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PotomacLifestyle.com

FEBRUARY 2020

PUBLIC AND

THE MAKERS EDITION

PRIVATE SCHOOL TALENTED MAKERS

ROMANCE AT TIDEWATER INN

THE FIREBIRDS TRACK CLUB 30 YEARS OF SUCCESS

US ARMY CALL TO SERVE


The Lahey Group

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Congrats to our VIP sellers for getting top dollar for their home! highest price per sq/ft in over a year in their condo!

Congrats Kelly and Young! Glad we can help you get your home sold! "Our home was under contract after only 5 days on the market!

Today, our VIP client is a couple of friends of mine! I’m super grateful that we get to serve them and be a part of their real estate story!

So happy for our VIP Clients and #amazing friends, Chris and Amber! Thank you for trusting our real estate team to help you find your new #home!

Congrats Jonathan and Martha! Hope you love your new #home! Glad that our proven home selling system got you $15k over

Congrats to our VIP client and friend Kunal on becoming a new #homeowner! So glad to help him get an amazing deal! 43k below market value!! Wow.

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LIFESTYLE LETTER

FEBRUARY 2020 PUBLISHER

KC Cole | kc.cole@lifestylepubs.com ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Jessica Rice | jessica.rice@lifestylepubs.com EDITORIAL COORDINATOR

Jess Bousa | jess.bousa@lifestylepubs.com

Curating

MARKET AREA COORDINATOR

Kirsten Mancosky | kirsten.mancosky@lifestylepubs.com SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR

FEBRUARY—IT’S THE SHORTEST MONTH OF THE YEAR, BUT THERE’S DEFINITELY NO SHORTAGE OF EXCITING THINGS HAPPENING FROM VALENTINES, THE CELEBRATION OF MARDI GRAS AND BLACK HISTORY MONTH. When thinking of ideas for our Makers issue, we were inspired by some of our local public and private schools talented kids who are “Making Their Mark” on page 20. Whether it’s athletics, STEM, arts/music these kids were nominated by their pro-

Bethany Steele | bethany@ordermychaos.com AD DESIGNER

Chad Jensen LAYOUT DESIGNER

Dana Rudolph CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

spective coaches, teachers and or peers as “The Makers”.

Lauri Gross, Marie Wood, Danielle S. Tepper

“Catch them if you can”. Montgomery County Firebirds Track Club continuing 30

Jack Hartzman, Ronald Gilbert Baker, Jeffrey Lay, Orly Konig Lopez, Monica Vidal

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

years strong still producing outstanding All American Athletes and counting! We also visited the Pentagon in celebration of Black History month to speak to a very special Lt. Inspector General of the US Army and how he is giving back to the community in a big way.

CORPORATE TEAM CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Steven Schowengerdt

And if you’re on the hunt for some locally made Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetie,

CHIEF SALES OFFICER Matthew Perry

we recommend checking out Sprinkles Ice Cream Shop. What about a short

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER DeLand Shore

weekend romantic getaway? We have you covered at the Tidewater Inn. Thinking

ART DIRECTOR Sara Minor

Valentine’s Dinner or Brunch? Make a reservation at family owned Gregorio’s or

OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Janeane Thompson

Hunters Bar and Grill for an amazing dinner and much more. Consider this issue your guide to Making It a Great February!

AD MANAGER Chad Jensen REGIONAL SALES DIRECTOR Eric Williams WEB APPLICATIONS Michael O’Connell

Thank you for reading, we hope to see you around!

KC Cole , Publisher

ARIZONA | CALIFORNIA | COLORADO | CONNECTICUT | FLORIDA | GEORGIA IDAHO | ILLINOIS | KANSAS | MARYLAND | MASSACHUSETTS | MICHIGAN MINNESOTA | MISSOURI | MONTANA | NEVADA | NEW JERSEY | NEW YORK NORTH CAROLINA | OHIO | OKLAHOMA | OREGON | PENNSYLVANIA SOUTH CAROLINA | TENNESSEE | TEXAS | VIRGINIA | WASHINGTON

ON THE COVER Public and Private School “Makers” of Montgomery County

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JACK HARTZMAN & MONICA VIDAL 4

Potomac Lifestyle | February 2020

PotomacLifestyle.com

514 W 26TH ST., KANSAS CITY, MO Proverbs 3:5-6 Potomac Lifestyle™ is published monthly by Lifestyle Publications LLC. It is distributed via the US Postal Service to some of the Potomac areas’ most affluent neighborhoods. Articles and advertisements do not necessarily reflect Lifestyle Publications’ opinions. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written consent. Lifestyle Publications does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. Information in Potomac Lifestyle™ is gathered from sources considered to be reliable, but the accuracy of all information cannot be guaranteed.


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INSIDE THE ISSUE FEBRUARY 2020

FEATURES 12 Romance is Closer Than You Think Visit Easton’s Tidewater Inn for a Romantic Valentine’s Day Getaway

16 The Call to Serve U.S. Army offers framework for success

20 Making Their Mark Local Students Find Success Within Themselves and Share It With Others Through Sport and Music

20 16

28 Catch Them If You Can! Firebirds Track Club Transforms Kids into a Community of Competitors

12

28 DEPARTMENTS 4

Lifestyle Letter

8

Good Times

10

Around Town

12

Road Trip

16

Open House

28 Local Limelight 32 Lifestyle Calendar


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February 2020 | Potomac Lifestyle

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GOOD TIMES 1.

2.

3.

MCPF Excellence and Leadership Dinner Honoring Chief J. Thomas Manger Held October 16th, 2019 at the Bethesda Country Club. In addition to honoring Chief Manger at the dinner, the Foundation also awarded training, development and scholarships to two officers demonstrating exceptional leadership. The annual scholarships were dedicated in Chief Manger’s name.

4.

5.

6.

9.

10.

7.

8.

1. Capt. Marc Yamada,MCP Commander and Awardee & Chief J. Thomas Manger, Ret. | 2. Chief J. Thomas Manger, Ret. & President of MCPF Marvin Address | 3. Chief MCP Marcus Jones | 4. Asst Chief Dave Anderson, Acting Asst Chief Ronald Smith, Acting Asst Chief Paul Liquorie, Chief Marcus Jones | 5. Alex Aquino MD & Melissa Mollet | 6. Charles Atwell, Ginanne Italiano & Council Member Gabe Albornez | 7. Dr. Suresh K Gupta, MD, Paul Scott & Dr. Norvell (“Van”) Coots, CEO Holy Cross Health | 8. Laura Lanham, Deputy Chief Rockville , Steve Smugeresky, MCP Officer and Awardee | 9. Pete Santighian, Alison Santighian, Heather Johnson, Dave Johnson | 10. Left to right: Emcee Melissa Mollet of Fox4 News, Steve Smugeresky, MCP Officer and Awardee, Chief J. Thomas Manger, Ret., Capt. Marc Yamada, MCP Commander and Awardee, & Chief Marcus Jones 8

Potomac Lifestyle | February 2020


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AROUND TOWN

100-YEAR-OLD TUSKEGEE AIRMAN MAY RECEIVE HONORARY PROMOTION Â A 100-year-old retired Tuskegee Airman Air Force colonel may soon receive an honorary promotion to brigadier general. Charles E. McGee, of Bethesda, completed a record 409 combat missions while serving in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, Sen. Chris Van Hollen said in a statement. During his 30-year career in the United States Air Force, McGee also held numerous leadership roles and became the first African American to command a stateside Air Force Wing Base. To honor his service, the Democratic senator from Maryland introduced legislation in July that would authorize McGee's honorary promotion

wasn't cast because of the color of her skin or as

to general.

part of a diversity initiative, she said.

BARNSLEY ELEMENTARY SELECTED AS MARYLAND BLUE RIBBON SCHOOL

https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/04/us/charlottenebres-nyc-ballet-nutcracker-trnd/index.html

Montgomery County's Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary School in Rockville was one of six schools honored by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon as a 2019-2020 Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools. The school was recognized as an Exemplary High Performing School, which puts it in at least the top 15 percent of all schools in Maryland based on state assessment scores in math and English language arts (ELA). Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary, located at 14516 Nadine Drive, is the first school in Maryland to be named after a woman. According to the state, there are 746 kindergarten through grade 5 students. Nearly half of students represent socioeconomically disadvantaged families, special needs students, or English language learners. It is also the only elementary school in Montgomery County with a Gifted and Talented Learning Disabled (GTLD) program.

NEW YORK CITY BALLET HAS CASTED A BLACK MARIE

CONGRATULATIONS TO FEYNMAN SCHOOL STUDENT AIDEN STANTON-BRAND Feynman School loves celebrating the success of our their students inside and outside of the classroom. Potomac Lifestyle would also like to shine a spotlight on student Aidan

For the first time, New York City Ballet has

Stanton-Brand! He performed at the Kennedy

cast a black Marie in its annual production of

Center in the Washington National Opera at the

"George Balanchine's The Nutcracker," which

November shows: The Magic Flute

premiered in 1954. This season, the leading role of the young hero-

10

ine is being played by 11-year-old Charlotte Nebres.

We are always accepting submissions for announce-

Dena Abergel, children's ballet master at New

ments you’d like to see included in our Around Town

York City Ballet, acknowledged that the casting

section. Submissions are accepted via the Contact

decision was a significant milestone. But Charlotte

Us tab at PotomacLifestyle.com.

Potomac Lifestyle | February 2020


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ROAD TRIP

VISIT EASTON’S TIDEWATER INN FOR A ROMANTIC VALENTINE’S DAY GETAWAY

ARTICLE MARIE ROBEY WOOD | PHOTOGRAPHY PROVIDED

R O M A N C E I S C LO S E R T H A N YO U T H I N K 12

Potomac Lifestyle | February 2020


The Tidewater Inn, a historic landmark that has 91 rooms and spaces available for corporate meetings, weddings and small gatherings.

According to the Tidewater’s General Manager Lauren Catterton, the Inn welcomes people from all over including New Jersey, New York and DC. Many families decide to hold wedding receptions and even the wedding ceremony at the Inn, sometimes taking over its 91 rooms with their guests. In fact in its 70 years of existence over 1,000 wedding celebrations have taken place here. The receptions can occur in the Gold Ballroom (which can accommodate up to 220 people seated and 375 reception style) or the Crystal Room (which can accommodate 120 seated or 200 people reception style). The facility also offers a private garden courtyard or a sailcloth-tented Gold Room Garden pavilion for weddings. Smaller spaces are available for rehearsal dinners and post-wedding brunches. If you are planning a wedding you are encouraged to book early – they are already taking reservations for 2021! The Grand Bridal Tasting on February 22 will include all ANYONE WISHING TO LOCATE A ROMANTIC GET-

contracting bridal families and is certain to be a festive

AWAY IN FEBRUARY WOULD BE HARD-PRESSED

affair. An on-site salon, Studio2, is another plus offered

TO FIND A LOVELIER SPOT THAN THE TIDEWATER

to brides and bridesmaids on their wedding day.

INN IN EASTON, MARYLAND. Reachable from

The Tidewater enjoys celebrating the seasons and

Potomac in less than two hours off-season, the

Easton is home to the annual Waterfowl Festival in

Tidewater offers a cozy and unpretentious bed and

November as well as hosting a caroling sing-a-long

breakfast that is loaded with history and class.

and tree-lighting ceremony in December. Romantic

Those in-the-know about Maryland’s Eastern Shore

carriage rides are offered in Easton as well. When the

recognize Easton as a relaxed, small town that happens

weather warms up visitors can catch runners par-

to be jam-packed with charming shops, art galleries,

ticipating in Cambridge’s triathalon and other races

restaurants and even several wineries. It is also the

zooming through the town.

county seat of Maryland’s Talbot County where its dis-

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, the Tidewater is offer-

trict and circuit courts reside. The town also boasts the

ing the entire month of February for visitors to “cele-

historic Avalon Theatre, originally built as a cinema in

brate love, unplug, relax and reconnect.” Its Valentine

1921 but which today serves as the prime venue of the

Getaway package includes overnight accommodations

mid-shore area for performing arts.

for two, a bottle of champagne in the guest room and a

The Tidewater Inn, long a beloved landmark in

$50 gift card to Hunters’ Tavern, the hotel’s main dining

Easton, started as a hotel dating back to 1891. It has

room. A continental breakfast, coffee and mimosas will

known several owners through the years and oper-

be delivered to the guest room.

ated under several names, included the Avon Hotel,

It is probably a good idea to book a room early for

when it was destroyed by fire in 1944. However, a gen-

Valentine’s Day because for the first time Easton is

tleman named A. Johnson Grymes broke ground on

hosting a Fire and Ice Festival with the Tidewater Inn

the Tidewater Inn in 1947 where it still resides today.

serving as one of the sponsors. Taking place from

The grand opening of the Inn saw 4,000 guests cele-

February 14 – 16 the festival will feature dozens of

brating its completion in 1949.

ice sculptures throughout Easton’s historic district. CONTINUED >

February 2020 | Potomac Lifestyle

13


ROAD TRIP (CONTINUED)

According

to

the

Discover

Easton

Website,

https://discovereaston.com/ the week-end will kick off with a Friday night Ice Block Party on Valentine’s Day which will include live music and entertainment, and a grand ice carving demonstration where spectators can watch carvers design 3,000 pounds of ice into a unique  work of art. A tour of other ice sculptures is ongoing throughout Friday evening and Saturday and ends Sunday at noon when the festival finishes with sculptors smashing their creation to pieces during the “Ice Breaker Party”.  Visitors during the Valentine’s Day week-end should surely visit the inn’s restaurant, Hunters’ Tavern, which often garners rave reviews from diners. Although its crab cakes and other offerings of seafood are popular menu choices, its unique specialty item is a definite crowd-pleaser: Snapper Soup. It is the creation of Chef Raymond Copper who has worked at the Inn for over 50 years. He inherited the recipe from his grandparents, which he tweaked to make his own.  It is made once a week with Eastern Shore turtles, called snappers, covered in a tomato-based broth. Even a non-adventurous eater like this writer will testify that it is delicious. Inside the tavern is the newly-renovated Skipjack Bar, a popular gathering spot for week-day happy hours. A brunch on Saturday and a la carte breakfast on Sunday also take place in the tavern.   Finally travelers wishing to find a smaller and more intimate experience in Easton should definitely visit the Tidewater House — previously called the Inn at 202 Dover — an historic mansion built in 1874 which is just one block from the Inn, which it purchased in the spring of 2019. The Tidewater House contains four suites and one guest room. With names such as “The English Suite,” “The French Suite,” “The Asian Suite” and “The Safari Suite” guests can enjoy newly-renovated rooms furnished with antiques or authentic reproduction furniture that would look right at home in Architectural Digest. Modern conveniences including air jet tubs, cable TV and steam showers are included.  Both the rooms in the Tidewater Inn and the Tidewater House are currently being renovated to keep them fresh and up-to-date. The completion of one last item – The Terrace Spa – will offer even more opportunities to relax and savor the good life courtesy of the Tidewater Inn. 

14

Potomac Lifestyle | February 2020


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OPEN HOUSE

THE CALL TO SERVE U.S. ARMY OFFERS FRAMEWORK FOR SUCCESS

MUCH LIKE THE COUNTRY IT PRO-

don’t have families, we don’t have objectives.

TECTS, THE UNITED STATES ARMY IS A

It’s not like that,” says Smith. “We grow up, we

COLLECTION OF COMPLEX, DIVERSE

have families, we have aspirations. We’re from

INDIVIDUALS WITH GOALS AND AMBI-

the community, we all are.”

TIONS, ALL SEEKING A SENSE OF

Smith was born and raised on the con-

FAMILY, PURPOSE, AND DEDICATION

cept of community. His father, who served

TO A MISSION IN LIFE. “It’s not a job, it’s

in the Korean War, died when Smith was

a calling,” says Lt. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, the

just five years old. Smith spent every sum-

Inspector General of the Army, of serving

mer in his father’s hometown of Mound

in the armed forces. “Service to the mili-

Bayou, Miss., an independent community

tary should not be viewed as a last choice

founded after the Civil War in 1887 by

if you can’t do anything else, rather a great

former slaves. “It became a utopia,” says

opportunity; a stepping-stone to do different

Smith. “African American business own-

things. It’s not for everyone, but it prepares

ers ran the hospitals, became the Mayor.

you for anything you need to do in life.”

I learned through them, and through my

It’s important for members of the community, particularly those not personally

family, how to be self-sustaining, to have high standards, to be disciplined.”

acquainted with a member of the military, to

He then joined junior ROTC, which is a

embrace whatever reflections of themselves

great opportunity for young people to learn

they may see in the uniform. “I think sometimes

about citizenship, leadership, and service,

people think we’re monochromatic—that we

according to Smith.

CONTINUED >

ARTICLE DANIELLE S. TEPPER | PHOTOGRAPHY LEROY COUNCIL

16

Potomac Lifestyle | February 2020


U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, the 66th Inspector General of the Army, speaks in his office at the Pentagon (U.S. Army photo by Thomas M. Ruyle)

February 2020 | Potomac Lifestyle

17


OPEN HOUSE (CONTINUED)

“It gave me the framework to learn what service really means,” he says. “What it means to work hard, to be humble, and to be a part of something greater than myself.” Smith rose through the ranks and is now (as of Dec. 16, 2019) one of the Army’s 44 activeduty African American general officers—out of 314 total active-duty general officers—ranging from one to four stars. About 6,000 second lieutenants are commissioned every year and only about 52 of those reach the rank of general. “Focusing on diversity is important in our Army,” Smith says. “The Army is comprised of over 20% African Americans and has identified and selected 10 African Americans to be either three- or four-star generals today; that’s unheard of in the history of the Army.” Of course, no matter the race, there is one color that rises above the rest in the U.S. Army— they all wear green.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, the 66th Inspector General of the Army, in his office at the Pentagon. (U.S. Army photo by Thomas M. Ruyle) 18

Potomac Lifestyle | February 2020


When you put your clients first, the results speak for themselves.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, the 66th Inspector General of the Army, talks to Boys and Girls Club of America Military Youth of the Year finalists in his office at the Pentagon (U.S. Army photo by Leroy Council)

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MAKING THEIR MARK

LOCAL STUDENTS FIND SUCCESS WITHIN THEMSELVES AND SHARE IT WITH OTHERS THROUGH SPORT AND MUSIC

ARTICLE LAURI GROSS PHOTOGRAPHY MONICA VIDAL & JACK HARTZMAN

WHEN PEOPLE SAY “YOU’VE MADE IT” BEFORE YOU FINISH HIGH SCHOOL, IT MIGHT SEEM LIKE THERE’S NOWHERE ELSE TO GO. But each of these local athletes and musicians selected by their teachers & coaches still have plenty of upside as they continue to excel in many aspects of their young and impressive lives.

STONE RIDGE SCHOOL OF THE SACRED HEART:

PHOEBE BACON A high-school senior and swimmer, Phoebe credits her older siblings with her initial interest in the sport, at age three. “My older siblings began to swim for our summer team and of course I wanted to follow them,” she said. Phoebe concedes that, for her parents, swimming “was mostly a way to try to tire me out.” It appears not to have worked.  Phoebe has competed across the U.S. and in Italy, Fiji, Spain and Peru. At the 2018 Summer Nationals, in Irvine, California, after clocking her best time in the 100-meter backstroke, and entering the finals in second place, Phoebe said, “I was so happy. I could barely nap between prelims and finals.” Phoebe, who will attend the University of Wisconsin next year, added, “Being busy is a blessing and a curse. I enjoy always having something to do, but it can get really hard to keep up with.”

QUINCE ORCHARD HIGH SCHOOL:

EMMA CHRISTENSEN As a third-grader, Emma began playing lacrosse when her brother convinced her to play. The best part, she said is, “all the friends I have made along the way.” While Emma credited her dad as her biggest supporter, she said, “I could not do this without the help of my mom and my siblings.” Emma’s dad Greg said, “During the summer on weekends it's often just Emma and me hitting the road for various tournaments.” Reflecting back, Greg said, “Since 4th or 5th grade, Emma was basically the Quince Orchard girls’ lacrosse ball girl/ mascot. She would be on the sideline at many games over the years cheering the team on.  It's so much fun to watch her now play for Quince Orchard.”  Emma is currently a high-school junior and has committed to play D1 lacrosse at Virginia Tech starting in 2021. She also plays for the M&D Lacrosse Club. 20

Potomac Lifestyle | February 2020


BULLIS SCHOOL:

ALISHA SCHRUEFER

BULLIS SCHOOL:

TONY ZENG

Sounding older than the 8th grader she is, musician and composer

Tony (Fanyao) asks friends if they like music but he really

Alisha advises others to never force their way through a creative

wants to know if they like music theory. “No one has ever said

block. “Inspiration,” she said, “comes to you when you least expect

‘yes,’” explained the Bullis School junior from China. Tony has

it.” She should know. She’s been playing piano since age 3, and viola

played the saxophone since 3rd grade, has been compos-

since the fourth grade, and began taking composition lessons at the

ing since 7th grade, and really enjoys studying music theory.

age of 10. “I had so many musical ideas and I just wanted to learn

At Bullis, he is enrolled in a music theory independent study,

how to write them down,” she said and added, “First I tinker around

private saxophone and music theory lessons, and plays in five

with whatever instrument I find handy and then I start to write my

different instrumental groups. “In China,” he said, “They don’t

piece. There is also an editing component. Finally, when my piece

really care about the theory. They just care about getting the

is performed, I get to share my musical thoughts with an audience!”

notes right.” As for composing, Tony said, at first, “I just wrote

One of her favorite moments, she said, was meeting other young

what sounded good to me.” What Tony writes also sounds good

composers when she performed her piece “Cherry Blossom Dance”

to others. The Bullis Jazz Workshop is rehearsing one of his

at the honors concert at the NAfME (National Association for Music

pieces and the concert band may perform another this spring.

Education) Eastern Division Conference in Pittsburgh last spring.

Tony plans to enter it into a music competition. Whether it wins or not, Tony said, “For people to enjoy your music…that’s the coolest moment I can think of as a composer.”  

CONTINUED >

February 2020 | Potomac Lifestyle

21


MAK ING THEIR MARK (CONTINUED)

Photo Provided

EAST WEST TAE KWON DO:

CC COZZA As a junior at the University of Maryland studying kinesiology and hoping to start medical school soon, CC (Cecilia) probably doesn’t need any distractions. But she is also an accomplished Tae kwon do competitor and won the National Collegiate Tae Kwon Do Championship in the black belt sparring division last spring. “I trained incredibly hard for that tournament with my coach,” she said, referring to Master Holder of East West Tae Kwon Do. CC has been involved in the sport since she was a toddler and she loves how “no two fights are ever the same.” She said, “Things are constantly changing in the ring. You always have to be observing and learning.” She added, “In sport, failure happens all the time to every athlete. The people who stick around after failure and keep trying are the ones who eventually come out on top.”

WINSTON CHURCHILL HIGH SCHOOL:

BRITTINI MARTIN Usually, when someone is doing flips down the length of a basketball court, it’s a cheerleader but not in Brittini’s case. When Brittini began playing basketball at age 5, she was also a gymnast and her parents, Jerry Martin and Patricia Mason loved watching her, “tumbling and flipping down the court in jubilation,” they said. As a high-school senior today, Brittini leaves the flipping to others but continues to find joy in the game from within herself, and from others, who give her, “constant motivation, encouragement and positive vibes,” she said. “They never allow me to pity myself but to remind me I'm somebody and reinforce I'm special in both their eyes and especially God.” Her coach, Katelyn Blanken added, “Brit is a role model to her peers, on and off the court. She is offensively talented, fierce, and reliable.” 22

Potomac Lifestyle | February 2020

Photo Provided


RICHARD MONTGOMERY HIGH SCHOOL:

LAILA ROGERS “Being on a great team from a young age helped me get several D1 looks,” said volleyball player Laila, who has accepted a full-ride scholarship to the University of Virginia. Referring to her mom, Laila said, “I wouldn’t be at the level I am today without her sacrifices and her always being behind me. I’m currently on a travel team (Metro Volleyball Club) that is ranked 16th in the nation out of thousands.” She is also a senior on the high-school team. “What I like best about volleyball,” she said, “is making new lifelong friends. The team aspect is like having a family.” She also loves sharing with her teammates the common goal of winning. “No matter what, you have to think of the final outcome, and all the doors it can open for you. When looking at the sacrifices people made for me, and all the time I put into it, I realize it’s clearly something I love, so giving up is not an option”

RICHARD MONTGOMERY HIGH SCHOOL:

GARRETT SUHR As a runner, Garrett has defeated many opponents but perhaps none as formidable as the injury bug. “It has always been quite difficult to stay dedicated and motivated when unable to run but whenever I come back and lose a race, my motivation levels always skyrocket,” said Garrett who is now a high-school senior. He described his best moment as, “Coming back from being injured for months and then running a personal best time in the mile. I proved to myself that I wasn’t finished with the sport even after being out for about eight months with various injuries.” Garrett began running in the fourth grade, when friends suggested it might be fun. “Then,” he added, “I started to win everything at the meets and eventually made it to the Hershey National Championships as a 4th grader and placed 4th in the 400. After that I went from the recreational level of track to a more serious club team called The Firebirds Track Club.”

CONTINUED >

February 2020 | Potomac Lifestyle

23


MAK ING THEIR MARK (CONTINUED)

FUSION ACADEMY ROCKVILLE:

ALEX LOPEZ As a standout 9th-grade student/athlete/ musician at Fusion Academy Rockville, Alex serves as the Student Director of Operations in the school’s Student Ambassador Club, competes on the climbing team at EarthTreks (a climbing gym), and plays trumpet in a brass quintet through Pritchard Music. “I’m also part of a multi-genre band at Fusion called The Beanie Boys,” Alex added. “I’m very focused on my goals,” Alex said, and added, “My parents support whatever I do and put me before them. At Fusion, I make my schedule center around my training and music. Everyone is so supportive, so I never get stressed if I need to miss a class due to traveling to competitions or performing.” A favorite moments was when he took 5th place at USA Climbing’s 2019 Sport and Speed Youth Nationals competition in the 13-14 age group. His goal is to compete at the Youth World Championships with a U.S. jersey. Photo by: Jennie Jariel at Earth Treks of Rockville

24

Potomac Lifestyle | February 2020


ST ANDREW’S EPISCOPAL SCHOOL:

SPENCER HAYES Spencer has been playing basketball so long, he can barely recall how he got started. “I’ve had a basketball in my hand for as long as I can remember,” said the St. Andrew’s senior. Kevin Jones, Director of Athletics and Head Varsity Boys Basketball Coach at St. Andrew’s said Spencer is a “very talented student athlete that works hard every day to excel in and out of the classroom.” Spencer said he “thrives on the competitiveness. I really love being a lockdown defender.” Describing how his family supports him he said, “My dad will work out with me in the gym for strength and training; my mom will rebound for me. They always provide what I need and unimaginably more. Importantly, they consistently motivate and encourage me.” He tells others to, “value every moment you have, because basketball does not last forever.”

Photo Provided

ST ANDREW’S EPISCOPAL HIGH SCHOOL:

BENNY WILLIAMS When Benny was five, he became interested in basketball while watching his older sister play. Today, in his junior year at St. Andrew’s, Benny plays forward on the school team. “Benny is an impact player who provides leadership on and off the court,” said Kevin Jones, Director of Athletics and Head Varsity Boys Basketball Coach at St. Andrew’s. “I love playing the game and being around my coaches and teammates. I enjoy the process every day of working hard to get better,” Benny said, while acknowledging the constant challenges he faces as a student athlete. “I try to focus on my individual  and team goals and block out any outside influences,” he said. Benny said his coaches, teachers and his parents, “have high expectations for me but only want me to best that I can be.” Photo Provided

Coach Jones said Benny is “being recruited at a high level and has scholarship offers from several schools.” February 2020 | Potomac Lifestyle

25


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LOCAL LIMELIGHT

Catch Them If You Can! FIREBIRDS TRACK CLUB TRANSFORMS KIDS INTO A COMMUNITY OF COMPETITORS

ARTICLE LAURI GROSS PHOTOGRAPHY RONALD GILBERT BAKER

THEY SAY WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES, ANOTHER OPENS, ESPECIALLY IF EUGENE NEAL IS INVOLVED. Nearly 40 years ago, Gene was employed by Montgomery County, where he initiated a youth track program. When that team was eliminated following a county budget cut, Gene started a new team called the Firebirds Track Club “to provide a place for younger athletes to participate,” he said. Today, as Gene reflected on the Firebirds, which is still going strong, he said, “The Firebirds served as a very fruitful training grounds for many of the high schools in the upper county regions of Montgomery County. It has provided the base for numerous athletes that have become some of the best in the county, whom many have earned athletic scholarships in track and other sports. Also, the discipline and other lessons taught in the Coaches: Standing from left to right: Jamie Jefferson; Shawn Sabbakhan; Paul Peterson; Okinyi Ayungo (Outdoor Head Coach); Front: Corliss Clark, President Emeritus; Eugene Neal, Firebirds Co-Founder & Head Coach Emeritus Not photographed; Ochieng Asugo, Nicky Addison, and Emmett Mcgroarty

program have aided participants to excel in other areas of life.” Gene remained a Firebirds coach through 2014 and is now on the Firebirds Board of Directors and is the Head Track and Field Coach at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School.

28

Potomac Lifestyle | February 2020


Bullis High-School Freshman Reagan Schwartz, at 14, had the farthest Long Jump of any girl her age in the country, broke the regional long jump record, and was an All-American. Reagan says, "In order to stay good at track and field, you have to put in your full effort and dedicate extra time in the off season to train." Regan’s sister Aleah is in 8th grade. Last year she was the AAU Regional Champion in shot put and Javelin and placed 3rd in Discus.” Aleah especially enjoys “when you beat your personal record and you know all your hard work was worth it."

Middle-Schooler Nathaniel fast as lightning! Competed in the 100, 200, and 400-meter at the 2019 USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics in Sacramento, California this past summer. Nathaniel said, “You should never give up. Giving up is the easy way to approach life. You can always overcome your setbacks."

Corliss Clark is also on the Board of Directors and  the President Emeritus of the Firebirds.  She said, “I have been involved with the Firebirds since 2002 when my daughter was nine years old and started running with the Firebirds.” As Corliss saw that the team focused on positive training and competition, she became involved as an active parent volunteer and eventually became a part of the administrative staff and then was voted in as the president. Today, she said her main goal is “to ensure we have a platform that allows any athlete, regardless of their financial or social status, the opportunity to learn a sport that’s a stepping stone for good health, conditioning and ability to excel by working hard.”  Okinyi Ayungo is in his third year as Head Coach for the Firebirds that now includes more than 200 athletes during the outdoor (spring/summer) season. Many Firebirds athletes stand out. Among them are Nathaniel Mintzer, Tiana Welbourne, and sisters Aleah and Reagan Schwartz, to name a few.

CONTINUED >

February 2020 | Potomac Lifestyle

29


LOCAL LIMELIGHT (CONTINUED) Coach Ayungo said high-school freshman Reagan Schwartz is a humble, fierce competitor. She is an outstanding runner and phenomenal jumper.  At 14, she had the farthest Long Jump of any girl her age

enjoys “when you beat your personal record and you know all your hard work was worth it.” Coach

Ayungo

described

Middle-Schooler

in the country, broke the regional long jump record, and was an All-

Nathaniel Mintzer as hard-working, introspective and

American. Reagan said, “In order to stay good at track and field, you have

fast as lightning. He competed in the 100, 200, and

to put in your full effort and dedicate extra time in the off season to train.”

400-meter at the USA Track and Field National Junior

Regan’s sister Aleah is in 8th grade. Last year she was the AAU

Olympics in Sacramento, California this past sum-

Regional Champion in Shot put and Javelin and placed 3rd in dis-

mer. Nathaniel  said, “You should never give up.

cus. Coach Ayungo said Aleah’s “work ethic and attention to details allow

Giving up is the easy way to approach life. You can

her to excel in these highly technical events. She is also a role model

always overcome your setbacks.”

and mentor, often helping to coach younger athletes.” Aleah especially

Coach Ayungo said 10-year-old Tiana Welbon  is running times that would beat most high school athletes in Montgomery County. She is laser-focused when she runs.  Last summer she was the National Champion in the 400-meter and 800-meter and

The 11/12-year-old girls relay team of front row, Taylor Jones, Raylynn Gomez, Back left row: Amira Ayungo, and Elena Juarez ran the 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter at the 2019 AAU National Junior Olympics held in Greensboro, North Carolina. They placed 21st in the nation for the 4x100 and 23rd in the 4x400.

broke the national record for the 400-meter. She was also an All-American in the 200-meter. Tiana said, “Track has always been a dream of mine and running has been something I have liked since I was 7.” Two Firebirds relay teams are also attracting plenty of attention. The  11/12-year-old girls relay team of Raylynn Gomez, Taylor Jones, Amira Ayungo, and Elena Juarez ran the 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter at the  AAU  National  Junior Olympics held this past July 27 thru August 3 in Greensboro, North Carolina. They placed 21st in the 4x100 and 23rd in the 4x400. The 11/12-year-old boys relay team of All-Americans Cayton Scott, Amari Sabbakhan, Rei Nettey, and Colin Abrams placed 7th at Nationals in the 4x400. Coach Ayungo said both these teams “have a strong bond and support each other on and off the track.  Even though most of them will attend different high schools, they will cheer and encourage each other even when their teams are competing against each other.” Coach Shawn Sabbakhan added, “What makes the relays special is that they believe in each other’s abilities and want to be among the best. They are truly ‘one for all and all for one’.” He said it’s fun to “see their levels of growth. A couple of our top competitors use to whine and pout and even played sick if they had to run a 400 or an 800 but now they love it. For more information about joining The Family of Firebirds: www.firebirdstrackclub.com

30

Potomac Lifestyle | February 2020


The 11/12-year-old boys relay team of All-Americans Cayton Scott, Amari Sabbakhan, Rei Nettey, and Colin Abrams ran the 2019 AAU National Junior Olympics held in Greensboro, North Carolina placing 7th at Nationals in the 4x400.

10-year-old Tiana Welbon is the National Champion in the 400-meter and 800-meter dashes and broke the national record for the 400-meter. All-American 200-meter. “Track has always been a dream of mine and running has been something I have liked since I was 7."

February 2020 | Potomac Lifestyle

31


LIFESTYLE CALENDAR

FEBRUARY

5

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LIFESTYLE CALENDAR

FEBRUARY

is a great opportunity for fathers and their daughters to dress up, dine and dance the afternoon away. https://www.facebook.com/events/ the-universities-at-shady-grove/father daughter-dance/564970780918568/

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Potomac Lifestyle | February 2020

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February 2020 Issue of Potomac Lifestyle

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February 2020 Issue of Potomac Lifestyle