December 17, 2008
By David Driver
For the Stafford County Sun
Used with permission
You will not find too many college basketball players who are co-captains as a sophomore. But Christopher Newport University has two of them and one is Jessica Moore of Stafford.
“It is going to be interesting to see how we do,” Moore said. “I like being a leader. It is a lot of pressure but the team listens. I try to be a vocal leader. I am not one to get in someone’s face.”
The circumstances pretty much dictated that arrangement this year as the Division III team from southeast Virginia lost three senior starters from last year’s squad. And this season the team has no seniors and just two juniors, neither of whom were with the team last year in Newport News.
Stafford High graduate Moore is a starting forward and shares the leadership role with Chelsie Schweers, who was the top player in the conference last season as a freshman. She scored 35 points in a game earlier this season and averaged 21.6 points per game last year.
“We balance each other well,” Moore said. “She leads more by example and I am more vocal.”
Moore averaged 7.3 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game in the first three contests for the Captains of Christopher Newport, who were 3-0 after a win at home Dec. 3 against Trinity of Washington, D.C.
Moore is not the only college player from Stafford with a Division III women’s basketball team in that region of the state.
Bryttani Payton (North Stafford) is a senior guard for Virginia Wesleyan College, which does not play in the same conference as CNU. She is a double major in biology and philosophy and hopes to attend medical school next year.
“She is really a leader for us this year,” Virginia Wesleyan head coach Stephany Dunmyer said of Payton. “She is our first guard off the bench. She provides us with a great defensive spark off the bench. She does a great job of getting to the basket.”
The Captains of Norfolk, who are in the USA South Athletic Conference, play at Virginia Wesleyan on Dec. 15. Virginia Wesleyan, which won its first three games, is a member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. “We always play them tough. It is going to be a good game. They beat us last year. We are both very competitive teams,” Payton said.
Payton had five points, one assist, two steals and three rebounds in 15 minutes of play in a win against Salisbury on Nov. 19 and six points and six rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench in a win against Randolph-Macon on Nov. 25. She had two points and two assists Dec. 4 in a win over Piedmont of Georgia.
“Starting is not a big deal for me,” said Payton, who moved with her family from Long Island to Stafford prior to her junior year of high school. “I am more of a team player. I like coming off the bench.”
Both of their coaches have major-college experience. Dunmyer was an assistant coach at Indiana State in 2002-03 when the team won the Missouri Valley Conference title and played in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.
Christopher Newport head coach Carolyn Hunter is a former interim head coach at Hampton University and has been in her current role since 1998.
“She is a good coach. She knows a lot,” Moore said. “She keeps the same tone the whole time. She will not yell at you.”
Moore began youth league basketball in Stafford County when she was 5. She also played soccer and was a swimmer in summer leagues for several years and also played field hockey and softball in high school.
She received some attention from college coaches for field hockey but opted for hoops. “I just like basketball more,” she said.
Moore looked into the basketball programs at Shenandoah, Marymount and Mary Washington in Virginia and also at Dickinson in Carlisle, Pa. But she opted for Virginia Wesleyan.
“None of the other schools compared to Christopher Newport,” Moore said. “The campus was so much nicer. It was above the rest. It felt like a good fit for me.”
Moore averaged 10.6 points and 6.6 rebounds last season as a freshman. Her team can expect more out of her this season.
“Our offense this year is geared to the perimeter,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of tall players. We try to look for the open shot. We like to run the ball.”
Notes: Christopher Newport plays in a tournament at Marymount in Arlington on Jan. 3-4 and Moore expects to have family on hand … Christopher Newport played a pre-season game at Mary Washington in Fredericksburg.