BUFFALO GAP — Britton Malcolm played T-ball then baseball when he was younger, but the sport wasn't fast-moving enough for him. Then, on a trip to Walmart with his family, Malcolm found a lacrosse set.
Eventually that store-bought equipment led Malcolm to the Wolves Lacrosse Club in Stuarts Draft where he played for four years until the spring of 2020 when COVID canceled the season.
The Buffalo Gap student wasn't ready to give up though. His high school didn't have a lacrosse team, so he found a club in Lynchburg that was still playing despite the pandemic and joined that team. It was much more competitive; traveling all over the East Coast to play games against top competition.
"That's probably one of the most competitive, best teams I've ever played for," Malcolm said. "And still to this day I've ever played. I played kids that have committed to Duke, UVA, Maryland (for lacrosse). A kid who committed to West Virginia for football. He was huge."
He might find a higher level of competition next spring after committing to play lacrosse at Randolph College, a Division III school in Lynchburg.
"Coach (Andy) Sinclair has been so nice to me and he's showed me around the campus," Malcolm said. "I've been down to visit three or four times and he's always got me with guys or done this or done that. And he always makes me feel like I'm already a part of the school. And that's a big selling point."
Malcolm believes he's one of the first Augusta County students to play lacrosse in college. Without any high school teams in Augusta County, Malcolm could be correct. Even if he's not the only, he's one of a very select few who have played a sport in college that they didn't play as part of a high school team.
"There's a joke about it (at Buffalo Gap)," Malcolm said. "And it's that I'm the only kid in the area that plays lacrosse and everybody that knows about lacrosse has heard about it from me."
It hasn't been an easy road to get to college. Not only did COVID cancel his lacrosse season locally, forcing him to drive to Lynchburg several times a week to pursue his sport, but around that same time his mom found she had breast cancer.
"It was kind of tough for me, but I'm a really positive person," said Malcolm. "I kind of had that in the back of my mind the whole time. It's just kind of weird playing through that."
Now, he said his mom is doing fine, which has helped to ease his mind as he gets ready to head off to college. Still, knowing that graduation is this Saturday and he'll be finished at Buffalo Gap is a bit emotional.
"It's kind of in between that moment where it's sad, but you're kind of happy to where you get to leave and you get to go experience the rest of your life," he said, "But you also have to remember that you've been in public school for 13 years and all these people that you know you're not going to see them again. Yeah, so it's kind of a sad part too."
Malcolm did play football and basketball for the Bison, but he's now ready to concentrate completely on lacrosse. He'll likely play long stick midfielder, a defensive position usually tasked with playing against the other team's top offensive player. He enjoys that position.
He wants to one day be a teacher and coach and would love to return to Augusta County and help bring lacrosse to some of the high schools.
"I want to come back to this area and coach football or basketball, but also want to try to bring lacrosse," he said. "I'll probably start with like the bigger schools like Wilson and Fort and the 3As and maybe work it down to the 1As (Riverheads and Gap). That's going to take a lot of time."
Along with Malcolm, three other Buffalo Gap senior athletes celebrated their college commitments Thursday, May 12:
Leah Sherrill, Mary Baldwin University, volleyball
Paige Fix, Mary Baldwin University, softball
Blake Argenbright, Mary Baldwin University, baseball
Patrick Hite is The News Leader's education reporter. Story ideas and tips always welcome. Contact Patrick (he/him/his) at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Patrick_Hite. Subscribe to us at newsleader.com.
This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: Buffalo Gap senior excited about challenge of playing lacrosse in college