Lake Ridge freshman sets tone for two programs

Posted Monday, Apr. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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New schools know they will need to build their programs with young talent. And, with Lake Ridge jumping right into the varsity divisions in its first year, its programs knew they’d have to fight through the pains of establishing themselves in an already tough district.

What they are finding, also, are players who will help blaze the trail for future Eagles teams and provide leadership from those that don’t have much experience.

Such an example is freshman Bryn Simmons, who stepped up, and in, to the volleyball and softball programs at Lake Ridge.

Simmons, who started playing softball when she was just 4 and volleyball in seventh grade, has been a pleasant surprise on both the diamond and court.

“We are lucky to have her,” said head softball coach and assistant volleyball coach Cindy Manley. “We’ve needed her on the field and off the field. She’s a good leader.”

Simmons has relied on her own instincts and limited experience on club teams to take up the slack normally provided by seniors. But the Eagles flew without any seniors on the softball team and just one upper classman in volleyball.

“There are others on the team that can help me out,” Simmons said, in addition to serving as a mentor to others on her teams.

Simmons’ father, Amon, said his daughter is appreciative for the opportunity the new school and environment can offer.

“She plays most every position (in softball),” Amon said. “I’ve told her that if you’re blessed to get on the field, that’s where you can play.”

Simmons was primarily used in the outfield, but also played third base and was a utility player as needed for the Eagles.

In volleyball, Simmons said she played as a middle blocker.

Even as a freshman, she’s maintained the determination and competitive spirit possessed since a young player.

“I love the competitive nature of both sports,” Simmons said. “I like both sports about the same. I think having played on some select softball teams has helped me out.”

Hitting .377 this season and posting a fielding percentage of .966, most would agree the experience is paying off for Simmons.

But it can be a mixed bag when helping set the standards on young, struggling teams.

The Eagles finished District 4-15 in seventh place with a district mark of 4-10, 7-25 overall.

In volleyball, though, the Eagles finished fourth in the district and went as far as the regional quarterfinals.

“We had our top 10 players having played some select ball, but the other six had never played before at all,” Manley said.

Amon Simmons said he saw his daughter stay even-keeled in working with her teammates.

“It was a good mix between frustration and patience,” he said. “But it was a good mix. What your team is, your team is.”

Simmons had a favorable feeling coming away from the inaugural seasons, though.

“We accomplished a lot,” Simmons said. “We proved a lot of people wrong.

“I think we can go even farther next year,” she added. “With our chemistry getting better, we can accomplish a lot more.”

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