(Updated 9:55 p.m.) Marymount University is developing plans to build a new sports facility on an embattled parcel of county property near its campus.
Currently, the property at 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive, in the Old Dominion neighborhood, is home to a temporary road salt storage “dome” and a parking lot used for mulch distribution. In 2019, despite opposition from some neighbors, the county demolished a roughly 90-year-old water storage tank, repurposed for road salt, which was on the brink of collapse.
Now, Marymount University, which was recently ranked for the first time as a national university and is showing other signs of growth — including higher enrollment rates, new softball and wrestling teams and new academic majors — is trying its hand at redeveloping the site.
The school, which has its main campus across from the county property and an additional presence in Ballston, first put forward a plan for the property two years ago. It proposes to build a sports field, a children’s playground and an enhanced walking trails to Missionhurst Preserve, according to a map on the university’s website.
In addition, it would replace the existing temporary salt dome with a new, solar-powered one, along with a mulch area.
A little less than a year ago, it also put forward a proposal to build new diamond fields where the Washington-Liberty High School baseball diamond in Quincy Park and the softball diamond on school property are. Since then, it has been in talks with W-L, Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation.
Marymount has advertised an informational meeting on this proposal, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 29.
The university said in a statement to ARLnow that the session acts on a suggestion from Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz to “build consensus among community members and inform them of our proposed plans to create a generational green space for Arlington at 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive that would improve and expand recreational opportunities for the County’s residents.”
It added that the forthcoming meeting also acts on a suggestion from a neighborhood association to meet with the three impacted neighborhood groups together. Marymount says it notified and invited Schwartz and the Arlington County Board to the meeting.
“We have put a great deal of thought and consideration into both projects, but these are proposals,” the university said. “We are discussing them with the neighborhood associations to receive their feedback after repeated attempts were made to communicate with the County about them.”
But Arlington County released a statement this afternoon (Monday) to clarify it has not endorsed the project.
“The County and APS received notice of Marymount’s November 29 Information Session at the same time Marymount informed the general public,” the statement reads. “The County and APS are not associated with or participating in the November 29 Information Session and do not sanction the materials or proposals presented by Marymount University.”
Per the statement, members of the Arlington County Board and the School Board have met with Marymount over the last year, at the university’s request, to hear the proposed concepts.
“At those meetings, County and APS staff asked clarifying questions but no decision was reached,” the county said. “At no time did County or APS staff indicate that these proposed facilities were feasible or acceptable.”
They say baseball is a game of inches. Okay, maybe that’s football. But for one Arlington Little League team, this can be taken somewhat literally.
The Athletics (A’s, for short) are a team made up of players and coaches who have been together for as long as six years, very much a rarity in a league where players often find themselves with new teammates every season.
This means they’ve seen each other grow up, in literal inches, from five-year-old tee-ballers to 11-year-old grand slam hitters.
“I have loved to see the team grow and I feel like we’ve bonded and made a lot of good memories and friends together on this team,” 11-year-old Alex Ng told ARLnow, who’s been on the team since he was six. “Players have come and gone, but the heart of the team is really nice to be around.”
At this level of Little League (the “majors”) teams are drafted, with the most skilled players often going first as is the case in the professional leagues. But A’s coach Dan Uscinski, or “Coach Dan,” has decided that their draft strategy is different: Pick the kids who’ve played together on their team before.
“It’s not like this is a blockbuster squad that I’ve manipulated the system to keep them together,” he said. “I thought it was important for these kids to just keep the team dynamic together as long as possible.”
The kids come from schools across the county, including Fleet Elementary and Thomas Jefferson Middle. This fall, they are playing their games at newly-renovated Jennie Dean Park.
Most seasons the team loses just as many times as they win, but that’s kind of the point. The players are learning how to win — and lose — together while growing and developing as a team. And making long-lasting friendships along the way.
“We built a pretty fun environment for the kids as a team. Kids go out, play for each other, and they built friendships out of it because baseball is ultimately supposed to be fun,” Uscinski said. “I’ve formed friendships that’ll last a lifetime too.”
Maya Kaufman has been on Coach Dan’s team since 2017 when she was six. She said that because the team has been together so long, they all know what each other is good at and what they need to work on.
“Because I’m so close with all these people, we give each other feedback and can tell each other what we need to do [better]… we pump each other up, but help each other know that you could have done this better,” Kaufman said. “If I was on another team, that might not happen.”
One of her favorite things is that over the years they’ve been able to come up with “funkier chants” than other teams.
“A lot of other teams have generic chants,” she said.
Jason Kaufman is an assistant coach on the team (and Maya’s dad). He says that’s probably the best part of it all, the kids are having fun and learning what it means to be responsible to one another.
“They don’t always work hard, but they are always having fun,” he said. “And they are certainly accountable to each other.”
And, this past spring, something special happened. Getting over a slow start, the team finished with a winning record and got into the playoffs. Then, they rattled off a bunch of upset wins to get into the championship game.
“Then, we got our butts kicked,” Uscinski laughed.
Another Arlington Resident on Jeopardy! — Local attorney Luigi de Guzman will be a contestant on Jeopardy! on Friday, with host Ken Jennings. He’s the latest in a line of Arlington residents who have appeared on the long-running TV quiz show. [Instagram]
County May Be Sued By Contractor — “It looks like a raging dispute over payment for a now-completed major upgrade to Arlington’s Benjamin Banneker Park will be headed to court. Arlington County Board members on July 19 rejected a claim from McDonnell Landscape Inc., seeking reimbursement for costs totaling just under $995,000 for work it says was done as part of its contract to upgrade the park but it has not received. County Manager Mark Schwartz earlier had offered to settle the matter for $272,000, an attorney for the firm said, but that was turned down.” [Sun Gazette]
Baseball Tourney Now Underway — “Led by host team Arlington Post 139, the eight-team American Legion Virginia state baseball tournament is scheduled to begin this afternoon, July 26 in Arlington, with games at Barcroft Park’s Tucker field and Wakefield High School… Those eight teams all are scheduled to play again on July 27 at the two fields. The tournament continues through Friday, July 29, with the championship game scheduled for 4 p.m.” [Sun Gazette]
Local Man Charged in Alexandria Abduction — “A 29-year-old Arlington man faces a jury trial next month for allegedly robbing and assaulting his disabled ex-girlfriend in her West End apartment. The suspect has been held without bond in the Alexandria jail since his arrest on February 8. On February 1, a week before his arrest, the suspect allegedly forced his way into the woman’s apartment and removed her from her wheelchair, according to a search warrant affidavit.” [ALXnow]
It’s Wednesday — Rain early in the morning then cloudy throughout the day. High of 85 and low of 72. Sunrise at 6:07 am and sunset at 8:26 pm. [Weather.gov]
Photo courtesy Curt Cultice
Baseball Tourney in Arlington — “One area’s loss became another’s big gain in recent days when Arlington County was added as an emergency replacement site for this month’s American Legion state-baseball tournament. The eight-team competition, which will include local District 17’s Arlington Post 139 as the host team, will take place July 26-30 at the Barcroft Park and Wakefield High School fields.” [Sun Gazette]
Grant for Second Ballston Metro Entrance — From the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission: “[Arlington County] received $4.5M from I-66 Commuter Choice to construct a second entrance at Ballston-MU Station that will improve access to transit and support continued redevelopment in the area.” [Twitter]
More Whinos on the Way? — “Whino is a 6,300-square-foot bar, restaurant, art gallery and entertainment venue on the second floor of Brookfield Properties’ Ballston Quarter. While it’s only a year old, founder Shane Pomajambo has big expansion plans for his budding brand.” [Washington Business Journal]
Honor for Local Catholic Newspaper — “The Catholic Herald was named the best diocesan newspaper in its class — one of 36 awards received at the annual Catholic Media Association conference in Portland July 4-7.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Today in Dubious Data — “A new survey suggests that Virginia residents have a clear preference for their milkshakes. Chocolate? Nope. Vanilla? Negative. Strawberry? Sorry, Charlie. According to a statistical analysis of Google search data, Virginians are most enraptured by peppermint milkshakes, according to new data from RTA Outdoor Living.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Monday — Clear throughout the day. High of 82 and low of 65. Sunrise at 5:54 am and sunset at 8:36 pm. [Weather.gov]
An Arlington Little League team has made the state tournament, becoming one of few teams to have done so in Arlington history.
This past Fourth of July weekend, the Arlington Little League National 5070 All-Stars won the District 4 championship tournament, besting teams from across the region including Vienna and McLean. In Sunday’s championship game, the team of 14 players, ages 12 and 13 years old, defeated the Alexandria Little League All-Star team. They won by a score of 10 to 5.
The next step is the Virginia state tournament, to be held in Henrico just outside of Richmond, with their first game scheduled for this Friday. The coaches believe this is only the third team in Arlington Little League history to advance to states.
Both players and coaches told ARLnow that what made this team special was everyone’s dedication and buy-in.
“All 14 [players] bought into the team aspect of what’s best for the team as opposed to what’s best for them as an individual,” Manager Mark Nersasian told ARLnow. “We got contributions from top to bottom [of the roster].”
Thirteen-year-old Nate Moseley, who pitches and plays first base for the team and attends Dorothy Hamm Middle School, said that Nersasian and the other coaches often reiterate this concept.
“[The coaches] always tells us that we need players who play for the team name on the front, not the [last name] on the back,” he said.
That task was even more complicated by the fact the team has only been together for a few weeks. This is an all-star team, picked from more than 100 players across nine Arlington Little League teams. The team was selected, in large part, by their teammates and fellow Arlington Little Leaguers, with players voting on who they think should make up the squad. Coaches also contributed to the selection of the roster.
As expected, the players proved themselves to be some of the best ball players in Arlington. Assistant coach Keith Stone says the blended roster can sometimes be a challenge when dividing up playing time, but that wasn’t the case for this group of middle-school-aged athletes.
“Most of them were the best players on their regular team. They got brought to this [team] and they may only get to bat one time or barely get to play in the field. They all bought into the collective good for the team,” Stone said. “For 12 and 13-year-olds, that’s not always the easiest thing to do.”
This Arlington Little League team isn’t in the same age group as those that are on ESPN every year. This team is a little bit older, mostly comprised of 13-year-olds, as opposed to 10, 11, and 12-year-olds. Therefore, the Arlington Little League team plays on fields that are larger, have longer base paths, and pitch further away.
Dylan Stone, a shortstop and pitcher, has been playing baseball in Arlington since he was four years old. He’s now 13 and attends Williamsburg Middle School. What he loves most about playing in Arlington Little League is being able to “play with friends and the competition.”
The opening festivities are set to take place this Saturday from noon-3 p.m. at 3630 27th Street S. in Green Valley, down the street from Shirlington.
It will begin with a “mini-parade” featuring the Crossroads Riders Motorcycle Club and the Young Divas Dance Team, who recently performed at the opening of the John Robinson Jr. Town Square. The program will include remarks from Arlington County Board members and the Green Valley Civic Association, as well as a recognition of the park’s baseball history.
A number of the former semi-pro and amateur players who took their swings at Jennie Dean Park during the mid-20th Century will gather as well.
There will also be a ribbon cutting, a snow cone stand, food, music from JoGo Project, and a basketball tournament for teenagers, a county spokesperson tells ARLnow.
“Due to the projected weather forecast on Saturday with high temperatures in the mid-90s, a water fill station will be set up at the event with cold, filtered water,” the spokesperson noted.
The Shirlington Dog Park parking lot on the 2700 block of S. Oakland Street will be closed during the event, but the dog park itself will remain open.
More than two acres were added along with an updated, ADA-accessible playground that now has age-separated areas. The new restrooms are all-gender, in keeping with a county ordinance, and moved to the front of the park. The picnic shelter has a sustainable, green roof, which is next to renovated basketball and tennis courts.
The two baseball diamonds were moved out of the Four Mile Run floodplain and have new efficient LED lights. The fields are also now named after two long-time community stalwarts, Ernest Johnson and Robert Winkler.
The diamonds will also display pennants of historic Green Valley teams, designed in collaboration with the civic association, that played at the park over the last 70 years.
Along the sidewalks near the diamonds is a history walk, embedded with plaques marking significant moments in the park’s and neighborhood’s history.
There’s a new site-specific work of public art in the western portion of the park. Wheelhouse is a stainless steel multi-sectioned pavilion that “explores the industrial history of the Jennie Dean Park site through the lens of the great American pastime — baseball.”
The park is named after Jennie Serepta Dean, a formerly enslaved woman who opened the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth in the late 19th century.
It was initially set to reopen late last year, but permitting delays pushed it back a few months.
Up the hill from John F. Kennedy’s grave and behind Arlington House on the western side of Arlington National Cemetery lies the purported inventor of America’s pastime.
The former Union Army General Abner Doubleday is interred in section 1, laid to permanent rest there nearly 130 years ago. He’s one of more than a hundred Union generals that are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. While it’s his accomplishments during the Civil War that led him here, history remembers Doubleday much more for his perceived contributions to the game of baseball.
“I’m a big baseball fan. When I was growing up in the 1960s, the common view among the public was that this guy named Doubleday invented it,” says George Dodge, former Arlington Historical Society president and author of a book about the history of Arlington National Cemetery. “But that’s largely been completely discredited.”
Doubleday, a New York native, had a lifetime full of military experience. He was an officer in the Mexican War, fought in the Seminole War, and actually commended the gunners that fired the Civil War’s first shots at Fort Sumter. During the Civil War, he also saw action at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Bull Run, and Gettysburg.
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It was at Gettysburg where Doubleday was given command of the corps, when another general was killed in action, that helped to secure high ground. This ultimately led to the Union’s victory at the famed battle and likely turned the tide of the war.
“He has to be given some credit for that and I don’t think he does,” says Dodge.
After the war, he worked to help formerly enslaved people transition to a life of freedom, secure patents for San Francisco’s cable car system, and led a religious group devoted to spiritualism. Doubleday died in 1893 in New Jersey.
But before all of that, he apparently — according to legend — invented baseball.
The story goes that, while living in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839, a 20-year-old Doubleday drew a diamond in the dust and declared this was for a new game he called “base ball.” Along with a 1871 request for baseball-like equipment, this was enough proof for some that Doubleday invented baseball.
And, for the better part of the 20th century, this narrative existed — and, to some extent, still to this day.
Over the last several decades, however, historians have proven that Doubleday likely didn’t invent baseball.
The tale of him drawing a diamond in the dust was only first recounted via letter in 1905, more than 60 years after the fact, to the Mills Commission, a group that had been tasked to determine the origins of the great American game of baseball.
The letter was written by a man named Abner Graves who claimed he was there that day, but Graves would have only been 5 years old at the time. Additionally, it was unlikely that Doubleday was even in Cooperstown at the time. He was a cadet at West Point in 1839 and, even if he had returned home to see family, his family had moved to another village.
“They were looking for even the flimsiest of proof that [baseball] originated here in the United States,” says Dodge.
The more likely reason that this myth exists is that Doubleday represented a home run candidate — a respected Union Army general buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Columbus Day Closures — “Most Arlington Transit routes are closed, with the exception of routes 42, 45, 51, 55, 77 and 87, which will run on Saturday schedules. Parking meters won’t be enforced, but all other parking violations will be. The public schools will not hold classes; it’s a professional learning day for staff. Government offices and the public library are open.” [WTOP]
Local Yard Sale Funds Acts of Kindness — “Susan Thompson-Gaines is like a fairy godmother who magically appeared in Marjorie Gonzales’ life to help her conjure up a dress for the ball. ‘Just came out of nowhere,’ said Gonzales, who was in need of a homecoming dress… Thompson-Gaines uses every penny of her profits — more than $12,000 this year — to fund random acts of kindness throughout her community.” [CBS News, InspireMore]
Proposal for Better W-L Baseball Field — “This fall, Healy is working with director of student activities Carol Callaway on a project proposal that they hope to present to county officials in the coming weeks. His vision is of something similar to Waters Field, a multi-purpose artificial turf field that can host games for baseball and rectangular field sports and serves as a central hub in the Vienna community… ‘You could call it a total facelift,’ Healy said. ‘You name it, we need it. You can’t even stand up in the visitor dugout, and the press box is almost a safety hazard.'” [Nova Baseball Magazine]
GMU Groundbreaking Planned — “GMU plans to break ground on the nearly $250 million expansion of its Arlington campus in January. The primary addition to the Virginia Square campus will be the 360,500-square-foot home for the Institute for Digital Innovation (IDIA), its tech research hub, and the coming School of Computing… Bethesda-based Clark Construction will serve as general contractor on the project, which is scheduled to be complete by April 2025, with students moving in by July of that year.” [Washington Business Journal]
Changes Planned for GMU Plaza –“The ‘stay-the-course’ proposal will aim to make the large plaza fronting Fairfax Drive a more useful gathering space, perhaps with a café attached, while potentially adding a mid-level connection between Smith and Van Metre Halls to effectively combine them as one. That was the vision outlined by Gregory Janks, who has led the 18-month planning process for the three main Mason campuses.” [Sun Gazette]
New Art at Central Library — “Arlington residents and Library patrons are in for a visual treat when entering the second floor at Central Library. The newly installed artwork titled ‘North Lincoln Street, Arlington, Virginia’ by Arlington artist Jason Horowitz, features a playful, 360-degree view of a re-imagined Ballston neighborhood landscape.” [Arlington Public Library]
Marymount 5K Race on Wednesday — “Marymount University Doctor of Physical Therapy program hosted the first Marymount 5K in the spring of 2015… Join us in 2021 for the sixth annual Marymount 5K supporting the DPT Program’s foundational pillars of Global Perspective, Service to Others, and Intellectual Curiosity.” [Marymount University]
Nearby: Shooting in Arlandria — From Alan Henney: “500 blk of Four Mile Rd off Mt. Vernon Ave in the City of Alexandria. 15 yr-old boy shot in stomach taken to a trauma center in serious condition. Several suspects fled the scene on foot.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Local Org Resettling Afghan Refugees — “Besides Lutheran Social Services, the [Arlington-based] Ethiopian Community Development Council, the International Rescue Committee, and Catholic Charities do a lot of work to resettle Afghan [Special Immigrant Visa] holders in this area. Christy McCaw of African Community Center DC Metro, the ECDC’s resettlement branch, says her organization needs leads on apartments that will rent to newcomers without proof of income.” [Washingtonian]
Broken Water Main Causes Pressure Problems — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services yesterday: “A crew is stabilizing a broken water main that has caused pressure issues in the vicinity of Campbell Elementary School along S. Carlin Springs Road. Pressure should be returning to normal within the hour. Traffic diverted around work site. The break is on a 20-inch main. Greatest impact of pressure loss along Carlin Springs Rd from Rt 50 south to Columbia Pike and near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and George Mason.” [Twitter]
New W-L History Marker Under Consideration — “Four years after the installation of a marker celebrating the history of Washington-Lee High School was scotched by leaders of the county school system, a proposed revised marker – honoring the school now known as Washington-Liberty – is wending its way through the development process.” [Sun Gazette]
Next Community Convo with Police Chief — “Join Chief Penn and members of ACPD at the next Community Conversations with the Chief to share your thoughts on the future of policing in Arlington! Our next conversation will take place on Friday from 10 AM to 12 PM at Metro 29 Diner located at 4711 Lee Highway.” [Twitter]
Huske Signs Sponsorship Deal — “2020 U.S. Olympic medalist [and Arlington resident] Torri Huske announced that she’s signed a swimwear deal with TYR on Friday, making her the third high-profile swimmer set to begin their freshman year of college to do so. Huske, 18, will join Stanford University in the upcoming collegiate season. Terms of the deal have not been made public.” [SwimSwam]
Youth Baseball Team’s Championship Run — “Overcoming four tournament losses, the 9-under Arlington Storm Black managed to finish second in the Babe Ruth World Series. The Storm lost in the ultimate title game of the baseball tournament in Jensen Beach, Fla., by a 7-3 score, to Florence, Ala. The meeting was the fourth between the teams in the competition. About 90 minutes earlier that same day, Arlington had previously routed Florence, 11-1, to force a playback game between the two teams in the championship round.” [Sun Gazette]
Reminder: N. Glebe Road Closure — “All lanes of N. Glebe Road between Military Road and Chain Bridge Road, in the northern tip of Arlington, [are now] closed for construction… The nine-day closure is the culmination of the $10 million rehabilitation project for the nearly 50-year-old bridge over Pimmit Run, just before Chain Bridge. Between Friday, Aug. 13 and Monday, Aug. 23, crews will work to replace the entire bridge deck and its underlying beams.” [ARLnow]
Mistargeted Alert Wakes Up Arlingtonians — Numerous Arlington residents from around the county erroneously received an emergency phone alert about a boil water advisory in Northeast D.C. around 2 a.m. Thursday morning. [Twitter]
Huske Talks About Olympic Experience — “By coming so close to winning an individual medal, then earning a second-place silver on a relay team, Torri Huske’s rated her recent swimming experience at the Summer Olympic Games as a success for the 2021 Yorktown High School graduate. ‘It was all a really good learning experience, and I took a lot away from the Games, like needing to work on the little things,’ Huske said. ‘The swimming was different that anything I had been to before because it was spread out over nine or 10 days. I’m very thankful for what I got to do.'” [Sun Gazette]
Amazon Pushes Back Office Return — “Amazon.com Inc. revised its back-to-office timeline again and told employees it wouldn’t resume regular in-person work until Jan. 3, according to an internal message viewed by the Business Journal. The company had set Sept. 7 as the official return date, after announcing it expected employees to be in the office at least three days per week.” [Washington Business Journal]
Youth Baseball Team in Nat’l Championship — “I write to congratulate our 9YO Arlington Storm Black team on finishing runner-up in the Cal Ripken World Series! No team in [Arlington Babe Ruth’s] 36-year history has had as successful a season… We could not be prouder.” [Twitter]
ACPD Again Holding Community Police Academy — “The Arlington County Police Department is now accepting applications for the 25th Community Police Academy (CPA), formerly the Citizen’s Police Academy. The CPA is an educational program designed to create better understanding and communication between police and the community they serve.” [ACPD]
The team, dubbed the Arlington Storm, is headed to Florida’s Treasure Coast today (Wednesday) to compete for the national title. The trip comes after winning the Virginia state championship and the Babe Ruth Southeast Regional Championship last week in Snow Hill, North Carolina.
“We’ve got some really good ball players, [and] they’re becoming really good teammates, most importantly,” said team captain Jeff Groharing, who is an attorney with the Department of Justice by day, and a baseball coach by morning (practice starts at 7:30 a.m. daily).
The boys will face several other teams from across the country in a series of games leading up to the championship on Thursday, Aug. 5.
“I’m burning up all my leave, but there’s no better way to spend it,” said Groharing, who says the kids have been having a whirlwind of a time since they won regionals.
After their victories the team received encouragement from Rep. Don Beyer and even visited the U.S. Capitol and met with Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.
“Getting attention from the Senators is neat for the boys,” Groharing said. “Both Senators Warner and Kaine seemed to enjoy spending time with the boys as well.”
Congratulations to Arlington's @arlstorm @ABRarlingtonBB Babe Ruth League all-stars, who became district champs, state champs, southeast regional champs, and now get to go to the Cal Ripken World Series, the farthest an Arlington team has ever advanced! We're rooting for you! pic.twitter.com/4d0D1jVf6R
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) July 20, 2021
Groharing started coaching the team when his son, who is on the team, was 7. He says parents love sending their kids to practice because they start their days early and learn values, such as teamwork and discipline.
“I don’t think they realize how much of an accomplishment it is for them to get it this far,” he said.
Arlington was well-represented down in Florida last weekend by another youth sports team. The Arlington Soccer Association’s team of 15-year-old boys won the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships on Sunday, and three players received individual awards, we are told.