Seniors

Halifax County High School girls soccer team seniors are (from left) Cassie Snead, Kerrie Reaves, Jamie Shelton, Mandy Lewis, Christina Seamster and Karen Gomez.

A season with high expectations on the field and memories to be made both on and off the field for the Halifax County High School girls soccer team never materialized as their season was canceled before it even got started. The six seniors on the team lost their last chance to play together and try and bring home a championship for the Comets due to COVID-19.

“We (seniors) were hoping to go out with a big bang, and we were trying to make a name for the Comets this year in our last year together,” Jamie Shelton said.

One of the team’s three captains, Kerrie Reaves knew that even with losing several key members last year due to graduation, that with the players returning and the younger ones stepping up that they were going to be pretty good this year.

“This year I felt could have been special with a strong senior group and a well rounded mix of juniors and sophomores,” head coach Bert Cuffley said.

The consensus between all six of the seniors and their coaches was that this season was going to be one they would remember because of the talent on the field, but also because of how close they had grown as a group.

Christina Seamster used a quote that long time head coach for the girls soccer team Sid Young always said, “once a family, always a family.” Seamster said she was upset that the season ended but she was glad for her time together with the team.

So many of the girls on the team began playing the game of soccer not long after they began walking and have been playing ever since. They began playing in the Halifax American Youth Soccer Association (AYSO) and several also played travel soccer for different organizations. Their bonds began to build at a young age and those relationships helped the Comets succeed on the field as well.

When the season came to an abrupt end the seniors on the team went through a wide range of emotions as they tried to comprehend that their high school soccer career was over.

“Some of us are never going to play soccer again, and it is kind of sad because we have been playing together our entire lives,” Shelton said.

Karen Gomez understands why things happened the way they did due to the situation, but she still sees it as unfair because her senior class will not get the things that so many of those before her and probably the ones after her got and will get.

Cassie Snead fought through a lot to be able to compete at the high school level, and now that it is gone she is heartbroken that it is over. “It has been tough for me I have always looked forward to senior year. I always thought about it, and I never thought I would be able to play a sport at the high school level and especially varsity, my senior year,” she said. “It was kind of devastating. We had a really good team, and we were all really close,” she added.

Snead was diagnosed as a child with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which is a disease that causes nerve damage and results in smaller weaker muscles. Snead says that her doctor told her when she was younger that staying active and participating in sports would help in prolonging the symptoms. Snead says that her mom has been her biggest supporter in life and helped push her to stay active.

Another senior who overcame adversity and was looking for a chance to go out strong was captain Mandy Lewis. Lewis tore her ACL during her teams regional tournament game against Orange last season. She was dribbling down the field and went to cross the ball to a teammate when she heard a loud pop and felt excruciating pain.

Coming into this season Lewis had recovered from her injury and had signed her letter of intent to continue to play soccer at the college level with Guilford College. Lewis credits her mom and dad with having a big impact in her life because they have always been her number one fan and helped her become the person she is today. She also said that coach Cuffley has really impacted her life and soccer career. “He has helped me mentally and physically with the game of soccer and has also been there for me through highs and lows,” Lewis said. Lewis recalls Cuffley bringing her food and watching the women’s World Cup games on television while she was recovering from her surgery.

Coach Young who led the Comets girls soccer team for many years before retiring last season had a big impact on many of the seniors as well. “I really miss him (Young). He was one of the most remarkable people I have ever met. He has helped me through a lot, he was always picking up my head when it was low,” Shelton said.

Gomez also praised Young for welcoming her in when she joined the team later than most of the other seniors. Gomez said Young helped her feel like she was a part of the team even though she had just got there.

Seamster said that Young had a big impact not only on her but so many others during his coaching career.

The seniors are hopeful that they will be able to get back on the field again as a team before they all head off to the next chapter in their lives. Whether it is a senior night, or scrimmage it really doesn’t matter to the seniors that lost their final season. “I would love to step back on the field with them,” Reaves said.

Reaves is going to work on getting her dental hygiene degree and furthering her career in the medical field. Shelton is headed to the University of Virginia where she will be a biology major and work on pre med and she hopes to attend medical school after that.

Gomez will be attending Southside Virginia Community College and then will be transferring to a four-year university to major in psychology. Seamster also will be attending SVCC and plans on transferring to Virginia Tech after that.

Snead is deciding between High Point University and Christopher Newport University where she will be a pharmacy major. Snead has finished her pharmacy tech class through Danville Community College while in high school and will be taking the certification test next month.

Cuffley was in his first year coaching the varsity team, but has been with these girls for a while coaching the JV team and playing a big part in coaching and helping with youth soccer.

Cuffley made sure that his players knew how much they meant to him. “My sincerest appreciation to those young ladies whom I had the chance to coach from middle school. Your journey continues as you transition to pursue your dreams. Good luck.”

Johnathan Kirland is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him jkirkland@gazettevirginian.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnathanK_GV