Although Nathan English's memories of his father are limited, the Olentangy High School senior feels like Shawn English is watching over him at every moment.
That feels especially true as Nathan's career with the boys lacrosse team winds down.Video •Watch an interview with Olentangy boys lacrosse player Nathan English.
The senior class' gift to the program was an 8-foot-by-10-foot U.S. flag in memory of Shawn English, an Army captain who was killed in action Dec. 3, 2006, in Iraq. Nathan was 7 at the time.
"It kind of gives me a feeling of self-confidence to go out there and know he is always with me no matter what I do," said English, a long-stick midfielder who has overcome various injuries throughout his career and is in his only year as a starter for the Braves. "Whenever I get upset or down on myself in a game, I just look up there and look to my teammates and remember he's always there. My teammates always have my back, like I know he would."
English presented the idea to his classmates before the season. The team raised about $200 in donations for English's mother, Tricia, to buy the flag, and it was formally presented during senior night activities April 27.
"It was a great idea," senior attacker Patrick Grubb said. "We were all for it."
The flag is slightly larger than the one that previously flew during non-football events.
English, who took up lacrosse in the fifth grade, vividly remembers accompanying his father to work when he was commander of the U.S. Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City Beach, Florida.
"All the cadets would stop and salute my dad. It was really cool to see that," English said. "He was gone a lot when I was little, maybe anywhere from three weeks to eight months (at a time). It was hard, but it was our life and I didn't know anything different."
Shawn English, who grew up in New Albany, was killed when an Iraqi insurgent detonated a roadside bomb, exploding the vehicle in which he was escorting an Iraqi general.
The senior class dedicated the flag thusly:
"The OHS senior lacrosse boys dedicate this flag in memory of CPT Shawn English, and to remind all that play in Braves Stadium of those that protect and defend our freedoms, including the ability to play games such as this."
English played lacrosse at St. Charles as a freshman then returned to Olentangy as a sophomore before battling right knee injuries for much of the next two years. He underwent reconstructive knee surgery in October 2015 and sat out his junior season.
English still wears a brace on his right knee.
"The timing never worked out to where he was healthy in the spring," coach Zach Peterson said. "He adds a spark just because his personality is very Type A. He's exciting and he plays with emotion and passion. It's fun to have a kid like that in the locker room."
Olentangy finished the regular season at 12-5.
Seeded second in the Division I, Region 1 tournament, the Braves played host to 13th-seeded Wadsworth in a first-round game May 17. The winner plays host to seventh-seeded Whitehouse Anthony Wayne or eighth-seeded Strongsville in a quarterfinal Saturday, May 20, and that winner advances to a regional semifinal Wednesday, May 24, at home against third-seeded Orange, sixth-seeded Perrysburg, ninth-seeded Westlake or 12th-seeded Brunswick.
That semifinal winner advances to a regional final May 27.
The Braves defeated Perrysburg 19-5 in their season opener March 18 and lost to Orange 9-7 on April 13.
Track teams perform
well in league meet
The boys and girls track and field teams combined for eight runner-up finishes in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet that concluded May 13 at Orange.
The boys finished third (84 points) behind Orange (187) and Westerville South (117) and ahead of Liberty (69), Westerville Central (42) and Westerville North (20). Kyle Brookshire was second in the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches) and pole vault (13-6), Matt Gray was second in the discus (131-11) and Anthony Sasso was runner-up in the 1,600 meters (4 minute, 26.08 seconds) -- one spot ahead of teammate Zach Balthaser (4:29.67).
Also finishing second were the 1,600 relay (3:26.27) and 3,200 relay (8:01.25).
The girls tied North for fifth (40) behind Orange (155.66), Central (132.33), Liberty (96) and South (59).
Holly Nation was second in the high jump (5-0) and third in the 400 (59.56). In the pole vault, Siobhan Szerencsits was second and Madeline Barnes third as both vaulted 13-0.
Olentangy began the Division I, district 2 meet at Hilliard Darby earlier this week. Field events were May 16, followed by preliminaries for the running events May 17 and running finals Saturday, May 20.
The top four finishers in each event advances to the regional meet Wednesday, May 24, and May 26 at Pickerington North. At regional, the top four finishers in each event advance to state June 2 and 3 at Ohio State.
Girls lacrosse team
The girls lacrosse team played OCC-Buckeye rival North on May 16 in the first round of the Division I, Region 1 tournament, and coach Amy McCormick was pleased with the Braves' draw despite a postseason road full of potential rematches from the regular season.
Fourth-seeded Olentangy finished the regular season at 12-5 with a 14-13 win over Hartley on May 12.
"I thought we had a chance at the third seed but that didn't happen, which is fine," McCormick said. "The tournament is just a different animal. Even if you've seen a team, you have to play them like you've never played them before. We can't get ahead of ourselves."
North was seeded 12th.
The winner visits third-seeded Medina or 13th-seeded Anthony Wayne for a regional quarterfinal Friday, May 19. That winner plays host to a regional semifinal against second-seeded Liberty, fifth-seeded Orange, 10th-seeded Toledo Notre Dame Academy or 14th-seeded Delaware on Tuesday, May 23, and the semifinal winner advances to a regional final May 27.
Olentangy defeated Orange 20-13 on April 13 and lost to Liberty 23-13 on May 2.
Brdicka leads tennis
team to district
Stu Brdicka of the boys tennis team won a Division I sectional championship May 13 at Upper Arlington, leading four Braves into the district tournament Thursday, May 18, at Hilliard Davidson and Saturday, May 20, at UA.
Brdicka defeated Coffman's Bryan Yoshino 6-1, 6-3 in the final. Teammate Alex Konstan was third in singles, and the doubles team of Pradhit Gosula and Alex Ulry finished third.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district.
Also at sectional, Ayush Sunkad went 1-1 in singles and the team of Abbas Doctor and Nishant Medicharla went 1-1 in doubles.
At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to state May 26 and 27 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
advances in tourney
The baseball team entered the week within two wins of its second consecutive Division I district championship before playing Mount Vernon in a semifinal May 16.
Third-seeded Olentangy began the postseason May 10 with a 5-0 win over visiting and 32nd-seeded Delaware in a first-round game. Cameron Kaiser pitched a two-hitter with eight strikeouts, and the Braves scored all of their runs in the final three innings. Caden Kaiser was 4-for-4 with two RBI, and Jake McIntyre was 3-for-3 with two RBI.
The Braves were 20-4 overall before playing Mount Vernon and finished 12-3 in the OCC-Buckeye after a 4-2 loss to Liberty on May 13.
The Olentangy-Mount Vernon winner plays seventh-seeded Gahanna or 15th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in a district final Thursday, May 18, at a neutral site to be determined. The Braves have not played either team this year.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal May 25 at Dublin Coffman.
Boys volleyball team
rolls toward tourney
The boys volleyball team surpassed its win total from last year when it swept through a quad May 13 at Pickerington Central.
Olentangy defeated the host Tigers 25-16, 24-26, 25-11, Mount Vernon 25-15, 25-21 and North 25-20, 25-22 to improve to 20-3.
Seeded third in the 18-team Division I East Region tournament, the Braves will play host to 13th-seeded UA in a first-round game Saturday, May 20. The winner will play ninth-seeded Pickerington North, 11th-seeded Bradley or 14th-seeded Westerville Central in a regional semifinal Tuesday, May 23, at Westerville South, and that winner will advance to a regional final May 27.
Olentangy went 2-0 against Central in the OCC-Buckeye, winning 25-15, 25-15, 25-6 on April 11 and 22-25, 25-17, 25-17, 28-26 on April 27, and defeated North 25-15, 25-21, 25-22 on May 10.
Lopsided win caps
Despite losing 6-1 to visiting Delaware in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 10, the softball team still finished with a win when it routed Orange 13-0 in five innings May 11.
The game against Orange was a makeup from May 5.
Olentangy finished 14-10 overall and 7-3 in the OCC-Buckeye, second behind Central (10-0) and ahead of North (5-5), Liberty (4-6), Orange (3-7) and South (1-9).
The Braves were seeded 17th in the 45-team district tournament. Delaware was 18th.
Olentangy loses four starters to graduation in Kristen Bartel (C), Sydney Hall (OF), Emma Spinner (OF) and Sydney Wagner (SS) but expects to return its top two pitchers in junior Sophie Low and freshman Payton Cox as well as junior outfielder Morgan Cox and freshman utility player Kirsten Kracht.