Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm


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Number one in the country

USSSA team attains top state & national ranking

   They breathe baseball and bleed success! The Virginia Sports Complex [VSC] 13 and under double-A Baseball Academy baseball team is the number one USSSA team in the state of Virginia and the number one team in the country.
   Based on a USSSA tournament point system, the team has rocketed itself to the top of its atop the
Currently the VCS have a 28-3 in class record and a 34-14 overall record, that includes several tournaments wins during the spring season. During the 2009 spring season, they will play in 13 tournaments, including at trip to Rocky Mount, North Carolina in May. They plan on finishing the season as finalist in the USSSA 13 and under World Series in July.
   Versatility and the ability to play high-level baseball is the key to their game plan. As a team, their present batting average is .467. The entire roster is featured in the batting order; manager Michael Hundley frequently replaces each player as each game unfolds. “Our primary focus is to develop athletes for high school baseball, stress fundamentals, and focus on the advanced skills needed for high level baseball.
   Also, although four players are missing from last season’s roster, the nucleus of the VSC team is still in place.
   The upstart stars from Ruther Glen, Virginia are no strangers to the state and national spotlight. As a 12 and under team during the 2008 spring season, they accumulated 46 victories and two tournament championships.
   Later during the fall, during their 13 and under debut, the team compiled 14 wins out of a 25-game format, that included six appearances in tournaments, which yielded two second place finishes and three third place finishes. In addition, they also finished fourth in another series of games featured in tournament play.
   The following players are featured in tournament play.
   The following players are featured on the 2009 VSC Baseball Academy 13 and under roster: Cody Bell, Jonathan Didlake, Jared Dorton, Dustin Dunton, Jordan Estes, Corey Hall, Michael Hundley, Matthew Hunt, Zachary Kegley, Justin Pitts, Brian Schmied, Zachary Smith, Ethan Steele. Managers include: Michael Hundley [Head coach], George Estes [Assistant coach], Steve Kegley [Assistant coach], Ryan Carroll [Assistant coach], Mike Mallory [VSC Director of Baseball], Mike Smith [Manager].
   Ryan Carroll is a King George High School graduate, and a former District standout in baseball.
After qualifying to play in the Triple Crown World Series in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the VSC placed second in the Silver Bracket format.
    VSC baseball program is continuous throughout the year, whereas the spring program begins in May and ends in July, and the fall portion of the season begins in August and ends in November.
Call it baseball fever, or a collaboration of athletes with a common interest in America’s favorite pastime—whatever description you end up with, it surely will have success as a common denominator. Factoring in the family concept of sportsmanship, and the unique atmosphere that the Virginia Sports Complex in Ruther Glen, Virginia continues to embrace, Hundley and his assistants may have a formula for grooming tomorrow’s high school stars.
    For information pertaining to VSC baseball, go online to www.frozenropesbaseball.com.

Leonard M. Banks
Sports Editor

Stepping it up

ODAC honors Bridgewater standout Katie Schlemm
A pioneer at heart with a passion for competition

   Her athletic career is a metaphor for excellence, yet her mark on the history of Bridgewater College swimming may be her greatest accomplishment. On March 31st, because of her consistent performances in competition, the Old Dominion Athletic Conference [ODAC] honored Katie Schlemm with the award of All-ODAC Honorable Mention. Schlemm’s teammate Morgan Cordle was awarded the Bonnie Ketner Sportmanship of the Year Award. Cordle is the fourth recipient of the award. Cordle and Schlemm are among the Eagles swim team’s tri-captains.
   Nearly two and a half years ago, Schlemm and Cordle decided to express their desire to have a swim program added to the college’s athletic programs. Prior to the establishment of the swim program in 2007, the two seniors were also active in forming a women’s swim club, which provided a foundation for the sport of women’s swimming at Bridgewater. Soon, the Bridgewater administration opened the doors to the first swimming program in the college’s history. Although the team had to overcome the disadvantages of not having lane lines, over-heated 93-degree pool water and no swimming blocks during its initial stages, the program has forged ahead and become a formidable force in the ODAC. “We would often practice a session of swims, jump out of the water and run outside in the middle of winter to cool off, before jumping back in the water,” Schlemm said while reflecting on the early stages of the Eagles swim program.
   Since her sophomore year, Schlemm has been nothing short of spectacular in the water. She has broken school records in the 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly and the 200 individual medley.
   After a strong performance at the ODAC/Atlantic States Championship, where Bridgewater finished fourth, no one will ever question the Eagles competitive spirit. After swimming eight times a day, while taking a daily dosing of verbal vitamins from her swim coach Fran Smith, Schlemm improved in every event by dropping a total of seconds in the 200 individual medley.
   Schlemm has an interesting history of learning from one of the most successful coaches in Battlefield District High School history in the form of Ken Novell, to the present coach, Smith. Smith’s tireless work ethic would include swimming 5,000 meters for two hours a day. “Last year, I never realized that I could swim a 200 butterfly, but towards the end of the season, I could swim a 450 butterfly, which allowed me the endurance to swim the butterfly,” Schlemm said. “Fran pushed me beyond the level of extreme.”
   Because of her tremendous contribution to the swim program, Smith awarded Schlemm the Coaches Award. “She was truly a leader, and helped make the team better every day—she was a very hard worker at practice and challenged herself every day,” Smith said.
   Not only did she finish 12th overall in the butterfly [11th overall amongst ODAC swimmers], and 10th overall in the breaststroke [9th among ODAC swimmers], but also, she earned the right to compete in all of her finals. “My teammates call me the workhorse, and I was thrilled to go beyond the goals that I set for myself in the water,” Schlemm said.
   Whether its biking, running or swimming, the graduating senior from King George has dedicated her life to the pursuit of good health through a consistent regimen of physical fitness. Inspired by her parents, and their allegiance to a health-oriented lifestyle, Schlemm is a living example that a sound body and a active mind will eventually translate into a promising career.
   While at King George High School, Schlemm was a member of three District championship girls’ teams, while contributing as a standout cross-country runner. Schlemm also competed for one season on the Bridgewater cross-country team.
   After receiving her degree in athletic training in May, Schlemm has accepted a job in Southern Maryland with a physical therapy clinic. The clinic will contract her along with several other athletic trainers to different high schools in LaPlata, Maryland.
   In addition, the group will pioneer the first group of trainers to work in the Laplata school system.

Leonard M. Banks
Sports Editor 

Pulling for the fun of it

James Johnson personifies the American spirit

   His passion for mechanical engineering has no boundaries.
  For 35 years, King George resident, James T. Johnson has successfully competed in the sport of lawn and garden tractor pulling, finishing each year at the top of his game. Throughout the years, Johnson, a graduate of Ralph Bunche and a retired truck driver and engineering technician from Indian Head Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center, has placed first numerous times.
   In fact, in 1998, 2005, 2006, and 2007 he celebrated first place four times in each season respectively, using two tractors, a weight transfer sled, that he built in his own backyard. Last year he was third in point production for the 1400-pound Eliminator Modified category. Most recently, at the Hanover County “Shuk N Pull” tractor pull competition, Johnson placed first in the 1200-pound class, using Southern Sample as his tractor. In addition, he placed third in the 1400-pound class, using Mighty Moe as his tractor. Although he competed in the 1850-pound class, he failed to place using Silver Shadow as his tractor.
   The basics of tractor pull competition are simple; whoever can pull a mechanized transfer sled, carrying various amounts of weight the farthest on a 200-foot course, wins. This technical aspects may sound simple, but the reality of tractors failing to start, tractors blowing engines, picking the wrong surface to race in, and not having the weight set in the proper place on the sled could spell disaster for a novice or veteran competitor. The most Johnson has ever pulled was 9,000 pounds.
   The primary difficulty in tractor pulling is carrying the weight-box that is attached to the sled. The weight-box will start out on the wheel portion of the sled, and as the tractor advances, the weight is transferred from the wheels to the drag part of the sled-bed—which eventually makes it harder to advance the tractor.
   Johnson is an active member of the Shenandoah Valley Tractor Pullers Association. The organization has 75 active members who compete all over the country. Some of the states that Johnson has traveled include: Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Maryland and North Carolina.
   As an official, a well-respected member of the tractor pulling circuit, Johnson is 1200 Pro Sportsman Super Modified and the 1400 Pro Eliminator Super Modified representative. Also, he is the head tech official at each event.
   The urge to compete in tractor pulling has fascinated Johnson since the day a friend encouraged him to enter a tractor-pulling event in Fredericksburg in 1974. Although his tractor weight of 1,300 pounds prevented him officially entering as a competitor, race officials did allow him to showcase his tractor in an exhibition pull. Afterwards, Johnson had found an avenue that he could both pursue his lifelong interest in mechanics, while surrounding himself with competitors who shared the same interest in tractors that he has. “After the race was over, I told myself, ‘man, I like this,’” Johnson said. “Its really a good feeling to know you’re competing against people who are just as good as you are. I enjoyed the feeling of making a piece of equipment that would not break under tremendous pressure.”
   In high school, Johnson amazed his classmates by building a motorbike, that he often road to school and work. Driven to build the bike at any cost, Johnson skipped lunch, and saved his money to purchase a three horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine, that cost $49.99, from Sears and Roebuck. The bike reached a maximum speed of 50-mph. Not only was the bike durable to handle street traffic, but also Johnson made sure the bike was covered by insurance, complete with license plates and title before entering the roadway.
   Throughout Johnson’s life, he has found satisfaction from defying the obstacles that sometimes accompany life, and hurdling them with the desire to succeed using his natural talents. After high school, and several failed attempts at landing a job in Dahlgren at NSWC, he decided to build a career foundation by entering the military. He also served his country in the National Guard for a brief period.
   Although the doors to employment at NSWC in Dahlgren remained closed, he was able to land a job at the Indian Head Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center, where he worked for 33 years.
   When Johnson is not building tractors or competing against rival pullers in some far away region in Virginia, he spends time with his wife, Phyllis. All three of their children are now adults. He also proudly serves Antioch Baptist Church in King George in the capacity of a deacon.
   The next tractor pull competition scheduled for Johnson will be on April 18, in Gordonsville, for the “Fun Pull” competition. Information pertaining to Johnson and the sport of tractor pulling can be accessed online at www.jamestjohnson.org.
   While the thrill of victory will always have a place in Johnson’s heart, the real joy is the camaraderie associated with networking with fellow pullers. “I pull for fun of it,” Johnson said. “I am not going to pull and work myself to death.”

Leonard M. Banks
Sports Editor

KGHS NJROTC claims Air Navy Rifle championship

Fox shooters showcase skills in national spotlight

 The King George High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) air rifle team won first place in the three-position sporter air rifle competition at the National Navy Air Rifle Championship held in Camp Perry, OH, on February 26-28.
The sporter team of seniors Sam Green and Matt Reed, junior Elizabeth Hampton, and sophomore Kimberly Heitmeyer fired the match on February 27 and 28, coming in first place with just ten points between themselves and the third place team.  The team of four, coached by Coach James Morgan and the KGHS NJROTC’s Senior Naval Science Instructor, CMDR Fred Duckworth, will be traveling to Fort Benning, GA for the Inter-Service JROTC National Championship on March 26-28.
   Sam Green earned 2nd place  in the  individual sporter category, after a shootout with another competitor in finals.  Finals is a match at the end of competition in which the top eight competitors fire 10 shots in the standing position, taking 75 seconds for each shot.  Finals are shot to break ties between shooters and to establish the best shooter.  Sam also tied the Navy National record of 197 points out of 200 in prone.
   During the awards banquet, Matt Reed and Elizabeth Hampton received their Distinguished Junior Medals for marksmanship.  Elizabeth Hampton accumulated enough Excellence in Completion (EIC) points prior to the Navy Nationals and Matt Reed earned enough EIC points during the match in Camp Perry.
Junior Caitlin Hendrickson was the sporter alternate and earned 4th place among 19 shooters.
   A team of junior Christopher Braccini and freshmen Alessandra Williamson, Matthew Ritenour, and Russell Ryder fired in the precision air rifle category.
JROTC programs have shot air rifle since 1996.  They hosted their own matches until 2002 when the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) organized the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps JROTC championships into Eastern and Western Regionals to be followed by Nationals.  The Air Force’s air rifle program joined the CMP matches in 2008. 
   This year, with the completion of an air rifle range at Camp Perry, Ohio, which also hosts the National Matches in pistol and small-bore and high-power rifle.  The CMP began hosting Service Nationals individually and then sending the top four teams in both sporter and precision air rifle categories from each service to Fort Benning, GA for Inter-Service Championship.
   Sommer Wood, a program manager for the CMP summer programs, explained that Theodore Roosevelt founded the CMP in 1903 after he noticed a lack of marksmanship among civilians during the Spanish-American War.

By Christopher Braccini

Challenger baseball fever is back

   On March 28, a sea of red baseball uniforms will take the field at the new baseball field, on the grounds of Sealston Elementary School. The Challenger Red baseball team will formally introduce the new complex to the world of little league baseball by showcasing their skills in front of a crowd that will include the Baltimore Orioles mascot, “Big Bird,” various King George County government officials, and a host of former King George high stars and adoring fans of America’s greatest pastime.
   On the following Saturday, the Challengers will take their show on the road to Barnsfield baseball park for the opening day of King George Little League Baseball. Throughout the season, the Challengers will play two games a week against local and Maryland area teams. Games will be played in Sealston, Barnsfield and in Maryland.
   The Oriole Advocates, out of Baltimore, Maryland is huge supporter of the Challengers program. Most recently, the Oriole Advocates assisted the Challengers with a financial grant. The Oriole Advocates was established 48 years ago as a sports boosters club, whose goal was to support organizations that are related to little league baseball, and sports organizations that are need based. Currently the organization is made up of 100 men and women volunteers from all walks of life, with a common love of the game of baseball.
   Each season, the Baltimore Orioles baseball organization traditionally hold various promotions, where members of the Oriole Advocates hand out bats, hats, mugs, and balls before they enter the stadium [Camden Yards].
   Other charitable efforts by the Oriole Advocates include: the restoration of the Babe Ruth Museum, Little League Clinics, Junior Orioles, Hit and Run League and the Cardboard to Leather program. The Cardboard to Leather program promotes baseball internationally by providing baseball equipment to third world countries. Since the program’s inception, the Oriole Advocates have donated 40 tons of baseball equipment outside the United States.
   The King George Parks and Recreation Department [KGP&R], under the direction of Director Tim Smith will coordinate the festivities associated with the grand opening of the venue.
   Although the Challengers kids are afflicted with physical and mental disabilities, they are a competitive team, made up of athletes with a sincere love for the game of baseball. Baseball allows them to express their ability to compete in an competitive environment where they will be treated on the same level as any other kid. “We play the game of baseball the way it was meant to be played,” said Challenger coach Linda Davis. “Last season, every single one of them could hit a thrown pitch, which in Challenger world is phenomenal. Three of my players can knock the ball over the fence.”
   Although parents of the Challenger players have pitched in to help with post game picnics, the Challengers are in need of volunteers that are willing to coach and assist the team during practices and games.
   Now that season is nearly here, rival baseball teams should beware. The Challengers are mentally tough and given an opportunity, they will surprise you with hustle—and a basic instinct to win. “I often tell people, we’re going to see you on the baseball field and beat you,” Linda Davis said.

Leonard M. Banks
Sports Editor








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