While state banners are considered the ultimate achievement for high school athletes, they do not always define a season for a high school athlete or local sports fans.
Rivalries, personal achievements and “firsts” can also create lasting memories, and 2015 produced several for the sports community.
WYDaily is reliving a few of those moments, listed in no particular order, below.
State Champions are Crowned
Ten Historic Triangle teams took home state championships in 2015, capping what was ultimately an extremely successful year for local sports.
The action started in February when Jamestown’s girls swim team and Grafton’s boys swim team each took home Group 4A state championships. Jamestown’s championship marked its second in as many years. Additionally, Hampton Roads Academy’s boys and girls swim teams each took home VISAA Division II swimming championships for the fourth consecutive year.
The spring proved the most successful for Historic Triangle teams, starting with local domination of outdoor track and field. Walsingham Academy’s girls team took home a VISAA Division II state title, while Lafayette’s girls team won the VHSL Group 3A State Outdoor Track and Field championship.
Lafayette took home more hardware in the spring as its baseball team defeated Loudoun Valley 5-4 in the VHSL Group 3A Baseball Championships. The state title marked the first for Lafayette’s baseball program. While Lafayette was winning its first baseball state title, Jamestown’s boys soccer team was busy winning its third state championship in eight seasons, defeating Hanover 3-0.
The state titles kept coming in the fall as Warhill’s volleyball team claimed its second consecutive state championship after topping Hidden Valley 25-15, 25-19, 25-22. Additionally, Tabb’s field hockey team won its second consecutive state championship after beating James Monroe 1-0, marking the program’s sixth state title in the last eight seasons.
Macy Causey Makes Racing History at Langley Speedway
Macy Causey, a 14-year-old freshman at York High School, became the youngest female to race at Langley Speedway on April 4.
Causey competed in the Late Model Division at Langley Speedway in the Pocomo Auto Group 100, completing 94 of 100 scheduled laps and finishing 13th out of 18 racers.
Throughout the year, Causey fought through crashes and continued to improve while becoming more accustomed racing at speeds nearing 100 mph. In August, Causey earned her first top-five finish at Langley Speedway and earned Langley’s Rookie of the Year honor.
In October, Causey once again made history as she became the youngest driver to compete in NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Combine at Langley Speedway.
NFL Running Back Lorenzo Taliaferro has Jersey Retired at Bruton
Bruton alumnus and Baltimore Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro returned to his former stomping grounds to have his high school football jersey retired in February.
While back at Bruton, Taliaferro was bombarded by old acquaintances, coaches, teachers, students and Baltimore Ravens fans.
Taliaferro, who rushed for 1,678 yards and 21 touchdowns at Bruton, helped lead the Panthers to a 2009 appearance in the state championship game. He went on to play for Coastal Carolina University in college and was drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
WAC Firing of Harold Baker Sparks Community Backlash, Club Overhaul
The Williamsburg Aquatic Club Board of Directors made the controversial decision to terminate the employment of Coach Harold Baker, who founded the club in 1979, on July 28.
Baker’s firing sparked rallies, petitions and significant public backlash as the club’s Board of Directors moved forward with the hiring of a new coaching staff roughly two weeks after Baker’s termination.
After weeks of negotiations and legal threats, WAC members came together and voted to dissolve the embattled Board of Directors. After declaring the members’ vote invalid, the Board of Directors eventually caved and stepped down from their positions just over a week later.
Baker was later reinstated as the WAC Head Coach and a new swim club, 757Swim, was created by the former Board of Directors members.
New Faces and New Places
Some longtime coaches and athletic directors stepped down this year, while new coaches entered the fold to fill those positions.
York Baseball Coach Rusty Ingram retired after 34 years of coaching, Jamestown Athletic Director Don Samuels retired after five years of service at the school, Lafayette Girls Basketball Coach Chris Brown took a new job as the Athletic Director of Williamsburg Christian Academy, Jamestown Baseball Coach Mike Kuebler stepped down after eight season and WCA Girls Basketball Coach Donovan Bridgeforth left to become the Boys Basketball Head Coach at Jamestown.
Other Notable Moments
- Lafayette pole vaulter Kathyrn Tomczak became an All-American after finishing sixth in the New Balance Nationals Indoor in March.
- LPGA rookie Minjee Lee, 18, earned her first tour win in May when she took first place in the Kingsmill Championship with a final score of 15-under par.
- Grafton High School built a new baseball press box in the memory of late baseball coach Henry Connell, who founded Grafton’s junior varsity baseball team.
- Bruton softball coach Danny Williams died of cancer months after Bruton assistant football coach Kevin Brooks passed away unexpectedly.
- Jamestown sophomore Alexa Halko, a world-class wheelchair racer, has her eyes set on competing in the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
- William & Mary professor Michael Nichols took home a powerlifting world championship at 70 years old.