High school athletes share how they stay at the top of their games

Josie Mallory plays midfield for Monticello High School’s field hockey team, and last year was named to the first team Jefferson District and first team All-Conference 28/29. Photo by Eze Amos Josie Mallory plays midfield for Monticello High School’s field hockey team, and last year was named to the first team Jefferson District and first team All-Conference 28/29. Photo by Eze Amos

High school student-athletes aren’t just working to be the best at their sports; they’re also juggling classes and college applications at the same time. That takes dedication, talent and lucky pre-game meals. We talked with some of the Charlottesville area’s best and brightest student-athletes to get a glimpse of how they do it all.

Josie Mallory

Junior at Monticello High School

Sports: Field hockey (midfield), basketball (point guard), lacrosse (forward) and track (400)

Josie Mallory manages not only to juggle different sports but also excel at them. Last year, she was named to the first team Jefferson District and first team All-Conference 28/29 during the field hockey season, as well as selected for the second team Jefferson District for lacrosse after hitting the 20-goal mark for the season, when Monticello went to its first state tournament. And she did it all while maintaining a 4.2 GPA. This year, she’s looking at a few big showcase tournaments (one in Orlando, one in Richmond) even as she visits college clinics and tackles the SAT.

Mallory’s favorite memory playing field hockey was during a shootout at the end of a match. She was up to score when she heard her sister, Lexi, shout from the sidelines: “Do your move!” With that, “I knew that I was going to make it,” says Mallory. “The goalkeeper was reaching to stop it when it slammed and hit the backboard. At that moment I looked at my sister and smiled so big.”

Pre-match meal: Pasta or sushi

Pre-match rituals: “I listen to music and think of my sister. I think about my sister because she calms me down when I am scared and gives me confidence to play for me and not anyone else.”

Piece of sports memorabilia: Field hockey Coach’s Award

Role model: “My older sister, Lexi.”

Favorite subject: Science

Biggest challenge overcome: “Deciding whether or not I should continue to play multiple sports or specialize. It’s so hard because I enjoy them all.”

Madison Warlick

Senior at Albemarle High School; committed to Randolph-Macon College

Sport: Volleyball (outside hitter/defensive specialist)

Madison Warlick was the MVP for her team in 2016, not only serving as the captain but also leading the team in kills (195), digs (274) and aces (53), as well as with a service percentage of 95.5. That led to quite a few conference invitations, the position of captain for 2017 and a verbal commitment to Randolph-Macon College volleyball for 2018.

Pre-match meal: Turkey avocado sandwich 

Pre-match rituals: “Lots of stretching and music to help me get pumped up.”

Piece of sports memorabilia: Shamrock Volleyball Tournament champion T-shirt

Role model: Cassie Strickland (University of Washington): outside hitter and defensive specialist

Favorite subject: Math

Biggest challenge overcome: “I tore my medial meniscus in April 2016 during my volleyball travel season. I had surgery in early May with six weeks on crutches and a projected five-month recovery. Right now I am doing really well in my recovery and the doctor is expected to clear me to play a month early.”

Emmy Wuensch

Senior at Albemarle High

Sport: Rowing

Emmy Wuensch, Albemarle captain, claimed second place in doubles rowing at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America national rowing competition last year. As she and her partner held up their medals for the celebratory pictures, she glanced over and saw her coach, Cathy Coffman. “I don’t think I had seen her so proud in my whole rowing career,” she says. “I thought, ‘This is why I do this sport.’”

In addition to that second place at nationals, Wuensch also took first place at the state-level competition. This year she looks forward to several more high-profile regattas as well as official college visits and, hopefully, a November signing.

Pre-match meal: Pasta and chicken

Pre-match rituals: “Before we race my coach gives us a pep talk. We have to walk the oars down to the dock, and there are always team members or coaches that help us shove off the docks and tell us to have a good race.”

Piece of sports memorabilia: “I wear a necklace with an oar on it that my mom got me for my birthday after I decided that I definitely love rowing too much to not continue with it after high school.”

Role model: “My role model in my sport is Coach Coffman; she inspires me every day to push harder than I thought possible.”

Favorite subject: “Psychology, medical terminology, anatomy, really anything related to health sciences.”

Favorite moment: “Having to yell at another boat when coming around a sharp turn on a 5K course because the other boat was trying to cut us off and take the inside turn, and I was not going to let that happen. So I yelled, ‘Please. Move. Over!’ as loud as I could, and then because we took the inside turn, we passed three boats and took first place in The Chase regatta on the Occoquan.”

Zack Russell

Senior at Charlottesville High School

Sport: Golf

Named the 2015 district player of the year and three-time winner of the Jefferson District championship, Zack Russell is looking forward to this year’s state championship as well as the Virginia State Golf Association and United States Golf Association qualifiers and tournaments next summer.

Pre-match meal: “Because golf tournaments usually start in the morning, I like to have eggs and cereal as a pre-game meal.”

Pre-match rituals: “I clean my clubs and mark all my golf balls with two dots separated by the logo on my ball.”

Piece of sports memorabilia: 2011 U.S. Open flag signed by the winner, Rory McIlroy

Role model: Jordan Spieth

Favorite subject: Math

Biggest challenge overcome: “Growing, and taking a whole year to grow into my swing.”

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