Athletics programs humming through summer

Rising senior Lauren Settle. Photo by Megan Lee.

Summertime is not down time for RCHS athletics. Coaches are still training, and athletes are still collecting awards.

In the days after the school year ended, two varsity girls’ softball players received great news. Lauren Settle and Allie Dore earned spots on the All Region B Honorable Mention team. The team consists of three levels: first, second, and honorable mention. It is selected by the coaches whose teams have made the regional tournament.

Lauren Settle was surprised and overjoyed with the announcement: “I felt so surprised when I found it. I was like, ‘ME?!’ I love the game of softball, and this just made me realize that hard work actually does pay off.”

Coach Jamie Harris expresed his pride: “This was a big boost to our softball program to have two players pick up honorable mention accolades, and it’s another big step forward for the Panther softball program.”

Allie Dore wasn’t available for comment, but she would likely agree with Settle crediting their coaches:

“Thanks to all three of my coaches for pushing me harder and harder at every practice. And for picking my head up when I made an error in the field or couldn’t make anything happen at the plate,” Settle said.

Allie Dore. Photo by Megan Lee.

Harris said: “For Lauren it should serve as motivation to work even harder and to try and make the first team and have a chance at All State honors as a rising senior.”

Settle commented: “I think our team will be ready for all competition next year. We’re going to make it to the regional tournament by leaving no doubt!”

Off the softball field, a few RCHS coaches are motivating athletes in the weight room with the Bigger, Faster, Stronger (BFS) program. Coach Scott Stephens, Coach Rich Hogan, and athletic director Jamie Harris have been at BFS Monday through Thursday with the girls lifting from 4 to 6 p.m. and boys lifting from 6 to 8 p.m. This program is designed to build better athletes.

“One way or another we are going to drill the point home that for Rapp to get to the next levels of competition, we have to dedicate ourselves to the weight room,” Harris said. “We want athletes who are willing to work hard to improve.”

In addition to coaching wrestling next year, Harris’ new athletic director duties are keeping him busy. “I have pretty much been working on things since I inked the contract: upgrading and fixing our schedules, reaching out and strengthening relationships with the surrounding schools, helping administration with interviews for coaching vacancies. I have a big spring bash planned for our baseball, softball, and soccer programs. The wrestling program will be hosting two huge tournaments, so that is exciting as well.”

Harris said that he wants to be able to focus his efforts on assisting the coaching staffs of all school sports in ways to improve and compete.

Beyond the planning, Harris believes that RCHS has “a lot of work to do to get the attitudes of students, staff, coaches,and the community changed to be more dedicated and spirited. The losing mentality stops and we can stop it now. I am a strong believer that if we build it, they will come. Those who disagree . . . Well, I will have to work harder to convince them that changes can be made here. We want to hang championship banners in our gym.”

Harris made this appeal: “Community, we need your help and support as we take our athletic programs into a new direction. Together we can make Rappahannock athletics better than it ever has been. For those that left for other schools, it is time for you to come back home and finish your careers as a Panther. We are Rappahannock, and we are the Panther Nation!”