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School Without Walls honors varsity athletes

(Published July 2, 2001)

By ANDREW BRODHEAD

Staff Writer

School Without Walls is better known for its academic than athletic performance, but the Northwest Washington high school has been making steady progress at building its sports programs.

Seventy-nine athletes, many who played multiple sports, were honored recently for their athletic achievements during the 2000-2001 school year at the school’s second annual sports banquet.

Tommy Taylor Jr., among the alumni in attendance at the June 22 event, noted the progress the athletic program has made in recent years.

"One thing that has gradually gotten better is the athletic program," said Taylor, who just completed his sophomore year at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "Whether or not we have the best record in the city, that is not the point. It is that we have the biggest heart."

Varsity athletics are a fairly new phenomenon at School Without Walls. The school enjoyed newfound success when the baseball team qualified for the playoffs for the first time and the swim team placed second overall in the city championships and won the relay race championship. Baseball MVP Ben Tansey, a pitcher, will attend Grinnell College in Iowa on a joint academic and athletic scholarship

The boys basketball team completed only its second year in D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association play, and it was the first year the tennis team competed in varsity sports. Isiah Pickins was one of the leaders of the team and won the MVP award. Ronald Jackson took home the Rookie of the Year Award and Nathan Cox took home the Most Improved Player Award.

"What you don’t see are the gentlemen that go out with a lot of heart every game. These guys are the true sportsmen because regardless of the walls they had to overcome, they always played with 100 percent intensity. These are kids that you can tell younger kids to follow their example," said head basketball coach Richard Gould.

Next year the soccer team will join forces with Duke Ellington School of the Arts in an attempt to field a championship caliber team and challenge the city’s soccer dynasty, Wilson High. They had a talented squad this year that was led by Rafael Vasquez, who was the MVP.

Senior Garret Wilson won the city championship for skiing and sophomore Ashley Robbins, who attends School Without Walls but plays basketball for Coolidge, has already set the city record for most three pointers and has two more seasons left to play.

School Without Walls struggles to compete with larger public schools because the school does not have any of its own athletic facilities. The school is trying to work out an agreement with George Washington University for its basketball team to practice and eventually play games there.

"We need money because every successful program begins with money and facilities," said Gould. "We only had an ‘away’ jersey. Recruitment will have to start. When we have facilities and money ,things will look better for the future."

At the closing of the awards program, cheers and applause of dozens of students, staff and family filled the cavernous walls of the room as they honored longtime faculty member Millicent Jackson for her contributions to the School Without Walls athletic program.

Friends, faculty and her daughter praised Jackson for her tireless effort in heading both the athletic department and the physical education department for six years. This year Jackson stepped down as athletic director and serves only as the head of the physical education department.

The following students received awards at the banquet.

Athletic awards for soccer went to: Dylan Butler, Cyrus Hampton, Elio Cruz, Ben Haily,

Nicolas Kamon, Justin Eldridge, Rafael Vasquez, Alex Buchner, Juan Medrano, Joshua Wolfe, Hans Buchner, Garreth Edwards, John Simera.

The Swimming team finished 1st place in city relays and 2nd place in city meet. The following athletes received awards for swimming: Stephanie Alexander, Katrina Paz, Hans Buchner, Lloyd Brown, Anaid Gonzalez, Elizabeth Bott, Alex Buchner, Mary Limehouse, Ariel Farrar-Wellman, Zhi-Hong Tan, Sabrina -Snell, Caroline Harn andYang Xu

The softball team was led by Stephanie Alexander, who received the Most Valuable Player Award. The following athletes received awards: Also honored were Leila Lugue, Latoya Royal, Rashaun Armstrong, Leah Medina, Erial Tompkins, Brook Ellis, Katrina Paz, Sheena Wilson, Tiffany Jones, Olushola Pyne and Chaquita Valentine.

Cheerleaders who received awards were Shawntia Alexander, Tiffany Arrington, Tia Pitt, Darria King, Niya Davis, Annalisa Gnoleba, Ashley White, Tenellia Collington, Akia Jordan and Tierra Ford.

The ski team was led by city champion Garrett Wilson and most valuable player Juan Medrano. The following skiers also received awards for their season: Jennifer Price, James Davis, who received the Coach’s Award, Micheal Billups, Justin Eldrige, Jun Kiriyama and Bianca Gray.

For track, Arthur Abrams was MVP and Latoya Royal was the Most Improved Runner.

The following people received awards for tennis: Allen Yu-2nd year award, Minowa Melvin-3rd year award, David Mack, Ling-Yan Chen, Richelle Chapman, Fei Zhang, Tanisha Williams, Zhi-Hong Tan and Jeremy Bombberg won the 3rd year award.

The following people won awards for golf: Shawntia Alexander, Deandra Duggans, Nicole Aiken, Annalisa Gnoleba, Danielle Davis, James Davis II, Joi Nash, Michael Billups, Chelsy Briggs, Jean Francois Adeliou, Andrea Hudson and Joshua Anderson.

The following people won awards for soccer: Dylan Butler, Cyrus Hampton, Nocolas Kamon, Justin Eldridge, Shelton Goodwin-Offensive Player of the Year, Alex Buchner, Juan Medrano, Rafael Vasquez, Hans Buchner, Garreth Edwards, Justin Eldridge.

The following people received awards for baseball: Rafael Vasquez-Defensive Player of the Year, Hans Buchner, Garreth Edwards, Ben Tansey-MVP, Elio Cruz, Justin Eldridge, Joshua Wolfe, John Simera, Juan Medrano, Ben Hailey, Lloyd Brown, Earl Davis, John Graves, Dylan Butler, John Simera, Nick Barbash, Andre Lindsey and Michael Hansborough received the Charlie Hustle Award.

Students recognized for their basketball performance were John Graves, Richard Lee, Ronald Jackson-Rookie of the Year, Jason Bailey, Nathan Cox- Most Improved Player, Vincent Manning-Letter of recommendation for McDonalds all American Team, Justin Eldridge, Stephen Reaves, Ben Tansey, Isaiah Pickens-MVP, and Shelton Goodwin.

Copyright 2001, The Common Denominator