2018 Male Athlete of the Year: Hard work pays off for Stonewall Jackson’s Dotson in senior year

Stonewall's Nick Dotson fires a shot between a pair of Page County defenders in December. Dotson became the fifth player in school history to score 1,000 points, just one of the highlights of his 2017-18 season. Rich Cooley/Daily file

QUICKSBURG – Nick Dotson finally has a break.

The Stonewall Jackson standout put together a strong sports career and capped it off with a great senior season. He said it wasn’t until his baseball season was over in the spring that he realized just how much work he had put into his career.

“Definitely a lot of my hard work paid off,” Dotson said of his senior season. “I think now finally getting a break from sports has kind of help me realize just how hard I really worked. Sometimes when I’m at the house and when I’m kind of sitting around and I’m not really working I’m like I don’t really know what to do. On a normal summer day, I’d surely be out golfing or practicing one of my other sports like baseball or basketball.”

Dotson, The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2018 Male Athlete of the Year, said it was his work ethic that really helped him have the successful senior season that he had.

He stayed busy year-round starting with his golf season. Dotson advanced to the Class 1 state golf tournament, where he finished 11th overall.

Stonewall Jackson's Nick Dotson tees off during the Class 1 golf state championships at Heritage Oaks Golf Course in Harrisonburg on Oct. 9. Dotson finished 11th in the tournament. He also won the Region 1B individual golf title this past season. Rich Cooley/Daily file

He had a number of achievements throughout the season, including winning a pair of Shenandoah District mini-tournaments, the year-end Shenandoah District tournament and averaging 78.4 strokes per 18 holes. However, he said the highlight of his golf season was winning the Region 1B tournament individual title.

“That was something I was a little bit nervous for because I was pretty confident I would make it to states, but I didn’t get (Shenandoah) District Player of the Year,” Dotson said. “And I imagined there would be even better golfers in the region, even though it was (Class) 1A instead of the (Class) 2A competition. But I’m just really thankful to have the opportunity to go out and practice and work as hard and as much as I did. …That was a big achievement for me.”

Dotson said he didn’t get to spend as much time on the golf course over the summer due to the baseball team advancing to the state semifinals in the spring of 2017 and he was a little worried how his game would come together. He said he was very happy with how he played and gave credit to some of his teammates and a few players on Broadway’s team that he played with during the summer for helping him as well.

“I really think (Stonewall Jackson’s) Yash (Desai) and also some of the other kids from Broadway really helped me, because we would get together and go out and we would play,” Dotson said. “And it was good and fun, but it was also competitive. And we were not only trying to improve our own game, but we were trying to go out and beat each other every day. I think without that you get complacent. You don’t really have any extra motivation or extra push to stay that extra hour or work even harder.”

Dotson followed up a successful golf season with a stellar basketball season. He led the area by averaging 22.4 points per game. He also averaged 4.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and an area-best 3.0 steals per game. He also led the area by shooting 80 percent (120-for-150) from the free-throw line. He shot 43.4 percent (186-for-429) from the field and 32.4 percent (46-for-142) from 3-point range.

Stonewall Jackson shortstop Nick Dotson scoops up a late throw on a steal attempt by Central's Jared Rice on April 30. Dotson capped off his strong athletic season with 22 runs scored and 10 RBIs for Stonewall Jackson's baseball team. Rich Cooley/Daily file

He said that a big part of his success came from working with first-year coach Jim Sanders.

“I think it all starts with being lucky enough to have coach Sanders as a coach just because he really helps me and everyone else on the team,” Dotson said. “He just really brought something to the table that we had never experienced before just as far as helping me be a leader He had an impact on us as far as just teaching us about the game. …And I think he really helped me as a player because not only did he give me confidence but he really just put me in a position to succeed as far as plays and sets. And it was clear to me on how I was going to be able to score and kind of allowed me to envision my role more as a scorer.”

Dotson did plenty of scoring for the Generals this past basketball season. Early in the season, Dotson had back-to-back games of 36 or more points. He scored 36 in the fourth game of the season and then followed that up with a 38-point performance against Luray on Dec. 8 in the next game, which broke the single-game scoring record. He scored more than 30 points four times during the season.

The highlight of his basketball season came on Jan. 25 when he became the fifth player in program history to score 1,000 points. He said that it was a great achievement and once he scored 36 and 38 points in back-to-back games he knew it was well within reach.

“Had I not done that I think I would have reached 1,000 points, but it would have been a lot closer,” Dotson said. “And it’s something that I didn’t want to have to worry about. So once I had those two games, especially back-to-back I was like OK, this is possible. I can do this. I just need to stay healthy. I don’t need to be a superstar and have amazing performances where I drop 25 or 30 every night. I just need to play my game, know my role, do what I normally do and that kind of allowed me to kind of have an ease of mind as far as worrying about scoring 1,000 points.”

Dotson finished his career with 1,107 points. The Generals went 8-16 as a team and lost in the first round of regionals, but Dotson said he still felt like the young squad did as well as it could have.

Coming off a really strong junior season in baseball, Dotson said that he knew he would have trouble trying to duplicate that in his senior year.

Dotson was injured in the preseason and got off to a slow start. He finished the year with five doubles, 10 RBIs, 22 runs scored and five stolen bases. Dotson said the Generals had an up and down year as a team as well, but he still enjoyed his time with his teammates.

“I still would say it was a pretty successful baseball season,” Dotson said. “No, I didn’t have a high batting average or get as many awards, but I still enjoyed going out there and being a part of a team for one last season with all my teammates and my buddies and coaches.”

Dotson, who will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall, said he may play club or recreational sports in college, but his academics will come first.

Dotson said that the baseball team advancing to the state finals in his junior season was one of the highlights of his career and something that he and his teammates will never forget. He also said that being a three-sport athlete has taught him a lot about life and what he can achieve on and off the field.

“Whether it’s sports or just life in general if there’s something that I want to achieve, I know that if I set my mind to it and I really become passionate about it and give it my all, that I’ll be successful,” he said. “Or I’ll achieve that goal – and that’s a good feeling to have.”