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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:

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7-Footer Michael Durr Changes Mind, Reopens Recruitment

It was just last Thursday that I wrote this story about associate head coach Chester Frazier leaving Virginia Tech and returning to his alma mater, Illinois. In that story I noted how amicable the decision was, the great respect Frazier and head coach Mike Young had for each other, and how no one could begrudge him going back to the school he played at a decade earlier.

Despite all that, I did express some concern. “Why?” some people asked. I had two thoughts, but only answered with one. The first was when you lose a really good assistant, you have to replace them with someone just as good, and there’s no guarantee that will happen. In all my years in the corporate world, you were very good and very lucky if you just hit on 50 percent of the people hired that ended up being as good as expected. It’s just the nature of the hiring process.

What I didn’t say about what concerned me was this sentence in the story about Frazier: “His fingerprints are all over just about every one of the key recruits the Hokies have landed, and he’s liked by just about everyone.”

If you’ve had a hand in all the key recruits, that means just about all the key recruits expected you to be there when they arrived. If you were a deciding factor and you’re not there, there was a possibility that players could back out of their commitments, since whoever is the replacement isn’t going to know all the recruits.

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If You Give A Dog A Byline, You've Got To Let Her Use It

Saturday, my Daddy was talking about how he had set up five authors on this site, but only four of them were writers. He said he had set up a fifth account – which he called a “dummy” account – to experiment with things on his test server when it came to bylines, author bios and other things. He set the account up in my name.

Well, first of all, I ain’t no dummy. And if you’re going to give a dog a byline, you have to let her use it every now and then. So while he’s in some other part of the house doing something my Mom is always complaining about – I think she calls it “wasting time” – I’m going to borrow his keyboard and pound out a few paragraphs.

Today’s topic regards something I kept reading on Twitter yesterday while I was in Daddy’s lap. Because it was Mother’s Day, many people were referring to their dogs as their babies, and dogs were referring to their primary caretakers as their moms and dads.

This made others annoyed for some reason. Who thinks of their animals as their children, they asked, as if those who do have some mental ailment and need to seek professional help.

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Recent Comments
Dave Fulton

Stand Up & Be Counted

Maggie, glad you spoke up and didn't hide your light under a bushel. You better be careful talking about being a Hoo Man around yo... Read More
Monday, 10 May 2021 14:43
Maggie The WonderBeagle

I'm Not Scared

I let him think he's in charge. But I own him
Monday, 10 May 2021 14:59
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One Taught Me Piano, The Other Made Me A Musician

In doing my usual scrolling through Twitter this morning, I noticed a small tidbit wedged between the thousands of Mother’s Day messages: Today is also Billy Joel’s birthday. He’s 72.

In my world, I will confess, the two events together have personal significance.

I grew up in a house where you were going to learn to play a musical instrument whether you wanted to or not. We lived in a modest house, but it had two pianos, a large dual keyboard organ better than most you’d see at the neighborhood church, and a bunch of guitars, violins and other stringed instruments.

They were not there for decoration, either.

My mother was a self-taught music teacher, so at the age of 5, I was ordered to get up at 6 AM, practice for two hours, then get dressed and walk down the block to school. Another hour of this occurred right before dinner, and punishment was immediate if you chose (or tried to choose) not to practice. It was not a coincidence these practice sessions occurred right before a meal.

This went on until I was 13. To be honest, I hated it. My mother wasn’t very good at piano (she could teach but she could not play very well herself) and as we all go through that stage of our lives when we challenge authority, being forced into a piano-playing gulag for several hours a day seemed to be extremely worthy of being challenged. I tried a few times, but ended up meeting a large wooden spoon my mother kept around for cooking and discipline. I relented.

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The Nationals Are Positioned To Add Some New Blood

Washington’s roster construction has often been criticized this season, as they don’t have a proven left-handed specialist out of the bullpen, they only have one true backup infielder (aside from Ryan Zimmerman, who can only play one spot), and four of their five outfielders are left-handed. Few of them, it should be noted, are hitting well.

They recently designated for assignment Hernan Perez - who checked off two of the boxes above - but he was unproductive in the batter’s box in his short time with the Nats. His pitching appearances, however, were entertaining.

In cutting ties with Perez, the Nationals opened up a spot on their 40-man roster. They aren’t required to fill it, but it does present them with an interesting opportunity to fill one of their glaring voids.

The option to promote someone from within is always available, but truthfully, there isn’t a worthy candidate. The few players they could recall from the minor leagues are already on the 40-man roster, anyway.

Strictly in terms of offense, Jonathan Lucroy is still available and could provide some value. However, as a third catcher, he doesn’t fix any of the larger roster conundrums.

Albert Pujols was also recently designated for assignment by the Angels, but the last thing the Nationals need is another first baseman. There are some other players in “DFA limbo” that present some intrigue, though. Left-handed reliever Brandon Waddell was chiefly among them as recently as early Saturday afternoon, but the Orioles beat the Nationals to the punch, claiming him from the Twins and optioning him to AAA Norfolk.

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Soap Opera Appears To Be Continuing For MASN, FP

As the broadcasting soap opera continues involving whether F.P. Santangelo is in the booth from one night to the next, I have to confess a hunch I had last night.

UPDATE: My hunch was wrong. The Athletic is reporting the reason is because of a sexual misconduct allegation against FP. Here's the link to the story by Brittany Ghiroli.

Friday’s Yankees game was the first time the band was back together, as Bob Carpenter was doing play by play after over a week's vacation, FP was in the color commentator seat, and Dan Kolko was the sideline/dugout reporter. It all felt normal, as everyone was in the right seat, and the fact that the Nationals were simulating batting practice against Yankee pitchers just made for a nice, pleasant broadcast.

But there was a brief moment where I had to wonder. FP was launching into one of his typical stories, but started it with “now that Dan Kolko is a major league play-by-play man…” He and Carpenter typically have great chemistry to the point they can almost finish each other’s jokes, but in this case, Carpenter didn’t say a word. It’s like he wanted no part of this topic, and after a brief second of silence, they moved on to something else.

I don’t know what issues have kept FP off the broadcasts, and when I wrote this a week ago, my prime concern was that he might have had some health issue. The fact he was back and on the air earlier this week in the three-game series with the Braves kind of eliminated that concern, because he looked fine.

This would then sort of suggest if it’s not health, it’s an internal issue at MASN. After being admonished by one poster on a Washington Nationals Facebook Group for apparently not keeping up with prior posts on the subject, I went back and looked through earlier mentions.

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Wondering Where All These Stories Are Coming From?

Yesterday, we posted five stories on this site, covering topics such as the Nationals, Orioles, Capitals, Virginia Tech basketball, and Doug Doughty’s College Notebook, which is the longest-running weekly sports feature in the state. I even had two more stories I could have run, but I figured I’d save something for the next day.

Given where this site was six months ago, I’m justifiably proud. And just a little bit shocked how far the site has come in such a short period of time.

It all has turned, at least for now, because of reaching out and trying to help someone.

To give you some of the backstory, I started the site 15 years ago. Back then, everyone started sites with visions of glory, huge traffic and advertisers, and we were all going to be rich writing stories in our spare time on the sofa. That, of course, was temporary until the day we could quit our day jobs and be sportswriting ninjas who never shaved or even wore pants half the time.

That never happened, and at some point my focus changed. For a while, it was to write about local sports to fill the void of many weekly newspapers disappearing (the site is named after the local high school sports district), but I learned a hard lesson about parents of kids in sports: some are never satisfied.

Even though I was cranking out stories, statistics and live scores on Friday nights, parents who read a site that never charged a penny still thought it was OK to email me and tell me what an awful thing I was doing by not paying more attention to their offspring. In 2012, I even shut the site down for a few months I was so fed up with it.

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A Story Of Hiking, Determination And Giving Others Hope...

Nothing could have been more breathtaking than the view of Sharp Top and Round Top on a recent April morning.

It was worth a stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where a story was unfolding that easily could have been missed.

Willing to share her tale was Elizabeth Pearch, a 56-year-old grandmother from Eagle River, Alaska who was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

She had taken a break to adjust her equipment at the Taylor Mountain overlook, where the elevation on the east side is 2,340 feet, high enough to view the Peaks of Otter to the east in nearby Bedford County.

Her trek had started in the fall, when she flew across the country from Alaska to Raleigh, N.C., where her daughter, Josie, lives.

Josie subsequently joined her mom and they hope to arrive in Waynesboro in the near future.

After that, mom Elizabeth has plans to hike the remainder of the way to Maine.

"Southern Virginia is no joke," said Elizabeth, whose voice was muffled by Taylor Mountain's whirling wind during an impromptu interview. "There are a lot of 4,000-[foot] peaks there. It's kind of nice being in central Virginia."

She had started out in March at Massie Gap in Grayson County.

"When I first started out, I was lucky to go four miles a day," continued Pearch, who says she was 100 pounds overweight when she started her journey and subsequently has lost 20 pounds. "Now, I can do between eight and 11 miles [a day]. I'm really progressing well."

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With Frazier Gone, Hokies Need To Make Another Big Hire

I’ve long since given up worrying about which player is arriving or which player is leaving when it comes to Virginia Tech athletics. I’ll wait until the particular sport starts its season, and then worry about who is on the field or court at that time.

But today, Virginia Tech’s basketball program lost associate head coach Chester Frazier to Illinois.

THAT, I'm worried about. 

The move makes a lot of sense for Frazier, and it is a very amicable parting. Frazier played at Illinois a decade or so ago, so he's getting a chance to go home. No one can begrudge that, and everyone associated with the program is happy for him.

But Frazier filled one huge void when Mike Young was hired as head coach, and he made the transition so seamless, you could make the case that Frazier has been as important as Young in turning the Hokie basketball program.

If you remember back when Young was hired, the biggest concern was recruiting. Could Young, an older coach, connect with younger recruits and get them to come to Blacksburg, people who look a lot like me wondered. Young almost immediately hired Frazier, and I remember being extremely impressed because the hire was not a fellow assistant he had a history with that would make Young more comfortable in his new surroundings.

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The Curious Case of Kyle Schwarber in D.C.

Kyle Schwarber has two of the Nationals’ most memorable hits this season. Yet, the totality of his play has fallen well below the team’s expectations.

Once signed shortly after Josh Bell – who has also seen his fair share of tough times in Washington – to serve as the thump in the middle of the batting order, Schwarber finds himself hitting in the No. 7 spot in Thursday’s lineup.

Sure, it’s against a lefty, and Washington seemed to recognize all along that Schwarber was less potent against same-sided pitching. I’m pretty sure they never thought he’d ever be the second-lowest non-pitcher in the lineup, though.

Schwarber enters Thursday’s game batting a smidge over .180 with an OPS+ of 58, compared to a career mark of 111. However, there are two tendencies that should make fans fairly optimistic that a turnaround could be on the way.

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Here's To Hoping Oshies Got To Share One Last Memory

It’s been three years since the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup, yet in all the celebration afterward, one moment was permanently etched in my memory.

It involved TJ Oshie, holding the Stanley Cup over his head, then handing it to his father to do the same. They locked eyes like they were really trying to make it a memory they would never forget. Only afterward, when a tearful Oshie told the media his Dad was suffering from Alzheimer’s, did I understand.

I lost a father-in-law to Alzheimer’s 15 years ago, and if you’ve never had to deal with it affecting a loved one, you’re lucky. They call it “the long goodbye,” but it’s just an awful disease. None of us can escape the circle of life, as at some point we all know our days on earth will come to an end.

But when that happens, there are certain things everyone should get to experience. Like the ability to say goodbye to that loved one. To share old memories. To be able to tell that person how much they meant to them. To thank them for the help they gave, or ask forgiveness to lift the weight of some deed in the past. To squeeze the hand of someone who has long been a mentor and tour guide in this thing called life, and gently let go.

Whether it’s the blink of an eye, a squeeze of a hand in return, or just a nod, all give closure. Only with Alzheimer’s it doesn’t happen, as the person returns your stare…and doesn’t know who you are.

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FCS Playoffs Have Put Joy Into Trying Times For Stinespring

The prolonged Football Championship Subdivision playoffs have put some joy into some trying times for Bryan Stinespring, the assistant head coach for Delaware, which visits South Dakota State with hopes of moving on to the FCS title game.

Stinespring is in his first year at Delaware after coaching stints at Virginia Tech, James Madison and Old Dominion, where the hiring of new head coaches and staffs left him looking for a job.

He landed at Delaware, whose head coach, Danny Rocco, had been an assistant at Virginia when Stinespring was at Virginia Tech. While Stinespring coached offense and Rocco coached defense, they were also recruiting rivals.

There were some coaches on Rocco's staff whom Stinespring knew, including former Virginia Tech player Chris Cosh, who put in a good word in Stinespring's behalf.

Stinespring was gone for the next seven months due to COVID-19 but it also gave him the opportunity to return to Clifton Forge and spend time with his mother, who had Alzheimer's and eventually passed away.

"My brother and I took care of my mother and allowed her to stay at home, mostly because of my brother's efforts," he said. "We were able to do some things that, in another year, I wouldn't have been able to do. So, I'm actually thankful for that part of it.

"We were looking for silver linings a little bit and that, for me personally, was one. It's truly a devastating disease for everyone really."

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Doug Doughty

Doug Doughty

He's the dean of the UVA beat, and creator of College Notebook, which has entertained fans for 45 years. Meet Doug Doughty

Ricky LaBlue

Ricky LaBlue

A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

Stephen Newman

Stephen Newman

The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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