RICHMOND — They jumped from their seats and onto the Hermitage High School turf, making off the for the coach who they can’t help but still adore.
In the minutes after Albemarle clinched its second VHSL Class 5 state championship in three seasons, a handful of Patriots alums stormed the field and surrounded Coach Amy Sherrill, wrapping their arms around her and cheering:
“You did that! You just did that!”
Albemarle entered halftime Saturday trailing Deep Run, 1-0. Sherrill, ever the optimist, urged her players to believe. To push forward. The Patriots took the message to heart and stormed to the 4-1 victory.
“It’s really nice to have a coach that’s so involved,” forward Madeline St. Amand said of Sherrill, who also teaches health and physical education at Albemarle. “She really helps everyone on the team feel really accepted.”
Sherrill has been known to stage impromptu conversations with her players in the halls at Albemarle, and she’s found small ways to connect with the team on deeper levels. She urges each player to come up with a personal handshake to perform with her, which they do after games.
“I saw, I think, a basketball team do it a while back,” Sherrill said. “I just thought that that was something that creates a special relationship with each player. They come up with it on their own. Just, to carry that for four years and beyond is unique for that relationship.”
Sherrill shared the special handshakes with her players Saturday as their names were called during the championship celebration. Among them was forward Kora Jillions. It was Jillions who scored Albemarle’s first goal of the second half, knotting the contest at 1.
“It was a beautiful cross, and I was just lucky enough to get into the goal,” Jillions said.
Midfielder Savannah Alexander scored next, and the Patriots would not trail again. St. Amand scored twice before the final whistle, at which point Albemarle mobbed goalkeeper Jaya Daniel.
Sherrill handed the trophy off to her players, then hung back as they walked over to the scoreboard for a team photo. It was then that she was stormed by the group of Patriots alums, who had smiles on their faces and fond memories in their hearts.
“We’re so lucky to have great alumni,” Sherrill said. “It’s cool that we’re all one family and they believed in us and cheered for us through the thick and thin.”