Behind veteran production, softball sees series win as turning point by The GW HatchetApr 16, 2015 “Media Credit: Kiana Robertson | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Sophomore Megan Linn gives her teammates high fives in a game against Saint Louis on Sunday. Linn has a .310 batting average this season and has scored 33 runs.
As the second Colonial in a row struck out swinging in the bottom of the fourth with the team trailing 4-2 Sunday afternoon against Saint Louis, the softball team looked poised to continue its streak of inconsistency and drop another Atlantic 10 series.
The Colonials had won eight straight non-conference games heading into A-10 play but were stymied by league opponents in late March. Games against La Salle, Saint Bonaventure, Massachusetts and George Mason left GW with a weak 2-7 A-10 record and dwindling confidence as the team prepared to face the Billikens (24-14, 9-5 A-10).
For that reason, Sunday’s come-from-behind, 9-5 rubber match decision was more than just the Colonials’ first conference series win. It also showed what the young team is capable of when guided by offensive veteran leadership, especially in close contests.
“I think this is the most proud of any team I’ve ever coached right now. This moment,” head coach Stacey Schramm said. “This whole first half of the season has been so frustrating because that’s the team I know they can be. I’m glad we finally showed it.”
The 20-player roster, including 13 underclassmen, combined for 43 runs in that eight-game stint prior to league play, but dipped to a combined 22 runs in nine games against tougher A-10 opponents. This weekend, however, the Colonials were able to rally around a strong offensive effort by team leaders, totaling 20 runs across three games.
After conceding another run in the top of the fifth, which left the Colonials down three, senior shortstop Tori Valos spurred the inspired comeback in the bottom half of the frame with a two-run single off a gritty at-bat.
“This is our turning point as a team,” Valos said. “There’s just a link that hit all of us today that just brought us all together.”
In addition to improved play over the weekend, several upperclassmen have had impressive turnarounds since last season’s disappointing 4-12 A-10 finish.
Schramm said it was “really important” for younger players to see the leaders playing well.
“If they see Tori struggle, they feel like, ‘If she’s struggling then I’m going to be struggling,’” Schramm said.
Senior catcher Samantha Dos Santos would then reach base on an error before she and Valos were both brought home by freshman Alana Anderson to take a 6-5 lead. Dos Santos, who finished last season with a .186 batting average, the team’s lowest, is currently one of the team’s top-five hitters along with Valos, who adds a .365 average, a team-high 36 RBI and a resilient mindset that’s rubbing off on her teammates.
“Tori, even today in the huddle or whenever we were talking, said she never gives up on us. Everyone top to bottom was really working hard today,” said sophomore Bradleigh Breland, who scored twice Sunday.
Junior Carlee Gray, who posted the team’s second-worst batting average last season, has also hit her stride. The first baseman is posting a team-high .371 batting average, good for ninth-best in the A-10, and co-leads GW with 39 hits.
The explosive fifth inning was capped off with a two-run homer by junior Morgan Matetic to put GW up three. Her powerful shot to right-center symbolized both a personal triumph and, the team hopes, the turning of a page on its up-and-down season.
“[Matetic] has been really struggling and she finally broke out of it. I think everyone was almost in tears in the dugout when she hit that out,” Schramm said. “She just fought, had a ton of grit and just wasn’t going down. That’s the mentality we’re getting from everyone now.”
The team's energy was evident after the win, but Schramm said that though the confidence level is high, GW must continue to stay focused. From here on out, the Colonials must “treat every game like it’s an A-10 Tournament game” to maintain momentum, Schramm said. Consistent production has also come from the team’s two top sophomores, Breland and Megan Linn. The two weapons are the only underclassmen hitting above .300 and each had a game-high four hits Sunday. And coupled with veteran hitters leading by example at the plate, the season is finally looking up for the Colonials. The Colonials resume A-10 play on Saturday at noon when they kick off a three-game road series against first-place Dayton.”
Sophomore launches location tracking app to help friends connect by The GW HatchetApr 16, 2015 “Media Credit: Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor
Eytan Nahmiyas, an international business major from Turkey, and his business partners collaborated with coders overseas to create Radius, an iPhone app that allows you to track your friends' locations within 500 feet.
For one sophomore, pulling an all-nighter means monitoring servers and video chatting coders in India.
International business major Eytan Nahmiyas, along with his childhood friend and cousin, launched a location tracking iPhone app called Radius last week, which allows users to see when their friends are within 500 feet. Each user's profile image appears in a bubble on a map, which helps them see if their friends are close by and makes it easier to schedule plans, Nahmiyas said.
Nahmiyas thought of the idea for the app last year as he was adjusting to life at GW and trying to connect with his new friends. The app already has about 500 users, according to its Facebook page.
“I was eating at J Street all alone, the sad college kid hoping one of my friends would come around,” he said. “I said, ‘I wish there was a way to contact them without texting each and every one of them.’”
He said what sets Radius apart from other location-based apps, like Foursquare, is increased privacy options. Users can add or block whichever friends they want and only receive notifications about the people they choose without those people knowing.
He began working on a plan for the app during his first semester, before flying home to Istanbul, Turkey for winter break where he learned that his childhood friend had been trying to develop a similar program. The two decided to collaborate and then asked Nahmiyas’ cousin to join them.
The three students pooled their personal savings, which added up to about $3,500, to outsource technical development of the program to amateur coders in India. Over the next year, Nahmiyas said working with the coders was like being in a long-distance relationship.
“At 2 a.m., we would get on Skype [in] our boxers and start talking,” he said. “It was like cooking a cake, but on the phone, so you had to tell them every single thing, like ‘This is how you crack open an egg.’”
Tali Salhon, Nahmiyas’ cousin and a sophomore at Georgetown University, said the first version was a “failure” and didn’t work properly.
The partners had exhausted their money for the project and began looking for funding from dozens of Turkish venture capitalists, who criticized everything from the design and technical details to the lack of a user base and revenue model.
“A lot of venture capitalists weren’t attracted to us because we were three 19-year-olds working from our dorm rooms,” Salhon said.
Eventually, they collected enough money from family and friends to hire lawyers and professional coders, who made some of the changes that investors had suggested. Salhon and Nahmiyas declined to say how much money they raised.
Nahmiyas said the app is not yet bringing in much revenue, but said investors have become more interested since its launch. He said once he graduates, he wants to expand by setting up an office, hiring employees and creating a version for Android phone users.
“For the first time, there’s something I did that has this big potential. My partners and I are all on this, so no one’s slacking,” Nahmiyas said. When not buying new servers or meeting with investors, Nahmiyas said he is often reading business books and magazines or boxing to blow off steam. He said sleeping only four hours a night helps him balance a full-time startup with his classes and social life. “There are no limits, you can’t just say, ‘Oh, I worked five hours today,’” he said. “It’s never enough. If I wasn’t stressed, it meant that things aren’t going well.””
Staff Editorial: Don't abandon hope for GW's long-term plans by The GW HatchetApr 13, 2015 “Just a few years ago, GW was moving full speed ahead. Between 2011 and 2013, the University broke ground on the Science and Engineering Hall, started building District House, finished renovations to the second floor of Gelman Library and finalized the 10-year strategic plan.
Back then, GW’s priorities were focused on growth and innovation, and it’s clear officials had high hopes that their plans would fall into place.
It’s hard to believe, given that enthusiasm, that we’d be where we are now, just a few years later. The University might still be in a forward-thinking mindset, but recent news of staff layoffs and a campus-wide budget crunch – caused by a dip in graduate enrollment – tell a different story.
The admission rate just soared to the highest it’s been in a decade – about 45 percent – in an attempt to bring in more revenue. This week, the University announced that it had eliminated 46 employee positions. And the music department is still reeling from the announcement that it would be cut nearly in half.
A lot of the conversation surrounding GW’s financial woes has been focused on these day-to-day impacts on student, faculty and staff. Those stories may make it seem like the world is crashing down around us, since they feel more tangible in the context of our own lives. Couple that with the somewhat uncertain future of the strategic plan, and it feels hard to bet on GW right now.
In December, the strategic plan was cut by $8.2 million. Then the University announced in March that specific parts would be delayed , making it one of the most prominent items on the chopping block when it came time to address the budget crunch.
But in the long term, there’s no need to panic. Students, faculty and staff should keep in mind that the headlines don’t always give the full picture of the state of GW – one that’s actually more stable than scary.
The strategic plan has only been in place for two years, and though it has suffered some temporary damage, there’s still plenty of time to implement it. In fact, officials have accomplished a fair number of the goals laid out in the plan already.
For example, the University removed some academic requirements to make it easier for students to apply to GW and transfer between schools once they get here. It has developed several programs to boost international student enrollment, loosen GW’s ban on classified research and develop interdisciplinary programs like those dealing with big data analytics.
And in the past academic year, the University has hired new deans in its three biggest schools who can play a major part in implementing other aspects of the strategic plan. All of these hires come with good track records, clean slates and fresh ideas that can boost programs that have been suffering.
Perhaps the college that’s been hit the hardest is the GW School of Business: The school will feel the effects of the budget crunch, but in addition, former dean Doug Guthrie was fired in 2013 after the school overspent by $13 million during his tenure. Until now, the school hasn’t had a plan to pay back the deficit, leaving its new dean, Linda Livingstone, in a uniquely scary position.
But GW revealed just last week what sounds like the best plan for paying back that deficit – it will be split, right down the middle, between the business school and the provost’s office. If anything, that shows that one of the biggest problems that plagued her predecessor's tenure – miscommunication with administrators – could perhaps be avoided in the future.
Although the business school is in a tepid spot, it now has a measured action plan to pay back the deficit. This plan can serve as a clean slate, leaving Livingstone with an opportunity to turn the worst situation into one of the best by pushing her school into the future and serving as a confident leader.
If Livingstone helps the business school to bounce back, she has the chance to set an example for her fellow deans and for the rest of GW. The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Robin Jones Kerr and contributing opinions editor Sarah Blugis, based on discussions with managing director Justin Peligri, sports editor Nora Princiotti, design editor Sophie McTear, copy editor Rachel Smilan-Goldstein and design assistant Samantha LaFrance. Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.”
Gymnastics ends top-notch season with help of talented rookies by The GW HatchetApr 13, 2015 “Media Credit: Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer
The Colonials finished one of the most successful seasons in program history on April 4 in Auburn, Ala. The gymnastics team won the EAGL Championship and had an All-American athlete for the first time in its history.
The Colonials’ season came to a close two weeks ago in their first NCAA Regionals appearance since 2002.
A team that head coach Margie Foster-Cunningham said had “hung in there for years as an academic institution” competed on national television in front of thousands in a cavernous arena at the University of Auburn in Alabama.
Only Auburn and Alabama, both top-10 teams, advanced to the NCAA Tournament from the event. But the Colonials finished one of the best seasons in program history at 22-8-1.
They were spurred by a crop of high-profile rookies who came to GW in part because of an increase in funding for the gymnastics program under athletic director Patrick Nero.
“That money allows us to be in the game with the best students and the best athletes, and that’s what you’re seeing here. It’s a different recruiting game for us now with that money,” Foster-Cunningham said. “You’re seeing what fully funding a sport can do. I don’t know how to say it any other way.”
The program has increased the number of scholarships it can offer from six to 12 since Nero came to GW in 2011. Last season was the first year the team gave out 12 scholarships.
The money helped attract high-caliber talent like Jillian Winstanley, who was named the East Atlantic Gymnastics League Rookie of the Year.
Freshmen were responsible for 14 of GW’s 25 recorded scores at the NCAA Regionals. One of them, Cami Drouin-Allaire, advanced individually to the NCAA Tournament with a score of 39.175. She became the first All-American in GW Gymnastics history at the end of the regular season. She was named to the All-American regular season second team, which means she ranks between the ninth and 16th best gymnasts in the country.
Drouin-Allaire particularly excelled in vault. She posted a near-perfect season-high 9.95 on vault twice, first against Towson on March 15 to help the Colonials set an all-around program record with a score of 196.875, and also at the EAGL Championships on March 22, which the Colonials won for the first time in program history.
The Colonials’ narrow edging of the University of New Hampshire at the EAGL Championships came down to their entirely underclassman bar lineup, including four freshmen.
As they hit their routines, the four senior members of the squad watched their younger teammates fight for the title that would define their senior season, and erupted into cheers when they realized they had done it.
“We all just started crying. It was amazing. It was truly a championship moment that you dream about, and for me, that was the best moment of my gymnastics career,” senior Elena Corcoran said. “We worked so hard all year, and to go in and prove that this team is really different than it has been in years past at GW. It was really amazing.”
Freshmen replaced upperclassmen gymnasts in lineups throughout the season. The oldest gymnast to compete the entire season in the all-around was Chelsea Raineri, a sophomore. But Foster-Cunningham said the seniors still had the ears of the underclassmen on the team, even if they were producing flashier results compared to their older teammates.
“The seniors are like that map you look at when you walk into the mall and it says, ‘Here you are, where do you want to go?’” Foster-Cunningham said. “The seniors know how to read that map. The freshmen really are learning those things so I value my upperclassmen greatly.” The season may be over, but the team’s rise seems likely to continue. There’s more talent coming in: Foster-Cunningham referenced a recent commitment but couldn’t name names because the athlete hadn’t signed yet. And this year’s young standouts have already benefitted from a year’s experience in college. “I’ve been here for 30 years, but this is the beginning,” Foster-Cunningham said. “We’ve been building this for a really long time, and Patrick [Nero] and President Knapp kind of came along at the right time. We’re ready for this and we have the foundation to do it, and now we’ve got the athletes and it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun.””
From sixth man to starter, Watanabe reflects on rookie season by The GW HatchetApr 10, 2015 “Media Credit:
Freshman Yuta Watanabe played twice as many minutes as any other GW rookie this season, averaging 7.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
It was the first game of the season, and the Colonials had hung a fresh new flag – white with a red circle in the center – from the railing in front of the student section.
Yuta Watanabe, the fourth-ever Japanese-born player on a Division I basketball team and a GW rookie, trotted out onto the hardwood and sank his first official three-pointer as a college athlete. The crowd erupted, yelling “Yu-ta, Yu-ta, Yu-ta.”
The chant would become a Smith Center staple during Watanabe’s first year at GW. The 20-year-old freshman was thrust into a high-stakes situation, where he was asked to be a key contributor to a team that was coming off an NCAA Tournament berth and trying to make its first repeat appearance since 2007.
The Colonials didn’t make it, instead losing in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament to top-seeded Temple. But Watanabe earned his keep for much of the year as the team’s sixth man, and moved into the starting lineup toward the end of the season.
“I feel like I had a great experience as a freshman. The coach gave me a lot of minutes to play and I really appreciate that,” Watanabe said. “Our goal was the NCAAs and we didn’t make it, so I wanted to play there, but I really [got] a lot of experience.”
Over the course of the season, Watanabe averaged 7.4 points and 3.5 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game – more than double the minutes of any other rookie on the team. He shot 38 percent from the field overall, 35 percent from three-point range and a team-best 83 percent from the free-throw line.
Watanabe's maturity and silky smooth jumper had him taking on more duties than most first-years: He made many of the team’s technical shots and started in GW's last 10 games.
While adapting quickly on the court, Watanabe leaned on his older teammates, especially junior forward Kevin Larsen.
“Many people gave me advice, but especially Kevin talked to me a lot,” Watanabe said. “Especially when I had a bad game, like a few in a row, Kevin often texted me like, ‘Are you OK? What are you thinking? What are you feeling?’ So Kevin really helped me.”
Watanabe absorbed Larsen's advice. For example, the third-year told Watanabe to switch his in-game celebration from an awkward jump to the Carmelo Anthony three-finger symbol or a classic fist-pump.
“I feel like it’s my responsibility to help the new guys get accustomed to the college basketball level,” Larsen said. “That’s what teammates are there for.”
It wasn’t Watanabe’s first experience learning from older teammates. When he was 18 years old, American coach Tom Wisman asked him to join the Japanese national team. A high school junior, Watanabe’s father had to sign off for his son to try out.
He placed third with the team at the 2013 East Asian Basketball Association Championship for Men and ninth in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship as the youngest member of the squad by three years.
It became clear that he would merit attention from American colleges, so he went to prep school at Saint Thomas More Academy in Oakdale, Conn. to work on his English and basketball skills while getting recruited. That's when head coach Mike Lonergan noticed the skinny, 6-foot-8 wunderkind with a strong perimeter game.
“I love Yuta. His best days are ahead of him,” Lonergan said. “Just like his one year at prep school, he started off as a good player, and by the end of the year, he was First Team All-Conference in a pretty good prep school league. I think Yuta’s adjustment has been great. He’s got great teammates and he’s a very focused young man.”
Still, there were some bumps along the way. Watanabe had great stretches in December and January, scoring in double-figures for six straight games, but struggled later in the season and he fell into a shooting slump by February. In a 14-game stretch from January 15 to March 4, Watanabe never reached double figures.
During that time, it looked like opposing teams had begun to scout him better as a shooter and Watanabe was becoming tentative with the increased attention to his game. At 193 pounds, the lanky forward struggled against more muscular opponents inside, and when defenders began following him out to the perimeter, he was left with a limited arsenal of offensive weapons.
“I need to be a better player,” Watanabe said. “I think I did well this season, but [at] the end of the season, my percentage with three pointers was going down and I had some bad games, so I’ve got to gain weight more, I’ve got to be stronger and I have to make more shots. So I have to practice more.”
That kind of level-headed self-critique is typical for Watanabe, who said he “didn’t feel any pressure” from the attention of media and fans. Japanese media were present at most GW games, and Watanabe was featured in the Washington Post and the New York Times .
Watanabe, who said he wants to play in the NBA someday, comes from a family of basketball blue-bloods from Kagawa – his mother, father and sister all played professionally in Japan. He is a household name back home, where the Japan Times nicknamed him “The Chosen One.”
Watanabe said he watches Japanese comedy shows and hangs out with his teammates in his spare time. He said fellow international students like teammates Larsen of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Mar del Plata, Argentina-native Patricio Garino have helped him adjust to life at GW.
Now, part of that life is being a fan favorite. After a midseason game, a group of giggling female students waved to him from the sidelines in a chorus of “Hi, Yuta” before scampering away. Watanabe grinned and nodded bashfully. With his first college offseason ahead of him, Watanabe said he is focusing on bulking up. For him, the freshman 15 might not carry such a negative connotation. “I eat a lot. I’m skinny but I eat a lot,” Watanabe said. “If [people] knew that, they would be surprised.””
DMV rising: How local youth, hoops culture is boosting the college basketball scene by The GW HatchetApr 06, 2015 “Updated: April 6, 2015 at 1:39 p.m.
The Washington Post’s "D.C. Sports Bog" writer Scott Allen had one assignment for the Jan. 22 Wizards’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder: talk to Kevin Durant fans.
The game was an overtime thriller, featuring a posterizing dunk and a contested three-pointer by the Suitland, Md. native. The highlight for Allen was a makeshift Durant jersey that had the player's name in duct tape – one of the many signs of the “KD2DC” movement.
If Durant ever played for the Wizards, Nike billboards likely wouldn’t welcome him home like LeBron James in Cleveland, but District residents would.
“I’m not a Wizards fan, but I’m a Durant fan,” said Darian Bryant, a Bowie, Md. product and GW rookie. Another local player, sophomore Nick Griffin, added, “Oh, this whole area would go crazy, man.”
If Durant were to return, he would see that in the last decade, the college basketball scene has significantly grown in the DMV. In 2006, DMV teams averaged 3.45 local players on their rosters. In 2015, they averaged 3.63, an about 5 percent increase.
The big three – Georgetown, Maryland and Virginia – all went dancing this year as high seeds with high hopes. Across the board, colleges in the region, like GW, have had successful seasons in part because they have found a way to keep their talent local: A rise in DMV pride has coincided with an increase in Amateur Athletic Union teams, and showcases hosted in the area have helped coaches connect to younger student athletes and keep them in the region.
“The local schools are doing a good job of recruiting out here and selling them on the stay at home and get better,” said Brenden Straughn, an assistant coach of popular DMV AAU club Team Takeover.
Stars seek greener pastures
Durant committed to play college basketball at the University of Texas on June 16, 2005, according to Yahoo! Sports, just before a day of mourning for D.C. It was nearly 19 years to the day that the legendary Len Bias had died of a cocaine overdose.
The Maryland basketball all-time great and Landover, Md. native brought life and pride to the city’s basketball scene. He died June 19, 1986.
Media Credit: Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer
A local high school student dons Under Armour socks decorated with the Maryland state flag at the Metro Challenge 60. Under Armour is the official sponsor of the University of Maryland.
"After that, you probably had a lot of people who wanted to be the next Bias," Allen said.
After Bias' death, the D.C. area earned more national recognition as one of the country's top pools of talent, serving as home to the most NBA basketball players per capita. But very few of those talents stayed in the area after high school.
The first overall pick in the 1987 draft was future Hall of Famer David Robinson, a Florida native who went to high school in Manassas, Va. Two DMV products joined Robinson in the first round of the ‘87 draft: Muggsy Bogues and Reggie Lewis. Neither of the two had stayed in the area for college.
In the next four years, five players who were selected in the first round of their respective NBA Drafts came from the area, but rarely had the DMV-raised crop stayed home to play college ball. Jerrod Mustaf, who went to Maryland, was the lone exception among that group of first-rounders. The second overall pick in 1989, Hyattsville, Md. native Danny Ferry, went to Duke.
Durant in many ways followed in the footsteps of Bias: Both were second overall picks in the NBA Draft and harbingers of surges in DMV basketball pride. But Durant was still convinced to leave. Though Bias was the inspiration for many area players, the Terp was the exception, not the rule.
The culture shift came in the years just after Durant chose to leave.
It was the District’s time to dance: In that 2006 tournament, Mason made it to the Final Four with seven players from the greater DMV area, all of whom averaged more than 10 points per game. The Cinderella story of a group of kids from the Capital region chilled brackets and warmed hearts on a national stage.
Meanwhile, the Colonials qualified as an No. 8 seed in the tournament, winning their first-round game. As a No. 7 seed, Georgetown fell to eventual champs Florida in the Sweet 16.
In 2007, more pieces came together for the DMV.
Durant’s Texas lost in the second round to lower-seeded USC. Maryland was a No. 4 seed, losing in the second round to Butler, but not before defeating a Davidson team with a freshman sharpshooter named Stephen Curry.
That Terrapins team had seven DMV products, including star Greivis Vasquez, who spent some of his high school career playing with Durant at powerhouse Montrose Christian after moving to Rockville, Md. from Venezuela. The next year, the Terps would boast nine players from the DMV, a school-high for the past decade.
“He prided himself in finding the diamond in the rough, which just speaks to just how much talent there is,” the Post's Allen said about former Maryland head coach Gary Williams, who won a national title in 2002.
Williams was criticized later in his coaching career for passing up AAU-bred talent. Baltimore-born AAU Rudy Gay slipped past Williams, going on to lead Connecticut to the Elite Eight in 2006 and eventually become an NBA All-Star.
The Hoyas made their Final Four journey in 2007 with three athletes from the DMV: Roy Hibbert, Jeff Green and DaJuan Summer. All three would go on to play in the NBA.
The two successful years for the region were more of a lucky circumstance, signaling to others that they should recruit like that, too. The success of players staying in the D.C. area coupled with Durant’s budding superstardom got the DMV noticed as a true recruiting hotbed. Local coaches doubled down their efforts to use staying home as a recruiting point and stack their rosters with homegrown talent.
As the recruiting model began to change, with the introduction of more local-oriented showcases, the DMV institutionalized the system that happened to work in the mid-2000's through programs like Straughn’s AAU teams.
“I’m in that same kind of Durant age frame. A lot of the guys were leaving home, going to Carolinas, the Texases, the Kansas States,” assistant coach Straughn said. “But now with the Melo Trimbles and Dion Wileys, and guys at GW, the local schools, even Georgetown to an extent, guys are trying to stay home. It’s good for the area.”
Supporting, showcasing talent
Tree limbs swayed in the wind above empty courts and, in the suburbs, the snow was still solid on the sides of the streets by Holy Trinity elementary in Glenn Dale, Md. – about a 10-minute drive from the New Carrollton Metro stop.
Cars packed a parking lot by the school on a Saturday afternoon in February. Juxtaposed with the quiet suburb was a giant, white sports bubble, a pop-up structure used to host athletic events. Inside, student athletes in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades assembled for their respective DMVelite basketball winter league games. This wasn't a local rec league: These kids orchestrated every play, and they could dunk.
DMVelite was founded in 2008 and started producing talent for coaches on a regular basis in 2010. Chris Lawson, a longtime resident of D.C. and former coach of Bowie High School and various AAU teams, is the agency’s chief executive officer and founder.
“I just thought for so much talent here in our area, we could do more, locally, to support that effort compared to loading up the minivans and dredging across the region and getting on planes and all of that,” Lawson said.
More showcases are popping up to thicken the local web that connects college coaching staffs to talent, like the second annual Metro Challenge 60 at DeMatha Catholic High School, which took place in March. While area schools in the mid-2000s realized that local players were bringing success, showcases exist now because they serve as a place for coaches to actively seek out the players.
Media Credit: Samantha LaFrance | Design Assistant
“Even some of the smaller schools are still doing well,” said GW junior and Lorton, Va. native Joe McDonald. “I think they’re realizing that keeping the talent here, because there’s a lot in this Northeastern area, especially in the DMV area, so I think they are starting to recruit a little bit closer.”
A group of four scouts from services like ESPN and Rivals at the Metro Challenge 60 said that 50 of the 60 players were expected to go Division I. A couple were already committed: Anthony Cowan to Maryland and Corey Manigault to Pittsburgh (despite receiving offers from Georgetown, Maryland and VCU, among others).
Experts attribute Maryland’s success in the past couple years to landing big-time local recruits under head coach Mark Turgeon. Two key players on the team are Melo Trimble and Dion Wiley, both local players, who Turgeon said were a “priority to recruit.”
Turgeon said they have gained a following among local kids, and that their success could be a building block for landing more D.C. area talent.
“As all these local programs continue to experience success both as a team and individually, it can be beneficial for each of our programs residing in the DMV,” Turgeon said in an email.
For some like George Mason, which has experienced a well-documented fall from the team’s glory days in the mid-2000s, recruiting has faced major criticism. The Patriots fired their most recent head coach Paul Hewitt after another losing season and a loss in the first round of this year's Atlantic 10 Championship in Brooklyn, N.Y.
He spoke to the media after a loss to Fordham, saying he knew that he was in the hot seat.
“We’ve done a pretty decent job recruiting, but of course we’re going to look for where they have good players,” Hewitt said. “If that means coming back to New York, we’ll do that.”
This year, Mason had five local players on their roster, including one of their leaders, Patrick Holloway. The rest of the group was unable to produce. Most of the key contributors on the banged-up team were New York natives – a hard pill for fans to swallow after they were told that their backyards breed was the best in the nation.
And of course, the strength of local college programs impacts their ability to recruit and foster local talent. GW men’s basketball junior Kethan Savage, a Fairfax County, Va. native and former Team Takeover player, said that one supports the other.
“I’ve been in college three years now. I think now the college teams in this area have really picked up,” Savage said. “Georgetown has always been strong. But American [and] GW went to the tournament last year. Teams are getting better, talent is getting better, so I think it’s encouraging local talents to stay here.”
The men’s basketball team announced last week that Savage is looking to transfer from the program. Bryant and Griffin have also announced their intentions to transfer.
The fight for District supremacy
It’s tough to deny the potential of the DMV during a year when Georgetown, Maryland, Virginia, and VCU all went to the Big Dance, while GW and Old Dominion went to the NIT and American was one Patriot League win short of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament again.
But that talent is a double-edged sword. The recruiting scene is turning into a feeding frenzy among local teams as recruiting services direct all eyes toward the skilled players of the DMV, the gritty players of Baltimore City and the do-it-all sharpshooters of Northern Virginia.
“It’s just hard in this area to find a kid who no one knows about it. You can still go to other states and find those kids,” GW head coach Mike Lonergan said. “This area is so over-recruited.”
Top-tier programs in the area like Georgetown, Maryland and Virginia scoop up many of the best players. In the past decade, the Cavaliers have averaged just over two DMV players per season. This year, Virginia was led by Montrose Christian product Justin Anderson.
With the top talent claimed, it leaves programs like GW and VCU to try to grab the next best. Many mid-majors are doing well, but are being forced to reevaluate their strategies.
Media Credit: Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer
Coaches from various Division II and III programs attended the DMVelite showcase to scout out local talent that is still on the market.
American has maintained a couple local players on its roster, rarely fluctuating, while James Madison has not had a DMV player since 2011. Towson's number of local players has dipped to as few as two in 2013. UMBC has found a way to quickly fill up its roster with regional players, from one in 2011 to eight this past year.
“We already lost a kid to Virginia this year, lost a kid to Maryland,” Lonergan said. “It’s hard. It’s still hard to win those recruiting battles, but at least we’re in the conversation now. We just need to get some of those kids to believe in what we’re doing here.”
But a flourishing basketball culture can ultimately be one of the biggest tools for a coach.
Under Armour personally designs all of the gear for Maryland. The Terps football team adopted uniforms with the state flag printed on them in 2011, which sent social media abuzz and caught on with local kids. Head to a DMV youth basketball game, and teenagers will be sporting Maryland flag basketball socks. They also wear Durant gear – and many of the athlete's personal Nike line. GW is a Nike school, but Lonergan has even higher hopes for further branding the local culture. “Georgetown is Jordan brand and Maryland is Under Armour,” Longergan said. “I’d like to become a Kevin Durant school.””
Weekend Wrap: This weekend in GW sports by The GW HatchetApr 06, 2015 “Too busy experiencing Spring Fling this weekend to stay up to date with all things GW sports? We've got you covered.
Here's a sample of what happened around the bases and on the playing fields over the weekend.
After suffering its first conference loss of the season at the hands of La Salle last weekend, the lacrosse team (4-7, 2-1 Atlantic 10) bounced back Friday with a 13-9 win over St. Joseph’s.
Senior Rachel Mia led the Colonials with four goals, adding to a career total of 121, the third-best in program history. Sophomore Michaela Lynch also provided a hat-trick while senior goalkeeper Mackenzie Jones had eight saves to guide GW to the four-point victory.
The Colonials (17-15, 1-6 A-10) won two mid-week non-conference games against UMBC and Cornell, but dropped two of three to A-10 foe Massachusetts in a weekend road series.
Sophomore Paige Kovalsky threw a complete game and improved to 4-0 in the 6-3 win over the Retrievers on Tuesday, while senior Tori Valos drove in four runs in the Colonials’ 8-7 decision against the Red Storm.
GW fell 3-2 to the Minutemen in game one of a Saturday double-header, but exploded offensively in game two for a 9-0, five-inning win guided by three runs from sophomore second baseman Megan Linn. However, the Colonials bats cooled off Sunday, when they dropped a 4-0 decision for their sixth A-10 loss of the young season.
Following three consecutive losses, men’s tennis (8-12, 0-1 A-10) upset No. 61 UNC-Wilmington 4-3 on Saturday and St. John’s with the same score Sunday.
The Colonials rallied from 3-1 deficit in their outdoor home opener against the UNCW Seahawks. Senior Francisco Dias won out in the top singles spot 7-5, 6-4, while junior Cahit Kapukiran completed a come-from-behind three-set victory at the bottom of the ladder to ensure the win.
Although the top three singles players fell in their matches to St. John’s on Sunday, the bottom half of the ladder picked up the slack with three victories. Dias and freshman Chris Fletcher, as well as junior Danil Zelenkov and sophomore Julius Tverijonas, would also prevail in their doubles contests.
The gymnastics team made its 11th all-time appearance at the NCAA Regionals on Saturday for the first time since 2002. At the NCAA Auburn Regional, the team totaled 194.150 – the second-highest NCAA Regional score in program history – to finish in sixth place overall.
Freshman Second Team All-American Cami Drouin-Allaire became the second gymnast in program history to advance to the NCAA Gymnastics Championships as an individual qualifier, with a score of 39.175 in her individual all-around fifth-place performance.
Head coach Margie Foster-Cunningham was also named NCAA Southeast Region Head Coach of the Year after the meet. Foster-Cunningham led her team to a 22-8-1 record in 2015 and helped the Colonials capture their first-ever East Atlantic Gymnastics League Championship.
Men’s rowing competed against Cornell and Harvard in a series of races in Boston on Saturday, placing third in each contest. GW’s Varsity 8 finished the 2,000-meter course in 6:11:50, trailing first-place Harvard by nine seconds and second-place Cornell by five. The Colonials’ second Varsity 8 and Freshmen 8 would also both finish behind their Ivy League opponents. GW will host the 27th George Washington Invitational Regatta next weekend, facing off against Georgetown, Navy, Dayton, Gonzaga, Holy Cross, MIT, Saint Joseph's and Virginia in the two-day event.”
Staff Editorial: To ease J Street's problems, take a minimalist approach by The GW HatchetApr 06, 2015 “Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
The University's contract with its food provider, Sodexo, is up in 2016 – and everyone and their brother seems to have an opinion about it.
Campus dining came up consistently during last month’s Student Association elections, with four of the six candidates for top posts proposing ways to change or overhaul the system. Last week, campus activists started a petition calling for “real food and real jobs,” and the University sent out a survey to gauge students’ on-campus dining experiences.
But all this talk is predicated on the idea that GW needs a large dining hall. Simply put, it doesn’t. It’s an unrealistic and unnecessary goal to strive for, and it’s time we give up on the idea.
It’s time for the University to take a minimalist approach to campus dining. All students really need from a dining hall in Foggy Bottom is the basics: a few food vendors that meet their needs. GW can convert the remaining square footage into student space with a relaxed, lounge-like atmosphere.
Many have it in their minds that J Street should be a full-fledged cafeteria. That’s clear from the ample discussion about dining during the SA elections – SA Executive Vice President-elect Casey Syron, for example, proposed a move away from J Street’s current pay-by-weight system to one based on swipes.
But realistically, there’s no need for an elaborate dining hall when we have so many nearby food options and there are kitchens in most residence halls. Leave that to the Mount Vernon Campus, where the residents get their food almost exclusively at Sodexo-operated Zime and Pelham Commons.
If we continue to work off the assumption that the Foggy Bottom Campus needs a behemoth dining hall, J Street will fall short in comparison to more popular options like Whole Foods, Sweetgreen, the GW Deli and Chipotle. If the University lowers the expectations it has for the dining hall – to a standard more attainable – and aims to make it more useful for students, it may have a decent shot at ridding J Street of its negative reputation.
It’s obvious that dining at GW – specifically its cornerstone, J Street – is in trouble. Any freshman who’s been on campus more than a few weeks has already internalized that J Street is a dirty word. It’s been plagued by complaints about poor quality, high prices and unattractive food options.
J Street will never be the one go-to food option for students. The other options on and near campus will always be better and cheaper . And when District House opens in the fall of 2016, with its own food options right next door to J Street, that will be even more the case.
By no means is it time to completely eliminate J Street: GW still has a duty to provide its community members – students, faculty and staff – with on-campus food options, particularly niche ones. The University provides our bedrooms, recreational areas and study spaces. It should supply a dining space as well to round out our facilities.
On Foggy Bottom, GW should also fill in the gaps for students with dietary restrictions – like vegan students, or those who keep Kosher or Halal – while offering one vendor with solid lunch options and one that serves coffee. And keep Auntie Anne’s, of course.
It’s also important for the University to show prospective students – and their parents – that GW-sanctioned food can be purchased with Dining Dollars right in the center of campus. A dining hall is crucial to the classic college experience, and just because GW is a city school doesn’t mean parents who perhaps went to a more traditional college won’t be looking for one when they visit Foggy Bottom with their kids.
The University can serve that need and then some. If J Street were scaled down to provide just a few options, not only might it be able to extend its hours – none of the vendor are currently open on weekends, for instance – but the remaining square footage could be converted into student space.
Student space is one of those perennial GW problems. But imagine if what are now the under-utilized portions of J Street became coveted spots to study or meet for lunch. It could be a comfortable space with a coffee-shop vibe and maybe even a few pool tables – why not bring back the casual, fun atmosphere that left the Marvin Center when its bowling alley, the Hippodrome, shuttered in 2011?
A large chunk of what’s currently J Street could be a campus hub that tour guides show off each day, where students are seen relaxing and studying between classes or before meetings. Students come in and out of the Marvin Center constantly as is – it holds student organization offices, the bookstore, the Colonial Health Center, and financial and registration services. It could become an even more robust student center if it also had a relaxed atmosphere.
Regardless of the specifics, it’s essential that the first floor of the Marvin Center remains one for student use. If the University ever scaled down J Street, the leftover space absolutely should belong to students, who have been fighting for student space for years. It shouldn’t be turned into offices, be used as meeting space or serve administrative interests.
Conversations about how to “fix” J Street won’t be productive. Instead, let’s be clear about what we want from our campus dining in general: nothing more than what we need. The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Robin Jones Kerr and contributing opinions editor Sarah Blugis, based on discussions with managing director Justin Peligri, sports editor Nora Princiotti, design editor Sophie McTear, copy editor Rachel Smilan-Goldstein and design assistant Samantha LaFrance. Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.”
IT department fixes broken pound key on men’s basketball computer by The GW HatchetApr 02, 2015 “Reader's note: This story is satirical in nature and published in a spoof issue.
An IT employee said Wednesday that he finally fixed the broken pound key on the men's basketball staff's computer after it was stuck for an entire season.
The team’s Twitter account has been an inscrutable mess since November, featuring hundreds of what appeared to be hashtags but was really just the symbol followed by gibberish.
IT employee Nelson Wires said that after he toiled all night to understand the workings of the computer and other things the kids are into these days, the key should be fixed.
“We’ve been trying really hard,” Wires said. “Some might say we were trying too hard. Like way too hard – so hard, it’s getting a little ridiculous how hard we’re trying.”
Some affects of the broken key were hashtags of great length, like “#ClutchThreeFromDowntownLikeDowntownDCWhereWeAreRightNowGuysHowCoolIsThat,” while others were shorter and clearly didn’t need a hashtag, such as #twopointbasket and #pass. Sophomore Georgina Washington said scrolling through the tweets during games didn’t help her learn what was going on, and that she’s glad the IT department stepped in so she can finally understand the action on the court from her phone. “Well, I go to GW so I don’t really know any of their names, much less a nickname,” Washington said. “Honestly, I thought it was supposed to be ironic or that it was some kind of trivia thing.””
By transitive property, GW basketball better than Georgetown by The GW HatchetApr 02, 2015 “Reader's note: This story is satirical in nature and published in a spoof issue.
They say to be the best, you have to beat the best. So it holds that to be the best team in the District, you have to beat the team that beat the team that beat ... whatever. Sports doesn’t do math.
But we know that No. 2 seed Kansas lost to No. 7 seed Wichita State in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday in Omaha.
GW beat then-No. 11 Wichita State on Christmas Day in the Diamond Head Classic and on Wednesday, Dec. 10 the Hoyas were defeated, nay, embarrassed by the Jayhawks 75-70. That means that, by the transitive property, GW basketball is better than Georgetown. And that means the Colonials will definitely rank higher in the AP poll than the Hoyas next year. You heard it here first, but only if it happens. The Hoyas also lost in the Round of 32, so it doesn’t matter that they made the tournament because second place is just the first loser and nobody remembers teams that lose in the second round. Also because fuck you, that’s why. I totally could have gotten in there if I’d tried harder.”