STUARTS DRAFT – Jillian Lewis loves to ride horses and care for them.
That’s what the Stuarts Draft senior does in her spare moments.
Currently, basketball and soccer occupy a lot of her time athletically, while a challenging academic schedule also requires her attention.
Lewis is good at both, and for her accomplishments, Stuarts Draft has selected her as its winter nominee for the City/County Student-Athlete of the Year Award, sponsored by Elliott Chevrolet and The News Leader.
Academically, Lewis holds a 3.0 grade point average. Her favorite subject is mathematics.
“It has always come pretty easy to me,” she said.
“Science is probably hardest to understand,” she said. “Physics is tough along with chemistry, but we have really great teachers who make it come easy to us.”
Lewis is involved in numerous extracurricular activities, including FCCLA (Family, Community and Career Leaders of America) and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions).
She was a member of the homecoming court both as a freshman and junior.
Outside school, she is a member of Young Life and plays travel team soccer. In the summer she works at the Cambridge Learning Center in Stuarts Draft. She also has a job at Buffalo Wild Wings in Waynesboro.
When there is time, she loves horseback riding, following in the footsteps of her sister who started riding when the family lived in Seattle.
“When we moved here, I was too young. I started lessons when I was about eight years old,” she said. “It’s fun and different. I care for them, and you build a bond with the horses.”
Lewis plans to attend Blue Ridge Community College for two years, then transfer to Roanoke College and enter its dentistry program. She would like to be a dental hygienist.
Cougar head basketball coach James Carter has high praise for his senior leader.
“She is by far one of our most versatile players,” he said. “She’s such a great kid. She’s never to high, or too low with her emotions.”
Lewis loves the team aspects of the sports she plays — basketball and soccer.
“I get to work with individuals,” she said. “All our talents come together and we make for a really good sport. My favorite used to be soccer, but the last two years, I like both of the sports equally.”
Lewis started playing basketball in fourth grade in the youth leagues. She played jayvee ball as an eighth-grader, and moved to the Stuarts Draft varsity as a sophomore.
On the floor, she is a versatile player who can handle the point as well as the post.
“I used to not dribble the ball quite as well as I wanted,” she said. “When I moved up to the jayvees as a point guard, it forced me to be a better dribbler. Now I play point to post.
“As a point guard, I like setting up the plays and doing the right stuff. But it is a lot of pressure,” she said. “I am also built where I can play the post. You have to be strong down there. You have a lot of bodies on you and have to post up.”
Lettering twice in basketball, it will be four times in soccer by the end of the school year.
That’s a sport she started as a 5-year-old, honing her skills as a youth in the AYSO program. By the seventh grade, she was involved in travel league soccer, and is still in it.
For the Cougars, she played jayvees as an eighth grader, moving to the varsity in the ninth grade.
“I’m mostly just a striker,” she said. “I played with my sister Mayzie (who currently plays for Mary Baldwin College). On offense, I don’t think I am selfish with the ball. One of my strong points is that I pass well.”
Lewis said one of her favorite shots is a header.
“They are always fun to finish,” she said. “It gets very exciting when it goes in.”
Lewis has been recognized for her accomplishments. She was selected all-district, all-region and second team all-state as a sophomore.
As a junior she was first-team all-district, and the league’s player of the year.
More honors probably will come this spring.
“She has been a great competitor and a staple for us for the last two years on both varsity teams,” Stuarts Draft AD Steve Hartley said. “She’s very much a leader in both basketball and soccer.”
Each public high school from Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro selects fall, winter and spring nominees, then selects one finalist. One finalist will also be chosen from nominees made by area private schools. Tuesday: Seth Long, Buffalo Gap