team all-conference, while senior Evan Sciacchitano was selected to the second team. Both players were captains of the team this year. Whelan described them as being great young men and true leaders of the team this season.

While NSA missed out on their ultimate goal of achieving a state championship, Whelan believes the season was still a success.

“To me, high school sports are more about developing a strong work ethic and honing the right kind of attitude in student-athletes to give it their all no matter the circumstances,” Whelan said. “Using those criteria to gauge this season, I will mark it down as a win. I already cannot wait for August to roll around.”