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Athlete of the Week: Billy Shaffer

(Editor's note: Throughout the local high school sports season, Culpeper Times will again recognize an “Athlete of the Week” from one of the sports on a rotating basis. This week we feature boys swimming. At the end of the year the Times will select a male and female athlete at both Culpeper County and Eastern View high schools and recognize them as “Athlete of the Year” at their respective schools.)

Culpeper County High School swimming coach Dave Hodgson began working on Billy Shaffer to become a member of the team when Shaffer was in seventh grade.

However, it took a couple of trouts to finally get Shaffer in the water.

“Coach Hodgson kept nagging me,” Shaffer recalled. “But last year assistant coach (John) Trout's daughter, Kendall (also on the team), talked to me more about it and I finally gave in and went out.”

Shaffer admitted that Trout might have had a strong influence on him because the two are dating.

“I really love anything that has to do with water,” Shaffer said. “I like to fish and my dad and I kid about it because we do a lot of trout fishing. I love being outdoors.”

“I knew back in seventh grade Billy was destined for greatness,” said Hodgson. “He was on the A squad, taking advanced classes. He is very smart and witty, but not a hotshot or always trying to show off.

“He is one of those students who would come back to visit me after he moved on to high school. He's the kind of kid who you are interested to see what happens with them.”

Hodgson said that once Shaffer joined the team he took to swimming “like a fish to water,” no pun intended.

“He takes athletic discipline to a new level,” Hodgson said. “He really focuses. Even if he is not feeling well he still comes to practice. If he can't make it, I'll hear from him. He's the kind of swimmer you want on the team.”

Shaffer said last year he swam the freestyle sprints, but this year he has moved up to longer distances. In his last meet against Chancellor High School he helped the Blue Devil boys to a 143-117 win with a third place finish in the 500 freestyle.

“We lost all of our male distance swimmers from last year so I've been swimming the 500,” he said. “Coach thought that being a cross country runner and a soccer player that I would have the endurance for the longer races.”

Shaffer said he has no concrete plans yet on where he will attend college, but he is hoping to attend a three-week program at the University of Miami this summer where he can earn college credits.

“Whatever I wind up doing I want to help people,” Shaffer said. “That makes me the happiest. My counselor suggested social work so maybe I'll go into that.”

NOTE: Eastern View High School coach Melissa Garcia nominated freshman Jose Gil.

“Jose is a dedicated athlete, an excellent student and a loyal teammate,” Garcia said via e-mail. “He has amazing potential in the pool and he is only a freshman.

“I look forward to seeing him make states in the near future.”

Gil said swimming is a family affair.

“My brother started doing it and I went to all his meets,” he said. “I started liking it and so I tried it.”

Gill said he used to play soccer, but now he concentrates on his aquatic endeavors. He is still working on perfecting his strokes.
“Butterfly is my favorite,” he said. “I like the challenge of trying to swim it well. The hardest stroke for me is the breaststroke. I'm not very good at it.”

Gil said math is his favorite classroom discipline.

“I want to go on to college and become an architect,” he said.

Between swimming and studies, Gil said he doesn't have much time for some of the activities he used to enjoy.

“I just try to stay active,” he said. “I used to skateboard a lot, but I had to give it up. I just don't have time for it.”

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