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Welcome!

Thanks for joining us! We write about sports, food, life and anything else interesting here in Ashburn and Loudoun County, all while cramming as many features into the site as possible.

Our staff consists of one old man and a dog named Maggie The WonderBeagle. Want to know more? Click on the icon below:

About Us

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Podcast 3: Ricky Don't Lose That Number...To Call Into The Podcast

Episode 3 of our podcast is now complete, and it features the man who is most responsible for us diving into the podcast end of the pool.

That would be Ricky LaBlue

Ricky is a great young sports journalist and is representative of the field his generation has to play on: being a writer, being a broadcaster via podcasts, and being a social media personality to engage readers and subscribers.

I've always felt comfortable writing, but wasn't sure I had the technological capabilities to do what I think makes a great podcast: the ability to talk with another person or two all while making it not sound like one of you is in a studio and the other is using a string and a tin can a few blocks away.

Ricky pointed us in the right direction to set all that up, so it was only natural that he be the first guest. We of course talked about Virginia Tech, but even got to tell a few stories, one that even involved Clemson Coach Danny Ford and two half gallons of vodka.

Spoiler: Danny won the drinking game.

So give it a listen. Search for “The Old Man And The DD” on just about any podcast app to find us, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts in addition to several more. We do all our podcasts on  Anchor, so you can either listen on their app, or you click and subscribe here.

When you're done with that, check out Ricky's work at the LaBlue Review and his podcast work at Hokie Hangover.

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There Are Some Hokie Memories That Just Last Forever

I have to admit, I’m getting tired of all the negative Virginia Tech stories. I understand they need to be written, and I’ve written several myself. But it’s a rainy Wednesday that’s probably going to turn into a rainy Thursday, so I’m ready to read something positive.

As noted in a previous post, I was digging through the basement for some old newspaper clips involving Wichita State Coach Gregg Marshall last night. Having found what I was looking for, I returned to the basement this morning to put them away. In the box I was returning these artifacts to was the program you see to the right.

Which sparked one of the greatest Hokie memories I’ll ever have.

That game back in 1995 wasn’t one filled with joy and anticipation. My wife and I had sat out in the rain the previous week against Cincinnati, a miserable contest where Virginia Tech didn’t even score. They were 0-2 after losing to Boston College in the opener, and there were even grumbles in the car driving to Lane Stadium that we may have wasted a bunch of money for these season tickets if they were going to continue playing like this.

As history will note, the Hokies bounced back in this game, beat Miami, and would not lose the rest of the season, winning 10 straight and culminating in a program-defining win over Texas in the Sugar Bowl.

But that’s not what made the day special.

As I noted in a different story the other day, the world was not only given the likes of Chase Elliot in 1995, but also received a beautiful baby girl born to a single mother in Eastern North Carolina. She would later become our daughter, but it was not without some legal issues that made for more than a few sleepless nights for my wife and I. We had hired a lawyer to help us get through all these issues, and as we were driving from High Point, NC to Blacksburg, my Leroy Jethro Gibbs-style Motorola Startac flip phone rang.

We were on I-77 closing in on the North Carolina/Virginia line, and it was the attorney. She had good news, explaining that the last of the paperwork had been completed Friday, and everything was in order so that Monday morning, we could go get our new daughter and bring her home with us.

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Just Because You Can Combine Ingredients Doesn't Mean You Should

An old friend once called it culinary sky diving, and I’ve practiced it more this year than I ever have.

It’s the art of going through the refrigerator, seeing items that may end up going to waste, and figuring out what combinations you can put them in that the residents would enjoy.

As I was also reminded by this chef, just because you can put ingredients together doesn’t mean you should.

Today’s items were 3 strips of bacon in a Ziploc bag that were starting to get pushed to the back of the refrigerator (this is how stuff in my house dies; no one throws it out, but newer stuff gets bought, is put on the shelves, and the unwanted food ends up in the back corner of the middle shelf). There were two hots dogs that no one seemed to like, a tomato just on the verge of AARP membership, and some homemade cole slaw that was made last week.

With visions of big overstuffed sandwiches from the New Yorker deli in Roanoke, I fried the bacon, sliced the tomato, and chopped the hot dog into small slices. That would make it easier to both put it on a sandwich as well as dole out the proper renumeration for my sous chef, Maggie the WonderBeagle.

A bed of cole slaw was put on one side with the hot dog slices, everything else went on the other side.

Was it good? It was OK. The satisfaction came in knowing it was out of the refrigerator and that Maggie thought I was the best Dad ever after getting her fair share 😊

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The Issue Isn't Forgetting Sarah; It's Remembering Gregg

About 10 or more years ago, there was a movie out called “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

These days, however, my issue has become “Remembering Gregg Marshall.”

I pride myself on remembering all sorts of sports minutiae and it’s not unusual for me to hear a friend say “how do you remember that from so many years ago?” The only thing I hear more is “why can’t you remember what I asked you to do as well as you remember sports trivia” from one member of my household.

Which brings us to Gregg Marshall. He’s the embattled coach at Wichita State who has been quite successful in the world of college basketball. Many times on social media when his name comes up, it is noted that he grew up in Roanoke, a town I have a lot of fondness for, as I met my wife and started my sports journalism career there.

I'm also hopelessly addicted to a sub sandwich from the New Yorker Deli on Brambleton with extra cole slaw on it. But I digress. 

Each time Marshall's name comes up, I think for a moment and have zero memory of him. I can remember about 100 other athletes I covered during that time of my life. But no Gregg Marshall.

Last night there were stories of Marshall’s problems in Wichita on social media. Again, there was the mention of him being from Roanoke, so I went to Wikipedia to see if they mentioned when he lived there. Turns out he graduated from Cave Spring High School in Roanoke County in 1981.

This sparked more curiosity. From 1978 until 1981, I was the high school sports guy for the Roanoke Times. My wife went to Cave Spring. We even got married in Roanoke in 1981. I was in Roanoke for every game of his high school career working for the newspaper that covered his school and district.

Still no memory of Gregg Marshall.

So at close to midnight last night, I went down into the basement and found a big box that has been stored away and untouched for decades. Somewhere in this box were a bunch of clips from all my newspaper jobs, something I had no need to ever look at again after leaving the profession in the late 80s.

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Podcast: Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Another Football Coach

We’ve now recorded and published our second podcast, this one being entitled “Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Another Football Coach.”

After we did the first one last week, I wondered to myself where we’d get the material to talk about anything for at least 30 minutes. After Virginia Tech lost to Liberty Saturday, that no longer became an issue. I think you could talk for days about all the issues that people are complaining about after that loss. I don't know if this episode will end up being as entertaining to you as it was to me, but it was like 35 minutes of therapy.

I now feel much better :)

As I also mentioned last week, we sort of rushed the first one out so we could make sure we knew what we were doing in terms of publishing a podcast. We got some of it right, but had a technical issue or two and even embedded a commercial…but didn’t hit the right button to get it to play.

That’s all fixed now. The other reason we rushed just to get anything up was the company that hosts our podcasts – Anchor.fm – distributes the podcasts to a variety of places to make it easier to subscribe. That takes a couple of days, so for this edition, you should be able to search “The Old Man And The DD” on just about any podcast app and find us, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts in addition to several more. And of course Anchor has it’s own app to listen on. Just subscribe to our podcast and you're automatically notified of new episodes.

If you’re not all that familiar with podcasts, you can click here and it will take you to the Anchor website where you can listen.

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There Is ONE Good Thing About All The Unrest In VT Athletics

While things are not a lot of fun these days in Blacksburg, there is one good thing about all the unrest around Virginia Tech athletics: You get to hear from all your old Hokie friends.

They all want to know the same thing. What the heck is going on?

Then there are the two friends I’ve known since my freshman year: Bob and Doug. The three of us have seen every twist and turn there has been involving Virginia Tech. Bob and I drove 12 hours to New Orleans to see Michael Vick and the Hokies in the national championship game. Doug and I flew to Chicago, rented a car and drove to South Bend to see Virginia Tech play Notre Dame for the very first time.

We’ve followed the Hokies for so long, we’ve gone from being able to fit in those narrow seats in Cassell Coliseum (it was actually just the Virginia Tech Coliseum for a couple of years before being renamed for Stuart Cassell) to growing to the point of being uncomfortable in those seats, to now seeing Hokie leadership show some compassion and just make the seats bigger.

We’ve seen coaches fired, coaches hired, buildings built, crushing defeats, and wins that made us disturb the neighbors with our celebrations. We’ve followed the Hokies through divorces, deaths of friends and family, and a variety of moves by the three of us to different parts of the country.

Together, we’ve seen fire and rain.

So it was no surprise I heard from Bob yesterday. It was his question I found unusual.

“Just wanted to check in on you and make sure you’re OK,” Bob said.

Why would you be concerned about that? I replied.

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Superintendent Williams Leaving Loudoun County Public Schools

As if there hasn’t been enough change around here in 2020, it looks as if Loudoun County Schools will soon be naming a new superintendent.

Eric Williams has been the head man since July of 2014. But a press release by the school system tonight announced Williams was named as the sole finalist for Superintendent of the Clear Creek Independent School District (CCISD), a district serving 42,000 students in the Houston, Texas, metropolitan area. By comparison, that’s about half the size of LCPS, which has 83,000 students in 94 schools.

Being a sole finalist is like running unopposed, so the job is his. The only thing keeping him from accepting the job are Texas regulations that say once you name someone a sole finalist, you must wait a minimum of 21 days before making the announcement of the appointment official. With today being Nov. 9, Texas has to wait until the end of the month before the job officially is offered to Williams.

Texas officials have made no announcement of a start date.

“Dr. Williams is a dedicated and passionate leader, and we will miss his service and advocacy for all students,” the press release quotes Brenda Sheridan, Chair of the Loudoun County School Board. “He effectively promotes high quality teaching and learning while working  to build an inclusive, safe learning environment with high expectations for all students. It has been my honor and privilege to serve on the Loudoun County School Board during Dr. Williams’ entire tenure as Superintendent.”

Once the appointment is official, then LCPS can go about the process of looking for his replacement. As this is a high-profile position in one of the country’s wealthiest and fastest growing counties, I’m sure it’s going to take a while before they complete the process.

“Parents can have confidence that the entire LCPS team that they know and trust with their children’s education will remain focused on providing equitable, caring and engaging learning experiences for our students,” Sheridan said in the press release. 

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Never Give Up, Because You Never Know How The Story Will End

I have to admit, my interest in auto racing has dimmed with each passing year to the point that I rarely watch it unless it’s a major event. Even then, it’s more background noise or an option on the second or third television for something to check on when the main event is on a commercial break.

But yesterday’s race where Chase Elliott won the championship was pretty cool.

I say this for reasons that have nothing to do with racing. When Chase opened his visor on the cool-down lap and you could see the look in his eyes, it reminded me of a conversation with his father 35 years ago, and echos a story I tell all my young friends when they tell me it's too late in life for them to keep pursuing their dreams.

It was a hot August day in 1985 when I was sitting on the inside retaining wall of the pits at Martinsville Speedway, waiting for a fairly grumpy Bill Elliott to come talk to me. I was the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin, and it should be noted that Elliott had previously always been one of the nicest guys in stock car racing. The next year, in fact, he would return to being the nicest guy on the circuit, and even mentioned when I was doing an interview with him in 1986 that he was sorry how he’d been the previous year.

That’s because in 1985, Bill Elliott transitioned from genuine nice guy to the face of NASCAR for the season. He won 11 races and 11 poles. Winston sponsored the series and had developed a promotion called the Winston Million for winning three races, and Bill would go from being “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” to “Million Dollar Bill” after eventually winning the third at Darlington. But that day, Bill was testing in Martinsville, trying to get every point possible in his pursuit of the season’s championship.

It was on that day, I got to see firsthand what fame can do to you. It’s not like Bill was an unknown by any means, and before the season, he was like just about all the drivers on the circuit: Friendly, down to earth, a straight shooter.

He was not a Darrell Waltrip with a gift of gab that would go on forever, and given the choice of being in front of a camera or having an iced cold Coke in the Dawsonville pool room, would always choose the pool room. He never, however, made you feel like you were bothering him. It was one of the great appeals of the sport, and I consider myself lucky to have had the chance to cover racing back then when the people around it were so real.

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I Don't Think We Should Be Considering Amputation. Yet.

It’s highly unusual I write on any subject for three days in a row. But I keep seeing this sentiment of “Fire Fuente” on social media, and I just have to address it in more than a couple hundred characters.

First, I understand the emotion to get on the phones and ask fans for millions of dollars to make a change.

Second, it’s a really bad idea.

I will acknowledge that Saturday’s game moved me from the “Fuente can be a good long-term coach for Virginia Tech” to “He’s never going to be more than a C-minus kind of guy in Blacksburg." But we’re like a patient who has finally realized their knee has been torn up so bad over the years, something needs to be done to possibly return it to the form of younger years.

The first step is not to amputate it.

You’re also calling for people to give money in the middle of a pandemic where discretionary funds are historically at their lowest in most households. It’s also 6 weeks before Christmas. You're going to ask people to skip out on buying a few extra presents for family so they can throw a few C-notes into a fund to hire someone you don’t even know who it is?

That’s the problem with these kinds of things. When the phone rang back in the early 2000s asking for some money to make sure we had a pot of gold to keep Frank Beamer from going to Alabama, my answer was an immediate yes. I knew what I was getting for my money: An established coach who loved Virginia Tech, had recruiting connections in every high school in the state and had just played for a national championship in the last few years.

I mean, who wouldn’t say yes to that?

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For Virginia Tech, It May Be A Case Of Kill...Or Be Killed

Last night, I posted something about the state of the Virginia Tech athletics program after yet another depressing loss by the football team, and in doing so, committed a sin I have often scolded others for doing.

I identified a problem, but I didn’t offer any solutions. And as even Maggie The WonderBeagle knows, anyone can complain. But it’s all just mindless noise if you don’t talk about how you’re going to fix it.

I’ve never been an athletic director, but I’ve been a businessman for many decades and the challenges the Hokies are facing right now aren’t that different. You have a product that was once thought of to be in high demand and of great value, but now the product is faltering. The lack of enthusiasm and the eroding perceived value of ticket price to experience are serious trends that can throw many a company up on the rocks.

Which is why you always have a Plan B. It happens eventually to everyone.

So what would I do if I were AD? I can tell you one thing you should not do: Change coaches. That’s admitting defeat as well as signaling to everyone that rebuilding is coming and people need to be patient. People are tired of being shut in their houses during this pandemic, they’re cynical and they are in no mood for a “be patient and one day all will be well” speech.

I mean, look at the Washington whatever they’re called in the NFL. They’re on year 37 of their rebuilding. Big chunks of their fans are no longer being patient. They’re also no longer being fans of the team.

What you should do, however, is recognize there is a problem and come up with short-term moves to try to shore up confidence the athletic department at least knows what it’s doing. They cannot afford to be as tone deaf as they were yesterday, as after the crushing defeat, season ticket holders and Hokie Club members got a renewal email asking that fans pay up for 2021 season tickets BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

That’s rubbing salt in the wound, as well as making people think “do these people even have a clue?”

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With The Way Things Are Going, Do The Hokies Have A Plan B?

Back in 2018, you could see the beginnings of a worst-case nightmare emerging for Virginia Tech athletics.

Whit Babcock had been hailed as some sort of wunderkind athletic director, based mainly on two hires: basketball coach Buzz Williams, and a year later, football coach Justin Fuente. Buzz quickly got to work, winning 20 games in his second season, and Fuente got off to a similar fast start, coaching mostly Frank Beamer’s recruits to a 10-4 record, a division title, and a narrow loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship game.

The future looked bright, and Babcock got a disproportionate share of the credit. “In Whit We Trust” people were saying, and it was because their superstar AD had righted the ship and was going to lead the Hokie athletic program to heights never before seen.

Whit was personable, good behind a mic, and clearly loved the spotlight. He was a spender and a big-picture guy who much preferred talking about building new facilities and hiring new coaches. Rolling up his sleeves and figuring out a way to fix the Hokie Club website to make it more user friendly for people wanting to give money, or increase the strength of the WiFi at Lane Stadium to attract younger fans, were not as interesting to him.

Of course, he didn’t have to do it himself. He just had to make it a priority and assign it to someone else and hold them accountable. And as long as the two pillar sports of fundraising – football and basketball – kept winning, it didn’t matter. Whit hired them and if needed, he’d hire more good coaches. If something went wrong, by God, Whit would figure it out.

In Whit We Trust, after all.

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