Each week, the South Carolina Independent School Athletic Association (SCISA) surveys the entire state of South Carolina and selects three or four statewide Student Athletes of the Week. Once a month SCISA also selects a Sportsperson of the Month. In September, Heathwood was dominant in both categories. Highlanders Flinn Christian (volleyball), Madison Branum (golf), and Maryah Nasir (cross country) were honored as Athletes of the Week on three subsequent weeks, and Cross Country runner Harrison Boorda was named Sportsman of the Month. Days later, volleyball player Jaylen Davis learned that she had been selected as WLTX Player of the Week.
We’re proud that so many Highlanders have recently been singled out for their contributions to their sports and want to celebrate these five standouts and all of our other Heathwood fall athletes!
Flinn is a Captain for our Varsity Volleyball team. She consistently leads by example, but is also a vocal leader expressing praise as well as encouragement and expectations to her teammates. She acts as a communication buffer between her teammates and the coaching staff and Coach Jordan trusts her to be a “coach on the court” when needed. She is not only supportive to her teammates, but she also holds them accountable. Flinn is the true definition of a team captain and leader.
Her devotion to the sport and the hard work it takes to be successful on the court, as well as to her teammates, is inspiring and worthy of commendation. As Coach Jordan puts it, “Flinn is a coach’s dream player and an excellent student of the game. She often brings insightful questions to me after practice and/or a game and she strives to understand and apply the material, not only on the court, but in daily life. Flinn is a frequent contributor and key factor for our success on the court. She has won several awards for Volleyball and is on the right track to play at the collegiate level and also receive a volleyball scholarship when she applies to college next year.”
Flinn plays Outside Hitter and fills a huge role for the team. She is the team’s primary offensive threat and wins a majority of their points. She is also a top defensive player and has been the team’s second leader in defensive plays. SCISAhonored her for having 12 kills, 10 aces, 17 digs and 9 serve receptions in a single match.
The recent awards for senior Jaylen Davis come as no surprise to the Highlander Faithful, who have been treated to watching her exploits since she began competing for the Navy Blue and Green. Davis, who competes for both the Highlander Volleyball and Track & Field teams, has earned All-Region honors in both sports, while serving as one of the tri-captains for the Highlander Volleyball team this fall.
Behind her leadership, the Highlanders have enjoyed one of the best seasons in recent history, and will enter the playoffs with an opportunity to make a deep run. For the first time in years, the Highlander Volleyball team earned a season sweep over archrival Hammond, and has an opportunity to finish the season with a top-2 finish in region play.
In addition to her athletic excellence, Jaylen has served key roles in many other on-campus organizations and community service efforts, as well as being a member of the National Honor Society. Her efforts have earned the respect of her peers, her coaches, the Heathwood community, and the local community, as well, as she has earned Player of the Week honors from SCISA and WLTX News 19, in addition to being voted as the Highlander Homecoming Queen.
A Google search of Heathwood’s Maryah Nasir quickly informs any curious person of the remarkable athletic career the junior has quickly put together. Already one of the most decorated SCISA athletes ever, Nasir owns state titles and records in nearly every distance event, ranging from the SCISA Individual Cross Country title, to the 1600M & 3200M state records. Nasir enters nearly every event across the state as a favorite, and has matched those expectations more times than not. Since her arrival a year ago, Nasir has won over 50% of the races she has competed in, and ranks as one of the top runners (public or private) in the entire state.
What Google may not show however, is the balance she shows with her high performance level away from the track or trail. A top student, Nasir can often be found supporting other Highlander teams, providing a helping hand in community service projects, and even singing the National Anthem at Highlander Football games!
Leadership is defined as the action of leading a group of people or an organization. For a more tangible example however, Heathwood needs to look no further than senior Harrison Boorda. A double-digit time letter-winner, Boorda will graduate this spring with an impressive athletic resume to his name. He has participated with multiple Highlander teams and been an integral part of several championship-level Highlander teams. But lost in the glitz and glamour of his athletic exploits is an even greater young man whose character will leave a lasting impact on the Heathwood community.
In a recent cross country race, the senior team captain found himself battling fatigue, as well as chronic calf pain, in the midst of a race, when even more adversity presented itself to him. An opposing runner from First Baptist suffered an injury and found himself unable to continue the race.
“When I talk to our team about our run, I talk about being a good sportsman. Not about the time, but about running in a way that makes yourself proud with the way you perform. So when the guy went down, it really wasn’t a hard decision. If I’m preaching that, I might as well do it myself.”
Boorda stopped his own race, and focused his efforts on the FBS runner. From providing words of encouragement, to physically carrying the young man, even continuing to walk with the athlete when he felt compelled to try to continue, Harrison provided an example of sportsmanship that inspired not only his other competitors, and coaches from other schools, but the young athletes he calls teammates. Heathwood’s team, ranked as high as #1 in the state, boasts one of the youngest rosters in SCISA. But they surely wouldn’t enjoy the same success were it not for their senior leader, even when injuries keep him from competing.
“We’ve got a couple of high schoolers, but a large deal of middle schoolers. I’ve had to take up more of an assistant coach’s role since my calves have kept me from competing… really just looking after them and trying to instill the same principles in them that I was taught.”
For those who have never competed in the sport, golf can be an incredibly intimidating game. Unlike most team sports, golf teammates do not get the opportunity to share in their competition. Each golfer often has to celebrate individual successes alone, and respond to personal adversity in the same fashion. For Heathwood junior Madison Branum, the celebrations have greatly outweighed the difficulties.
The defending SCISA State Co-Medalist entered the season with high expectations, and Madison has risen to the challenge. Boasting the lowest scoring average in SCISA, Branum has been a medalist in each match she has participated in over the last two seasons, typically near or below par. This fall, she was invited to participate in the prestigious Palmetto Classic, the top event for public and private school golfers from across the state. Branum played some of her top golf to date, earning a top-10 finish against some of the most accomplished team and players from South Carolina.
Her resume, as you might imagine, has generated some top Division 1 collegiate interest, ranging from her ranking on the Hurricane Golf Tour (as high as #3 nationally), 3.1 USGA Handicap, stellar GPA, or 3-time All-Region and All-State seasons. Well-rounded, Branum shares her time as a volunteer, both on and off-campus, and has been a leader in both the girls and boys golf program.