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Making his own way How Abibi Osman’s journey helped spark Charlottesville boys soccer. PAGE 07

VOL 8. ISSUE 12 :: AUGUST 8, 2017



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Live your best.




x’s and o’s



THE PRICE OF ADMISSION CHS soccer’s Abibi Osman’s long journey


BEHIND THE SCENES Orange’s Marc Cole wraps up a long career


GAME TIME The 2017 Jefferson Swim League Championships


HITTING THE BIG STAGE STAB boys lacrosse garners national attention

Making his own way VOL 8 . ISSUE 12 :: AUGUST 08, 2017



AQUISITIONS AND MERGERS Albemarle Post 74 baseball goes big

VOL 8. ISSUE 12 :: AUGUST 8, 2017

How Abibi Osman’s journey helped spark Charlottesville boys soccer. PAGE 07

S TA F F Bart Isley, Creative Director Bob Isley, Infrastructure Director Ryan Yemen, Creative Editor O N T H E COV E R Charlottesville’s Abibi Osman M I S S I O N S TAT E M E N T Local sports are the lifeblood of every community in America, and we’re here to reach beyond the basics and give compelling accounts about Central Virginia athletes to our readers. CO N TAC T U S [ e ] info@scrimmageplay.com [ p ] 434-249-2032

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Taking it outside Monticello’s Wrestling program put together a particularly unique event this summer, ending a two-day clinic in July with an outdoor match that started around sunset. The match was held under the lights at the football field. The clinic brought in wrestlers from Indianopolis and across Central Virginia. ✖ (Photo by Bart Isley)

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ALTER EGOS Kendrick tyree Culinary program Kendrick Tyree knows the importance of working together as a team, whether it’s on the lacrosse field or in the kitchen. He also knows what kind of bond that atmosphere can create. “If you ever really want to get to know people and experience leadership and have a second family, you can always join a kitchen or join a team,” Tyree said. Tyree, who was limited by injuries this spring while playing for the Charlottesville Conference runnerup Charlottesville High lacrosse team, is a member of CATEC’s culinary program. Tyree got plugged into cooking in his family. “It was probably my father, he used to own a restaurant and before he passed away he would teach me everything about cooking and I just got really interested in it,” Tyree said. CATEC’s culinary program has helped open a lot of new doors for Tyree, who earned a ServSafe manager certification and wants to be a chef and eventually manage his own restaurant. “I like experiencing new things and trying new things and with culinary you can always find out new flavors and new cultures,” Tyree said. “It can bring everybody together.”

College Track students taking an early step in their career

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First Quarter Mergers and Aquisitions Local Legion baseball gets a shot in the arm By Ryan Yemen


Monroe rising junior Jonathan Sexton is one of a handful of underclassmen playing for Post 74. (Ryan Yemen)

{ DOG DAYS } Stats from Post 74’s 19-18 win over Maryland in the 3rd round of Regionals.

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or years, Albemarle Post 74’s American Legion baseball program has proven its worth to help further develop the area’s overall talent. But the 2017 edition had a little bit different vibe to it and the effects should be interesting to watch over the next few years.

At least on a local level, American Legion baseball might be back to where it was just 10 years ago. While showcase baseball has taken the driver’s seat for most of the top talents over the years during the summer, Legion took a bit of back seat, but still made its presence known. Monticello, Western Albemarle and William Monroe have particularly seen the benefits over the last five years as the Legion scene has helped develop backend talent and provided those teams with deeper rosters. Orange County coach Dave Rabe directly credited the Orange Post 156 team in 2015 and 2016 for providing his program the depth to make the Hornets a Region 5A North contender. So while the popularity of American Legion might have dipped for the better part of the last decade, it has still playing a substantial role in Central Virginia. But that’s looking back. Looking forward is a bit different. Things changed a good bit this year though with a merger between Albemarle and Fluvanna Post 2003 taking place. As a result, Post 74 had a more polished look that more closely resembled the teams packed with collegiate level talent that used to be common place not too long ago. Miller’s Ethan Murray doesn’t need to showcase his talents. The VISAA Division 1 player of the year has already got his collegiate decision in the books with a commitment to Duke. In the same boat was Covenant’s Jacob Haney, who heads to William and Mary this fall. In years past, Jacob Grabeel, who will play for Bridgewater next season, would have been the ace for Post 2003. Now he and fellow Fork Union teammate Hayden Miles rounded

out a Post 74 roster packed with talent and experience. But while Post 74 has a lot of older players leading the way, William Monroe and Albemarle stand to benefit next spring with the Dragons’ Jonathan Sexton and the Patriots’ Nathan Toney, Jacob Browning and Chase Miller all making contributions. “I’ve personally learned a lot,” Sexton said. “I’ve really gotten the chance to work on my focus in tough situations. This is just going up against tougher talent than you’re used to. Playing with the Miller and Covenant guys, they’re all older and know a whole lot.” With a District 13 championship followed by a Virginia Legion championship, Post 74 qualified for the regional tournament for the fourth time in five years. Playing in the Mid-Atlantic tournament in Purcellville, Post 74 posted a 2-2 record. As such, the team finished its season ranked 32nd in the country. “I’ve never had this much fun on a baseball field in my life,” Haney said. “I’ve just really liked getting to play with the guys from Miller, Albemarle, Greene and so on. It’s just been so much fun and that makes baseball even better.” In the years to come area fans could well look to 2017 as the year that the tides changed for American Legion baseball. And as always been the case, when Post 74 does well, the following spring usually yields fruitful results for local high school programs. ✖

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College Update

We’ve gone digital

Orange County alum Wright helps lead Marlins to national title

But you can have it in print too!

By Bart Isley Courtney Wright missed out on the ultimate prize in high school, never winning a state title despite playing on some strong softball teams with talented supporting casts. It’s just really hard to win a state title. Just like it’s really hard to win a national title in college. Well, Wright already has one of those now. She didn’t waste any time getting the ultimate prize at the collegiate level, helping lead Virginia Wesleyan to an NCAA Division III championship as a freshman. Wright was an all-state player for Covenant before she shifted to Orange County where she was also a standout, putting together several of the area’s best pitching performances during her stint there, including a no-hitter early in her senior season. She earned second team AllConference 16 honors as a junior and senior as a pitcher for the Hornets. For the Marlins this season, Wright stepped right into the circle, forming one of the nation’s most formidable one-two punches at pitcher with fellow freshman Hanna Hull. Wright finished the year with a 1.34 ERA, striking out 53 while allowing just 21 earned

runs in 18 appearances without a loss on the season. Six times she went the distance, and she earned third team All-ODAC honors for the effort. In the postseason, Wright was huge in big spots for the Marlins throwing six shutout innings in a 2-0 win to clinch the ODAC tournament title against Emory & Henry. Then in a game the Marlins had to have to stay alive in the Division III championships and force an elimination game. Wright threw a complete game, allowing two hits and two runs while striking out just one. She saved her best work though for the national title game against St. John Fisher in Oklahoma City. Wright started the titleclinching game and threw five scoreless innings, leaning on her defense to close the door. She struck out two in those five innings and scattered three hits while giving up just one walk. It was a dominant, lockdown performance. Headed to the sixth, the Marlins had a 1-0 lead and Hull took over, throwing two no-hit innings to finish the job with Wright picking up the victory. ✖

BELOW » Courtney Wright, below, played for both Covenant and Orange County in high school before winning a National Title with Virginia Wesleyan this spring. (VWU sports information)

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the price

of Admission A bart isley story --shot by ashley thornton and bart isley 07 :: @scrimmageplay


ust days before taking the field in the Group 4A state final four, Abibi Osman and Evan Blow headed to Carr’s Field at UVa looking to work on some things. “We went to shoot around, work out a little bit,” Osman said. The Charlottesville boys soccer seniors combined to create one of the most dynamic attacking tandems in school history and pushed the Black Knights to the brink of a state title after an unbeaten regular season, but that didn’t just happen, it took work. Their meetings to practice shooting, headers and corners became something of a ritual for the two soccer obsessed forwards. “Somedays (during the offseason) it’ll be in the afternoon, I’ll hit him up or he’ll hit me up, let’s go shoot around and work on corner kicks and headers and stuff,” Osman said. “I think it helps a lot because you can see it in the games, I’m always ready to win headers. It doesn’t go in sometimes but I get my head to a lot of balls.” www.scrimmageplay.com ::


It’s not a coincidence that Blow had six goals and an assist and that Osman has six assists and one goal during the Conference 23 and Region 4A West tournaments. That’s a continuation of their season long, notch-for-notch output where Blow had 12 goals and 10 assists, sitting just behind Osman’s team high 15 goals and 11 assists, showcasing incredible balance from start to finish. “It doesn’t matter who scores as long as we get goals, as long as we keep winning,” Blow said. “He gets double-teamed and tripleteamed which opens me up and he can find someone else who can find me. Every time he gets the ball I know we’re going to have a good attacking option.” They work in concert a great deal and both have a knack for taking what the defense gives them. They don’t force the issue in part because they know there’s someone equally strong, equally lethal working alongside them trying to create something special. “They’re both really good goal scorers, they take nice shots and they’re just good solid kids,” said Charlottesville coach Stephan Cost. The ease with which Osman himself plays the game, the way he creates and moves is emblematic of the vibrant community that has helped lift him to this point. Osman has put in a ton of work to become the dynamic, special player that is slated to play

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“Every time he gets the ball I know we’re going to have a good attacking option “ - evan blow at Lynchburg College this fall. But he became the leader and tonesetter that the Black Knights need through an array of mentorships, friendships and partnerships. Those relationships have helped transform a refugee who hadn’t seen many white people before he arrived at Greer Elementary into a program-driving force who has lifted the Black Knights to another level in 2017. Osman arrived in the United States at five years old, pulled with his mother and brother out of a refugee camp in Kenya that they arrived in after fleeing Somalia. Osman, who was born in Kenya after his family fled Somalia, knew even then that once he made it to the United States he had to take advantage of whatever opportunities he could, because, in a way, he’d already come out the winner in a numbers game that was stacked against him. There are more than 400,000 Somali refugees as late as 2015 living in camps in Kenya -- there was

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another wave of Somali refugees into Kenya in 2011 due to droughts in their home country. Osman’s arrival in the United States was predictably jarring. “I was like this is a new world, but I have to adapt to it because I’m going to live here for awhile,” Osman said. Complicating matters for Osman and his family was the fact that his father passed away just before he was set to make his own journey to America to reunite the family. That put more of the onus for the family’s well-being on Osman and his brother Bakar, who after playing for the Black Knights and graduating from Charlottesville, attended community college and is now a student at Virginia Commonwealth University. The Osman’s tight-knit family has helped mold Osman. His mother, Muslim Jamale, who has had to shoulder the load of supporting the family since their arrival and his father’s death, has been a rock for Osman and his brother. “I’m working hard to make her happy and have a successful life,” Osman said. “I’m very thankful. Whatever she can, she helps me out with stuff I need. I’m very thankful for her.” His brother Bakar, meanwhile, has become a guiding light for his younger sibling, helping keep him on course to attend college. “He’s one of my role models because him making it to college

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“this is a new world, but i have to adapt to it because I’m going to live here for a while“ - abibi Osman motivates me to work hard in school too,” Osman said. “He always gets on me, reminds me to do my homework.” Osman has found family outside of his own too. Because of the International Rescue Committee’s presence in Charlottesville, there is a strong refugee community and that’s also led to a steady stream of student athletes at CHS with a refugee background. Osman and teammates Yahya Mohamed and right back Daud Mohamud have formed a tight bond. “We’ve been together so long, we have a connection on the field,” Osman said. “When Yahya plays long balls I know where to be and where it’s probably going to end up.” They even employed their shared Somalian roots on the field, speaking a Somalian dialect, Mai Mai, on the field occasionally. Another player, Ayat Mohamed, also got in on that act.

“That’s how we communicate sometimes, when we don’t want the other team to know the way we’re playing,” Osman said. That’s part of a team that essentially has a United Nations worth of backgrounds. “It’s cool to be on a team with a lot of diversity, we have people from Germany, Somalia, Togo,” Osman said. “Amdane is from somewhere, Red (Kondo) is from somewhere. We’re all excited to play football, to play the beautiful game.” Soccer has been a unifying force for that group of athletes, giving them an anchor, a foundation and in some cases a sense of connection. “Soccer is such an important game throughout the world,” Cost said. “It’s a way for them to express themselves, it’s a piece of them, it’s part of their identity and that’s really what makes this program so special.” The refugee community’s presence has also led to the development of support programs throughout the community that produce a stream of mentors who help ease refugees’ transition and development. When mentors like Matt Cofer, who moved away but checks back in regularly, have come along for Osman or Mohamed or Mohamud, they’ve found that instead of mentoring one student, they get a three-for-one deal.

“We always work as a group, none of us have individual mentors, it’s like you take one of us, you take all three of us,” Osman said. There are real struggles for Osman, who is trying to figure out how to make up the difference between what he’s earned through scholarships and grants toward an education at Lynchburg and the school’s cost. There’s a GoFundMe page that’s been put together to help that effort. But despite those struggles, Osman remained focused on his personal goals -- the chance to play in college, graduating from high school — and the team goals — playing for a conference, a regional and then a state championship before falling in a frustrating state final. He’s managed despite distractions, frustrations and tragedy to stay pointed forward. To make good on a thought process that’s been there since he was young — to not waste an opportunity. That’s why he was out there with Blow on a Monday before the state final four working on set pieces. Then Osman knew for sure that he’d done his part. CHS fell just short of the state title they’d worked for, but Osman himself made good on that promise to himself as a young refugee. Don’t waste an opportunity he thought way back then, half a world away. And he didn’t. ✖

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Behind the Games

Story and photos by Ryan Yemen 13 :: @scrimmageplay


e had just one day and half left of work. Orange County’s Marc Cole, was less than 48 hours away from officially retiring as the school’s athletic director — the longest serving AD in the Jefferson District calling it a career.

On June 28, he was cleaning up his office, going

through file cabinets and discovering paperwork that he’d long forgotten he’d saved. “I’ve been digging through some of this stuff and it’s 20-30 years old,” Cole said. “There’s so much of it and I don’t know what to do with a lot of it, or that anybody really needs it.” The last few days on the job, it wasn’t all clean up for Cole. He was still on the clock so he was doing what gets done every summer — tallying equipment inventory, getting the house in order for the fall season. On his desk sat a yellow notebook with all the totals. Like any athletic director, Cole’s phone rings every five to 10 minutes. At that point, the end of June, he gets one call about some building construction and how much lumber that will require. Another call is about a booking of the Hornets’ athletic center in July. Cole directs the woman to contact incoming athletic director Mike Neeley. Old friends and colleagues come by and congratulate him on retiring, chat and go down memory lane, a lane that extends a long, long ways. www.scrimmageplay.com ::


If you’re doing the job properly, nobody spends more hours at the school. It would have been fun to try and keep a journal.”

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When Marc Cole first came to Orange, it was by way of Northwestern Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Bonnie, graduated from Clarion State and both found work in Orange. A math teacher at the time, Cole remembers showing up in 1983, and upon reflection, just how much things have changed. “When I first got here they had a smoking shed outside of the school,” Cole said. “If you were of legal age and your parents signed a permission slip you could go into the shed and have a cigarette during breaks. It’s crazy to think about.” The curriculum was a little bit different for math teachers back then too. Yes there was Geometry and Algebra 1, 2 and 3. But one of the classes Cole taught was “consumer math” which taught students things like balancing a checkbook, learning about basic finance and so forth. Cole initially joined the athletic department as a coach, spending two years as the junior varsity baseball coach and then four years as the varsity softball coach. But in 1988, he took an administrative role at the school that would last for 29 years when signed on as the school’s athletic director. While a lot has changed since the 1980’s the job as athletic director remains mostly the same — technological advances aside, obviously. At the end of the day, the job is about staffing teams with coaches and planning and executing all the various sporting events. Athletic directors come to the school in the morning and they leave late at night when whatever game on the slate that evening is over — and it’s usually them turning off the lights. “If you’re doing the job properly, nobody spends more hours at the school,” Cole said. “It would have been fun to try and keep a journal with the hours. But the general logistics of the job, I mean sports are still sports so not a lot has changed. Ticket takers, PA guys, concessions stands. That’s all the same. And actually the older you get, the easier it gets because the people at Orange are just fantastic, the parents, teachers they all call me and ask if I need them. I always said ‘Of course I do.’ I don’t get this done without them.” During his tenure, Orange enjoyed success in a vast array of sports. The highlights for Cole include the 1998 and 1999 Group AA championship softball teams and the 1992 Group AA runner up football team. “Those girls on the ‘98 and ‘99 team were so good we’ve only had a few since then that would be able to hang with them,” Cole said. “I can remember being down at Richlands for that state football game and how there wasn’t a blade of grass on the field. It was nothing but mud.” Orange fell 19-10 to Richlands. The stories of that game still permeate around the county. The night before that game, the National Guard worked until early morning hours trying to dry the field. A helicopter was even used to try and dry things out.

TEAM SPOTLIGHT ALBEMARLE POST 74 BASEBALL Summer baseball brings together all kinds of players from all kinds of different schools, public and private. Congratulations to the Albemarle post 74 American Legion Baseball team on winning both the District 13 and Virginia State tournaments. Making it to the Mid-Atlantic Tournament is quite the accomplishment and winning a pair of games there helps showcase just how much talent this area has. Great job Post 74!

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Those were the glory years for Orange in the Battlefield District with Cole as athletic director. In 1996, the same year that Orange opened up its state of the art Hornets Sports Center, the Jefferson was formed. But Orange and Louisa County did not jump aboard the JD until 1999. Leaving traditional rivals like Spotsylvania and the schools from Fredericksburg for the likes of Western Albemarle and Monticello around Charlottesville wasn’t easy, but the advantages of easier and less costly travel go a long ways. And with the Lions willing to join the Hornets, the decision became easier. “We thought that the move was a better fit for us athletically,” Cole said. “But also, going to Caroline and King George, that’s a haul. Now everything is pretty close. But we had to have Louisa come with us.” For the next 12 years the Hornets stayed in the Jefferson, but a bump up from Group 4A to Group 5A changed the school dramatically in athletics. Orange joined Albemarle and a handful of schools in and around Stafford County in the Commonwealth District from the fall of 2011 until the spring of 2013. When VHSL realignment came about in the fall of 2013, both Orange and Albemarle’s stints in the Commonwealth ended. Football at Orange, like in a lot of communities in Central Virginia, has always been a unifying event. The recent rise for the Hornets has things feeling like they did a decade ago. A little less than 15 years after falling to Richlands in 1992, the buzz around the Hornets was at full tilt again. “Everyone pretty much knows it — if football is good then

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Any kid that comes back that was a product of ours, that’s just amazing to have.”

everything else just seems to follow suit. Over the years here it was coach Paul Sizemore who was a legend and then it evolved over the 90’s with John Curia and later into Coach K (John Kayajanian) with Bradley Starks, Asa Chapman and T.J. Minor and then it was Quintin Hunter and so on. I never saw the likes of a Bradley Starks growing up — and not too many do — where I came from I don’t think a single kid could dunk a basketball.” Starks is now an assistant for another OC alumnus, current football coach Jesse Lohr. With back-to-back playoff appearances, this staff made up of guys who played in Orange is getting this current crop of athletes to buy in. “Any kid that comes back that was a product of ours, that’s just amazing to have,” Cole said. “And then especially a guy like Bradley, he can come back and tell the kids how it really is to play at the Division I level. Everyone thinks they’re a Division I athlete.

If you’re out there making sure everything is fair for the kids then you’re doing the job.”

But a real D1? He’s it. He’s the real deal and can tell the kids what it takes.” That’s something that Hornets have — no shortage of top notch athletes. In Larry and Chris Haney, they have a father and son tandem that both played Major League baseball. D.J. Brown, a 2009 graduate, is currently in the Cleveland Indians minor league system. Starks went to West Virginia and played both football and basketball. There’s just never a shortage of athleticism at Orange. “When I got here I just couldn’t believe how much just raw talent was here in Orange,” Cole said. To call 2017 a reflective year for Orange County is putting it mildly. In March, Kayajanian, one of Cole’s closest friends, unexpectedly died at 61 years old. On July 29, beloved softball and girls basketball assistant coach Charles “Skeeter” Lutz died after a lengthy bout with cancer. Those deaths sandwiched between Cole’s

retirement leave the Hornets in a very new place. But with so many home grown products leading the way, Cole knows that these student athletes have the right people guiding them. “Jesse Lohr, Dave Rabe, all these guys played for us, went off to school and came back,” Cole said. “All these guys bust their humps. They put in the time. I mean I couldn’t ask for anything more. To see all this happen for these coaches personally, and then also for me to watch it happen, it’s just amazing. I feel like I’m leaving and everything is in good shape.” So now new athletic director Mike Neeley steps into a pretty solid situation with more than a handful of homegrown coaches. And for Neeley or for any future athletic directors out there, Cole has clear and simple advice. “The biggest thing about this job, and it’s what I tell all the new guys — you have to make yourself visible,” Cole said. “You have to go to away games, let the parents know that you’re supporting their kids. If you’re out there making sure everything is fair for the kids then you’re doing the job.” But if you think that just because he’s retired he won’t be out there doing his job, you’re sorrily mistaken. “Yea, I’ll still be around,” Cole said. “I’m not going anywhere.” And that should be comforting for the entire community in Orange. He came to the county in 1983. His son, Jeremy, is an Orange graduate and is an assistant coach on the football team. Sure, Cole is originally from Pennsylvania. But at the end of the day he’s a Hornet through and through. ✖

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Game Time

2017 JSL Championships By Bart Isley

Matt Mandell was one of many gold medal swimmers at the JSL championships held at Fork Union. (Tom Pajewski)

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There’s a story in every time that makes it into the books at the Jefferson Swim League Championships. There’s the decorated older swimmer in their last year of competition in the league setting a record or winning an event title like Fry Spring’s Cole McMahonGioeli in the 100-free or Zachary Greenhoe in the 15-18 meter 100-IM, 50-free and 50-backstroke. Or Boar’s Head’s Matt Mandell in the 50-backstroke and teammate Morgan James in the 100-free. There’s the burgeoning stars clocking swims beyond their years like Fairview’s Claire Moody and ACAC’s Athena Vanyo who finished 1-2 in the individual high point standings in the girls 13-14 year old group. Both set new meter-based records in their individual events. Or Crozet’s Thomas Heilman, a 10-year old who was coming off setting two state records and a meet record at the Virginia Long Course Age Group Championships and was equally dominant at the JSL meet, setting three individual records by more than three seconds each in the 50free, 50-back and 50-fly, winning the high point award for the 9-10 boys. There’s also the largely new-to-the-sport young swimmers who knocked full seconds off their previous time like Boar’s Head’s Lucas Daniero, who scored for Boar’s Head in one event, the 50-fly, but dropped 12 seconds from his 100-IM, six seconds off his previous 50-fly and 9.5 seconds off his 100-free clocking. Or Elena Handy of Key West who won the perseverance award that recognizes the JSL swimmer 12 and under for her dedication to improving on a personal level and inspiring teammates to do the same. 2017 was different in location only, as the annual horde of young swimmers descended on Fork Union’s pool instead of UVa’s AFC to set records, improve and showcase what they learned and their hard work from this summer.

Fairview Swim Club walked away with the title again with 2,395 points, but not without holding off a strong charge by the Crozet Gators who clocked in with 2,285 points and ACAC that checked in in third with 2,271 points. Boar’s Head (fourth with 2,102) and Fry’s Spring (fifth with 2,027 points) also crossed the 2,000-point mark. A pack of new records were set, due in part to these being meter-based records which were only set during the one other time the championships were swam at Fork Union, back in 2012. When held at UVa’s AFC, the championships are measured in yards. Fairview notched high point winners from Moody in the 13-14 year old girls, Lucas Smith in the 13-14 year old boys as well as the runner-up in that spot, Victor Valovalvo and the runnerup in the boys eight and under (Colt Bloxsom) and girls 11-12 (Madelyn Wells). Second place Crozet picked up relay wins in the 11-12 boys 200 medley and free, 9-10 girls 200 free, 6 and under 100 free. High point standouts from the Gators were Heilman and 8 and under girls runner-up Miller Grimes. ACAC notched relay wins in the 8 and under girls 100 free and 100 medley, 8 and under boys 100 medley, the 9-10 boys 200 medley and free, the 13-14 boys medley. ACAC’s Chase Easton won the eight and under boys high point nod, Sofie Vanyo won the girls in that age group and Mariam Mithgal won the girls 9-10 high point award. Athena Vanyo was the runner-up at 11-12 and teammate Jack Smith was the runner-up in the boys 11-12 group. ACAC, who won the Regular Season Division I title, took home the Championship Spirit Award in Division I, with Farmington winning that in Division II and Gordonsville winning it in Division III. Hollymead was the Division II champion for the meet while Glenmore took home the Division III title. ✖



Student profiles: Jonathan Walker Even when you know Fork Union’s Jonathan Walker is getting the ball, even when you know he’s taking the shot, it’s far from easy to stop him. Walker is an explosive presence on the lacrosse field, notching 49 goals and 16 assists in his final season with the Blue Devils. The recent FUMA graduate owns the school’s single-game scoring record for Fork Union’s lacrosse program after pouring in nine goals and adding two assists in his final game against New Covenant, putting a cherry on top of a productive career that helped give the FUMA lacrosse program’s continued building process a major boost. That productivity is why Hiram College in Ohio signed Walker, a 5-foot-9 attackman. The North Carolina native will join the Terriers’ program that competes in Division III’s North Coast Athletic Conference with D-III lacrosse heavyweights like Denison and Ohio Wesleyan next season. Walker’s impact at Fork Union wasn’t limited to the lacrosse program either. Walker served as a private in Alpha Company, leading the company in the Mother’s Day parade shortly before he graduated. Walker made a mark at Fork Union in the corps and on the lacrosse field at Fork Union. That’s an impressive legacy and an excellent foundation, setting himself up for success at the next level both on the field and in the classroom.

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Hitting the big stage How the HSLN tournament benefitted STAB lacrosse


harlottesville, as a community, as a region, punches way above its weight. That’s been a fact for a long time — Charlottesville isn’t your typical small town. Typical small towns don’t have a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they don’t have a world class university. There’s an attitude in Charlottesville that even though this isn’t Silicon Valley or New York or Washington, D.C. we can still touch greatness and make something special happen. That we can compete on a national or international stage. That’s exactly what St. Anne’s-Belfield’s boys lacrosse team did. They became the embodiment of that spirit on Memorial Day weekend when the Saints traveled to Washington, D.C. to test themselves against the best the country had to offer. Just a week after a frustrating early exit from the VISAA playoffs, the Saints went north to take on St. Sebastian’s in the Geico High School Lacrosse Nationals. STAB lost 21-8 in their quarterfinal tilt, confirming the fact that while the Saints had an unearthly attack, they weren’t a perfect team this season. But that wasn’t the point of that trip to Washington. This was about taking a risk and being a part of something special. This was the first national tournament of its kind, running on Memorial Day weekend, the annual home to the NCAA championships, a sacred weekend for the sport. While the high school event is just in its infancy, being a part of it when it worked in the schedule made a lot of sense for the Saints. “It was a really neat experience,” said coach Bo Perriello after the game. “I said to our guys, this could become a really big event and you’ll say to your children that you played in the first year of it. That’ll be something that they’ll get to carry on forever.” It also had a big impact on the players in the short run — the benefits didn’t just come in the form of a potentially great story down the road. It gave the seniors an extra week of practice and another game, another chance to play together in what’s been a special run for them. Players like Joe Robertson and Jack Schultz who have become a part of the Saints’ legendary program, got a chance to suit up one more time before heading to college. “It was great to have another week with, basically, your brothers, we’re so close,” Robertson said. “It was still a great experience and even though we lost, it’s still a good way to go out.” It also gave Robertson and Schultz another look at the kind of competition they’re going to face coming up in college. Several of the teams had 10 or more players going to play Division I lacrosse. As loaded as STAB loks when compared to teams across Central Virginia and the state, they’ve got about half that number of surefire Division I players in the lineup. Getting outside your comfort zone, jumping into a bigger pond is eye-opening and humbling. It can also be motivating, and that’s clearly how it sat with junior captain Michael DiGiacomo in the wake of the loss. “I think it’s a great thing for the sport,” DiGiacomo said. “Obviously we’re losing (Robertson and Schultz) and a couple of other guys who have a big impact on our team but we have a big sophomore class and this really just showed, for them, that we can play at the top level of the sport. We deserve to be here. We didn’t have our greatest day, but

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“This could become a really big event and you’ll say to your children that you played in the first year of it.” collectively as a team we should be here.” DiGiacomo is an incredibly versatile player who is a natural shortstick midfielder who picks up a longstick during the spring for the Saints, willing to do whatever it takes for STAB to be successful. He’s one of the reasons STAB can play in games like this, because guys who’d be superstars for other programs are willing to play a different role, a role that works for the team. It meant a lot for the Central Virginia community to have STAB in that tournament. It says a lot about our community. When you punch above your weight, you get better. You strive for more, the bar gets raised. STAB’s boys lacrosse team will keep raising that bar, and so will Charlottesville. ✖

Bart Isley,


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What are your thoughts about the state of local lacrosse?: bart@scrimmageplay.com

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Profile for Bart Isley

Volume 8, Issue 12  

Volume 8, Issue 12