Winchester, VA – Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® President, Sharen Gromling, is pleased to announce the area’s top high school and college student-athletes. Students are chosen each year to represent their school during the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast which takes place during the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® on Saturday morning, May 6, 2023, at 8:00 am inside the Tolley Dental Zone at James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center on the campus of Shenandoah University.
The 2023 outstanding local student-athletes include:
Andrew Link - James Wood High School
Andrew has earned both his academic and varsity letters at James Wood. He has earned two for football, two for basketball and will earn his fourth letter this season in track and field. Honors include being Team Captain for basketball and track. Andrew earned All-State Honors in 2021 for both the 110 meter and 300 meter hurdles and in 2022 for 300 meter hurdles. He earned a district championship in the 300m hurdles in 2021 and 2022 and in the 110m hurdles in 2022. He also earned a regional championship for 300m hurdles in 2022 and 55m hurdles in 2023. He is 3rd all-time at James Wood in both the 55m and 300m hurdles. Andrew earned the “Most Outstanding Sprinter/Hurdler” award by his coaches in 2021 and 2022. He has been a two-year starter for basketball and earned the “Coaches Award” for basketball in 2023. He played Tight End, Wide Receiver, and Linebacker for varsity football. Andrew was also awarded “Senior Player of the Game” for football in 2022 and earned the Sportsmanship award. Andrew is an Eagle Scout and member of the National Honor Society. Andrew has a 4.15 GPA and plans to attend the United States Coast Guard Academy where he will continue running track.
Jamie Mae Kelly – Skyline High School
Jamie Mae Kelly is from Front Royal, Virginia and attends Skyline High School. Over her four-year high school career, Jamie has earned 12 varsity letters (4 volleyball/4 basketball/4 softball). In volleyball, Jamie was Team Captain her junior and senior seasons. During her junior season she was Second Team All-District. Her senior season Jamie was First Team All-District, Second Team All-Region, and First Team NV Daily All-Area team while also being voted Skyline Volleyball MVP. As a three-time team MVP basketball player, Jamie was Second Team All-District as a freshman, First Team All-District and Second Team All-Region in both her sophomore and junior seasons, before exploding into First Team All-District and First-Team All-Region her senior season. Jamie was on the Strasburg Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team during both her junior and senior years, as well as First Team NV Daily All-Area team both her junior and season seasons. Jamie reached a career milestone this past season when she scored her 1000th career point and leaves the Hawks as their second all-time leading scorer. Currently in her senior softball season, Jamie Kelly earned both Second Team All-District and Second Team All-Region her sophomore and junior seasons and was awarded First-Team NV Daily All-Area as a junior shortstop/pitcher. Jamie has a 3.52 GPA and has signed to play collegiate softball for Potomac State College next season.
Sara Waller – Warren County High School
Sara has earned 11 Varsity letters for Warren County High School, playing 4 years of Varsity Volleyball and Softball, and 3 years of Varsity Basketball. Sara has been named 2nd team All-District and 2nd team All-Region for her sophomore and junior years in Softball and junior year in basketball. Sara has been a 4-year starter and 2-year team captain on the varsity volleyball team where she earned 2nd team All-District and All-Region honors as a sophomore and 1st team All-District and All-Region honors as a junior. During the 2022 season, Sara helped lead her team to a Region 3B Championship and State Semi-Final appearance. During this run, Sara was named 1st team All-District, 1st team All-Region along with Region 3B Player of the Year and 1st team All-State for Class 3. Sara was also named the 2022 Northern Virginia Daily Player of the Year. Sara is ranked 5th in her graduating class with a 4.19 GPA. She is the Senior Class Vice-President, the National Honor Society Historian, and the Vice President of Hospitality for the Warren County High School DECA program which competes at the National level. Sara intends to continue her volleyball career in college while studying Marine Biology.
Emma Ahrens – Sherando High School
Emma Ahrens has earned 10 varsity letters at Sherando (4 cross country/2 indoor track/3 outdoor track/1 band). She is a five-time state qualifier, and two time state medalist in cross country and the indoor 3200m. She is also a national qualifier in the indoor 3200m and 5000m. Emma earned Winchester Star and Northern Virginia Daily honors in each of her seasons between freshman and senior year. She also plays two instruments in multiple bands at Sherando and is active in Student Council and National Honors Society. Emma has a 4.25 GPA and has committed to run cross country and track for Concordia University Wisconsin in the fall.
Christopher LeBlanc- Clarke County High School
Christopher LeBlanc has earned 6 Varsity letters, 4 from Soccer and 2 from football. Due to covid his freshman year he was a 3-year starter at the midfield/attacking positions from his sophomore year to senior. In his sophomore season from 2020-21 he earned 1st team All-District, and Region. His junior season from 2021-22 he won the Class 2 state championship and earned 1st team All-District, Region, and all Area by the Winchester Star. He also earned 2nd team All-State. For his current senior season, he is expected to perform well again and make a deep run into states. During his 2021-22 junior season in football, he earned 1st team All-District, Region, and Area by the Winchester Star for punting and kicking. His senior year from 2022-23 he earned 1st team All-District, Region, Area by the Winchester Star, and 2nd team state, for punting. He earned 2nd team All-District, Region, Area by the Winchester Star, and state for kicking. Chris was also a member of the Screamin’ Eagles Marching Band from his 8th-10th grade years and was a section leader starting his freshman year. He has also been a member of DECA since his junior year. Christopher has a 3.889 GPA and has signed a letter of intent with Shenandoah University to play football.
Emerson Fusco – Handley High School
Emerson Fusco has earned 7 varsity letters at John Handley High School. He was a 3-year starter in Football as a Defensive Back and Running Back. He earned All-District and All-Region Honors his junior and senior years and was All-Area for the Winchester Star both seasons. On the hardwood for the Judges, Fusco was a 4-year starter. He was All-District and All-Region and was the Northwestern District Player of the Year his junior and senior years. Additionally, he was voted the Region 4C Player of the Year his senior season and garnered All-State Honors. He also scored the 2nd most points all time at Handley, scoring 43 points in a playoff game vs Sherando. He was also the Winchester Star Player of the Year his junior year (has not been released to date for 2022-23). He has a 3.4 GPA and will play college basketball next year.
Nicholas Hayden- Millbrook High School
Nicholas Hayden is a senior cross country/track and field athlete from Millbrook High School. Nicholas has earned state titles in the 800m outdoor and 1000m indoor races. He also has five district titles and two region titles between track and cross country. He holds Millbrook High School records in the 500m, 800m, 1000m, 5000m, and 4x400m relay. He was the 2022 Winchester Start Track and Field Athlete of the Year. Nicholas is a member of Millbrook’s Chapter of the National Honor Society and Future Business Leaders of America. Nicholas has a 4.465 GPA and will attend and run track for Columbia University, majoring in Finance.
Kailyn Allanson – Legacy Christian Academy
Kailyn Allanson is a senior at Legacy Christian Academy. She has played Varsity Volleyball for 4 years and was a part of the 2022 National Championship team. Kailyn has a GPA of 3.18. She will attend Arizona State University to study Criminal Justice.
Miles Moore – Shenandoah University
Miles Moore from Richmond, Virginia graduated from Manchester High School. He is currently a senior at Shenandoah University and ran all 4 years for the Hornets while playing football 2 of those years. He has set numerous records at Shenandoah breaking the 100 meter dash, indoor 200 meters dash, outdoor 200 dash, 4x100m relay, and the 4x200m relay records. Miles is a 6-time Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) champion. He received USTFCCCA All-American in March for the Indoor 200 meters placing 8th at the NCAA Championships. Miles earned USTFCCCA All-Region, All-ODAC, and VaSID All-State. Miles intends to use final year of eligibility to run at Mount St. Mary University receiving his master’s degree in Sports Management.
Ella Drury – Mountain View Christian Academy
Ella Drury has been a student of Mountain View Christian Academy for the last four years. She is a member of the graduating class of 2023 and is President of the Academy’s Student Government Association. During her high school career, she has been an SGO and National Honor Society member for two years and a member of Mountain View’s Drama department for all four. She played varsity volleyball her junior and senior year as a middle hitter. She is also a part of the Academy’s Chapel Worship team, where she sings and plays guitar. Ella has a GPA of 3.7. After high school Ella plans to stay in her hometown of beautiful Winchester, VA to work and save money until she feels secure enough to move to New York City, where she will begin a career in acting.
Tickets to the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast are available at www.thebloom.com/events.
Washington Redskins two-time Super Bowl Champion & James Madison University Football Great, Gary Clark to be Festival Sports Guest
Two-time Super Bowl Champion and Washington Redskins legend, Gary Clark, has been announced as a Special Sports Guest by Festival President, Sharen Gromling. In 1985, Clark was selected in the second round of the NFL draft by the Washington Redskins and went on to playing 11 seasons in the NFL.
Clark is considered one of the toughest players in Redskins history, a tenacious blocker and consummate professional. He was the first wide receiver in NFL history to catch at least 50 passes in his rookie season. Clark was one of the top wide receivers in the National Football League at the time of his retirement, ranking 8th in receptions and 7th in receiving yards. Clark was a two-time Super Bowl Champion, two-time Redskins MVP, three-time All Pro, four-time Pro Bowler, and an eight-time All-Madden Team member. Clark’s “competitive fire, tenacity, and ability to make clutch, game-changing plays,” made him a favorite of legendary commentator, John Madden.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Clark, Ricky Sanders and Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Art Monk were nicknamed “The Posse” for being one of the best receiving corps in the NFL. Clark’s NFL career totaled 699 receptions and 10,856 yards. He scored 65 touchdowns; 58 of those came with Washington. Gary Clark is recognized as one of the 70 Greatest Redskins list and was honored as an NFL Hall of Fame Nominee. Gary was inducted into the Washington DC Sports Hall of Fame, the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2007 into the Washington Redskins Ring of Honor.
Gary attended James Madison University (JMU) and was inducted into the JMU Hall of Fame in 1994. As a Duke, Clark held every significant JMU receiving record at the end of his college career. Clark was named Virginia Offensive Player in 1982 and Honorable All American in 1982 and 1983. He was the first player in JMU Football history to win a Super Bowl Championship and the first ever to have his #80 jersey retired by the University.
Clark’s outstanding college career stood out when the United State Football League (USFL) was formed in 1984. Clark was the first ever draft pick for the Jacksonville Bulls and the first JMU player to be drafted as a first round pick by a professional team. His impact with the Bulls soon came to the attention of Washington Redskins.
Gary C. Clark is the Founder of Gary Clark Incorporated and Co-Founder of T&G Real Estate Advisors and The MetaVerse Sports Group. A serial entrepreneur, Gary considers his five children, Gari, Aiden, Nathaniel, Gabriella and Gary 2.0, his greatest joy.
Clark, a native Virginian from Radford, Pulaski County High School grad, JMU Football standout, and Washington Redskins legend will attend many festival events including the Coronation of Queen Shenandoah presented by Morgan Orthodontics and the Hang 10 Car Wash Firefighters’ Parade. Gary will speak at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast on Saturday morning, May 6 at the Tolley Dental Zone in the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic and Event Center on the campus of Shenandoah University Campus and then ride in the Glo Fiber Grand Feature Parade.
Winchester, VA – The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is pleased to announce the 2023 Apple Blossom Sports Hall of Fame Inductees, Debby Sanders and James W. “Jim” Casey. Debby and the Casey family will be honored for their contribution to sports in the region at 8:00 a.m. during the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast on Saturday morning, May 6, 2023, in the Tolley Dental Zone at the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic and Event Center, 1188 Ralph Shockey Drive. General admission tickets are $45 and VIP tickets are $125.
Debby retired from Frederick County Public Schools after 30 years as a Health and PE teacher, Department Chair, and Head Girls’ Basketball Coach.
She coached Millbrook High School girls’ basketball team from 2004-2013 with 84 consecutive wins. The team titles include the following: State Champions 2010, 2011, 2012; Regional Champions 2010, 2011, 2012; District Champions 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013; Regional Runner-Up 2009; and State Semi-Finalists 2009.
She was named State Coach of the Year from 2010 through 2012; Regional Coach of the Year from 2009 to 2012; and District Coach of the Year in 1997 and from 2009 through 2013.
After coaching, Debby served as an assistant athletic director for one year and volunteered at numerous sporting events. She was inducted into the Millbrook Athletic Hall of Fame and started the Millbrook “Go Pink” Millbrook vs. Cancer annual events that help to raise money to support individuals and families in the community impacted by cancer.
James W. “Jim” Casey
A native of Boyce and 32-year employee of James Wood High School, James “Jim” William Casey died at the age of 92 on Jan. 8, 2023. He is remembered and missed by scores of people in the area as he is inducted into the 2023 Apple Blossom Sports Hall of Fame.
Casey is survived by two of his three children – James M. and his daughter Ann. His son, John Casey, noted blacksmith and manager of the family farm, died at age 61 this past March. Coach Casey is also survived by his brother Jerry. Jim’s wife Eleanor MacDonald died in 2005. She, with Jim, founded and operated one of West Virginia’s most successful thoroughbred and racing operations. The operation was first named for Eleanor, and then after her death, for their horse farm Taylor Mountain.
Jim graduated from Boyce Agricultural High School and the College of William and Mary where he ran track, played baseball, and was the varsity football manager. After two years in the military, Casey returned to begin his career at James Wood High School, where he was a teacher, coach, and athletic director.
Retired athletic director at Handley High School, Jimmy Omps, said of Casey, “I remember watching Casey run the cinder track at Handley, the 100-yard dash in close to 10 seconds. He was very intelligent; he knew the rules.”
Don Shirley, a retired principal at James Wood, agreed that his intelligence was a comfort to him and a sounding board. “He was good listener…I missed that greatly when he retired. He was one of the most loyal persons I can think of. He remembered everything, the kids, who did what in which game. Unbelievable!”
Former JWHS student Danny Hoopes recalled that Casey was a great strategy coach; he was not vocal, but he was a confident man. Hoopes, who Coach Casey nicknamed Hoops, Jr. greeted him that way for years. Why Hoops, Jr? Hoops was told to figure it out himself. Seems Hoops was the 1945 Kentucky Derby winner.
Casey’s son, a veterinarian like his grandfather, said, “He never really got upset about anything. He could take things in stride.”
The 1954-55 school year marked the beginning of Casey’s run of success as head coach in three sports. In baseball, he never had a losing record; his football winning record included a 10-0 season in 1964, but he was at his best with basketball. After James Wood High School hired Casey as head coach, he had a record of 132-29, winning eight District titles.
Casey’s post-educational career as horse owner and trainer featured more than 1,200 wins, including a record 35 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic victories as a trainer. Casey moved from Winchester to Charles Town, W.Va. in 2002 after acquiring 146 acres in Jefferson County.
Like his grandfather, he was generous. There is the Dr. Joseph M. Casey scholarship at Clarke County High given to a student pursuing a degree in science or veterinarian medicine. The generosity and encouragement Casey and his wife Eleanor left to future generations are scholarships named the JAMES & ELEANOR CASEY ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIPS which are awarded yearly at James Wood High School, Millbrook High School, Sherando High School, Clarke County High School, Washington High, and Jefferson High Schools. The scholarships are used by an athlete to further their education and playing a college sport is not a requirement.
As late as 2022 he won 24 races and was at the track every morning. On the morning of January 6, 2023 Casey fell at the track and suffered a broken leg. He won the race while in surgery and seemed to be on the mend when he died two days later. His wife Eleanor had died in similar circumstances, A loose horse caused her to fall and break her hip at age 74 in 2005.
His son, James M. Casey, told the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred journal, “He enjoyed it--the people, the horses, the races. He went to the track every day until the very end.” Casey’s racing resume records over 1,200 wins, his horse, No Love for Juba, a homebred horse, won the West Virginia Futurity on Jan. 8, the day of his death. Late in the Game, came in second.
Coach Casey’s son and daughter will accept their father’s induction into the 2023 Apple Blossom Sports Hall of Fame.
Join us at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast at the Tolley Zone in the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic and Event Center on Shenandoah University Campus on Saturday morning, May 6, 2023 at 8:00 a.m.
Eric Dickerson, Pro football Hall of Fame and record-breaking running back has been named Co-Sports Marshal by Sharen Gromling, president of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®
Dickerson was selected second overall in the 1983 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. An immediate success, he established rookie records for most rushing attempts (390), most rushing yards gained (1,808) and most touchdowns rushing (18), including another two receiving touchdowns. His efforts earned him All-Pro, Pro Bowl, Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors.
In his second season, Dickerson continued his onslaught on the NFL record book becoming a member of the 2000 rushing yards club. Twelve times in 1984 he gained more than 100 yards rushing, breaking the record of 100-yard games in a season held by O.J. Simpson. His 2,105 total yards rushing beat Simpson’s 1973 NFL season record of 2,003 yards. No one has since rushed for more yards in a single NFL season. Dickerson retired from the NFL as the 2nd leading rusher of all-time and in 1999 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Dickerson was named to the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. He is widely considered as one of the greatest running backs of all time.
Russ Potts, a Winchester sports enthusiast, while athletic director at SMU from 1978-1982, developed a friendship with Dickerson (SMU 1979-1982) that lasted through the years. Dickerson and Craig James, currently New England Patriots ESPN analyst, were running backs. SMU went 11-0 in the 1982 season. The duo of Dickerson and James became known as "The Pony Express", coined by Potts, referencing the SMU mascot, the Mustangs. Dickerson was inducted into the College Hall of Fame in 2021 for SMU.
Marcus Allen shared his positive 2015 Apple Blossom experience as Sport Marshal with Dickerson. Dickerson and his wife, Penny Sutton, graciously in turn, accepted the Festival invitation and will attend festival events on Friday, May 5, including the Coronation, presented by Morgan Orthodontics, and the Hang 10 Car Wash Firefighters’ Parade. He will be a featured speaker on Saturday, May 6, at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast at the Tolley Zone in the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic and Event Center on the campus of Shenandoah University. They will then ride in the Glo Fiber Grand Feature Parade, which begins at 1:30 p.m. Dickerson's appearance is sponsored by Omps Funeral Home and Cremation Center.
Tickets to Festival events are available at www.thebloom.com/events.
Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl LVII Champion and Millbrook High School standout athlete, Nazeeh Johnson named Co-Sports Marshal
His hometown community has called the play, and Nazeeh Johnson, local gridiron hero and 2023 Super Bowl Champion with the Kansas City Chiefs, has been named Co-Sports Marshal by Sharen Gromling, president of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®
Nazeeh Johnson triumphed as a 2023 Super Bowl Champion with the Kansas City Chiefs this past February. He achieved a goal of his youth! When he was five years old, after playing a few games of little league football, he went to his parents saying, “Dad, Mom! I’m going to play in the NFL!” His parents told him, as any parent would do, “Okay, son, just know that you can definitely do it, but it won’t be easy.” Since that moment, Nazeeh has worked his way to the top. Johnson has said, “I believe in living in the now and taking advantage of all my opportunities.” His parents are Kisha and Brian Brown of Winchester.
The rookie safety entered his first season with the Chiefs in 2022, being drafted in the 7th round (Pick #259). Johnson was waived on August 30, and the next day he was signed to the practice squad. On September 28, his name became part of the active roster. His running speed is described as explosive or like a rocket. In his first season, Johnson led the Chiefs in Special Teams tackles and played a crucial part in the longest punt return in NFL Super Bowl history, as the Chiefs went on to win Super Bowl LVII.
Johnson’s football career began with youth tackle football, participating in leagues across Northern Virginia and locally in the Shenandoah Valley including Fairfax, Prince William, and Clarke County. The family ultimately made the Frederick County community their home.
While playing youth football in Clarke County, Johnson was called “Z Bolt”, which eventually became “Bolt” or “Z”. While at James Wood Middle School and Millbrook High School, he ran track to develop more speed and played basketball to enhance his agility. Millbrook High School Pioneers was the next step to reaching his ultimate goal. Johnson graduated from Millbrook High School in 2016.
Johnson was unranked coming out of high school but enrolled as a “preferred walked-on” with the Marshall Thundering Herd. In 2018 he earned his scholarship with Marshall. He started four seasons in 44 of 45 games. His had 302 tackles, six tackles with loss, one sack, seven interceptions, a defensive touchdown, and defended19 passes. His Herd Pro Day was incredibly productive and meaningful, running a 4.35-second 40-yard dash and jumping an impressive 42.5 inches. Johnson was named All-Conference USA for three seasons, and he received the Unsung Hero Award in his final year. This honor is awarded to Herd players who make significant contributions to team success and are least recognized.
Nazeeh Johnson is described as humble and quiet. He prefers spending time with his family and loved ones. Family, football, video games, and community: these are what Nazeeh hold near and dear to his heart. And he is near to the hearts of those in his community. Winchester and fans across the region were focused on #13 and cheered him all the way to his final play on that Super Bowl Sunday 2023.
Nazeeh and his wife, Kensley, will be attending festival events on Friday, May 5, including the Coronation, presented by Morgan Orthodontics, and the Hang 10 Car Wash Firefighters’ Parade. He will be a featured speaker on Saturday, May 6 at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast at the Tolley Zone in the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic and Convention Center on Shenandoah University Campus. They will then ride in the Glo Fiber Grand Feature Parade, which begins at 1:30 p.m. Johnson’s appearance is sponsored by Omps Funeral Home and Cremation Center.
Tickets to Festival events are available at www.thebloom.com/events.
Winchester, VA – The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® has named the 2022 inductees to the Apple Blossom Sports Hall of Fame. These four individuals will be recognized for their contribution to sports across the region at 8:00 am during the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast on Saturday morning, April 30, 2022, at the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic and Event Center, 1188 Ralph Shockey Drive. General admission tickets are now for $45 and are available at www.thebloom.com.
“Horsefeathers!” This word belongs to Bob Brown. He often used it in coaching the many youth who played baseball with him and it is still a favorite word. It’s a good clean expletive that gets his point across as he works with Winchester Baseball’s Bambinos.
The Bambino League is a nonprofit organization under tax classifications of baseball for recreation, sport, leisure, and athletics. The stated goal is described as the teaching of baseball fundamentals, good sportsmanship, and good citizenship. Commonly known as Winchester Baseball, its internet homepage says: “the success of Winchester Baseball can be seen in the induction of its President Bob Brown in 2010; in 2015 Winchester Baseball became only the second league in Babe Ruth Southeast Regional history to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
Brown, like many of the best athletes of the area, started young, playing on Arlington, VA’s first little league team. He went on to be an All-State athlete in both baseball and basketball in high school. Parade Magazine picked him as an All-American in basketball and an All-Metropolitan second baseman. In 1956 the American Legion team on which he played won the Legion Championship. After high school, Bob went to Wake Forest on a baseball scholarship and participated in major league affiliated summer programs. Catching the eye of major league scouts, he was invited to try out for the Yankees, the Cardinals, the Braves, and signed with the Orioles after graduating. Brown’s background gave him all the fundamentals he needed to lead youngsters into the sport.
But desiring a secure and reliable income, in 1972 Brown came to Winchester becoming the owner of Bauserman Oil Company. He missed daily interaction with baseball. He missed the camaraderie. He missed teaching others what he had learned of the sport. In 1988 he began his tenure with Winchester Baseball as a coach and became its president in 1993. His belief in the game and its positive effects on our youth is such that he continues to be the President of Winchester Baseball. Baseball, says Brown, “teaches baseball fundamentals, good sportsmanship and good citizenship.”
Ivy Brown Tyson, Bob Brown’s sidekick, number one volunteer, and the mother of extraordinary
athletic sons herself, described Coach Brown with three words: fierce, competitive, and loving. Ivy said, “He teaches them baseball but he also teaches them to be young men.” Ivy’s accolades of Bob ring true. He managed the first All Star team – Bambino League- in 1991. Following the 1991 World Series Play, Brown’s new aims were to hold district play and regular tournaments in Winchester. To this end, he developed a coach training program. Brown joined with Winchester Parks and Recreation to help develop a plan to make the facilities up-to-date and welcoming to out-of-town teams. With the help of many businesses and generous individuals giving time and materials and money the facilities were soon tournament level.
Brown added to his list of awards both the Washington, D.C. Hall of Fame and the Home Plate Hall of Fame Club in 2007. This extraordinary effort of a state-of-the-art facility, along with his coaching, saw Bob Brown selected to the South East Regional Hall of Fame in 2010 and in 2011 the City of Winchester dedicated the baseball field as the Bob Brown Youth Complex.
In addition, Brown’s teams were consistent winners of district, state, and regional championships. In 2011 Brown was the manager of the very first 10-year-old World Series team. They were second in the country!
Bob Brown had a vision and he made it a reality. Thanks to Bob Brown, a multitude of young boys are now young men.
Charles Cecil Chapman, known as “Sonny,” was a champion in the eye of the community as the voice and chair of the Apple Blossom Sports Breakfast for some 20 years. His leadership in this capacity was a significant influence not only in Winchester and Frederick County but in the surrounding area.
His impact on the culture of sports is evidenced as in his saying that “Apple Blossom is my favorite holiday” and following that, at every department chair meeting, he would announce “there will be a sports breakfast this year.” He would grin and tease the group by giving away no celebrity athlete attendees.
Chapman’s co-chair for a number of years was Jim Gowdy, now an Apple Blossom Vice-President. Gowdy reminisces that Sonny shaped the Sports Breakfast with his organizational skills from securing a venue to preparing the budget. Gowdy said, “Sonny managed people…but his greatest challenge was to keep Russ Potts, co-founder of the event to a timetable.” For Sonny, it was all about sports and the breakfast was his way to show the importance of sports during his favorite holiday.
His wife of 45 years, Carol, shared with pride some of the many civic activities in which Sonny was instrumental. Sonny, she said, was involved in starting the Ken Thomas Golf Tournament, a Child-Parent Center raiser, gave much time and effort to Doo Dah Day (remember the song Camptown Races), a celebration for children and their families with a parade, race, games, and activities. Along with all these responsibilities, he was active with the Red Cross and the First Presbyterian Church in Winchester.
There was a calmness about Sonny Chapman. Past-President Mike Stanfield related that Sonny, as O’Sullivan Transportation Manager and prior manager of Smith’s Transfer Corporation, served his community often through the Exchange Club of Winchester as president and as one of the original founders of the Exchange Club’s Child Parent Center. Chapman also served on the Frederick County Parks and Recreation Board. He patiently got the importance of sports out to the community.
Chapman believed in sports. He saw them as a way to create camaraderie, team and community bonding, good physical fitness, and a sense of celebration. His influence on sports leaves a lasting legacy.
Brenda K. Neal has dedicated herself to students since 1978 when she graduated from Shepherd College with a degree in health, physical education, and driver’s education. Not stopping there, Brenda earned a Masters of Communication in Education, along with professional endorsements as a secondary principal and administrator. With meticulous planning and a strong belief in the importance of athletics and all types of sports, her curriculum vitae is not only impressive and scholarly but also emphasizes her philosophy that athletics builds social and cognitive skills.
Starting her career in the Winchester Public Schools at Handley High School as a teacher of kinesiology for grades 9-12, she was also the basketball, softball, and volleyball coach. For her ability as a basketball coach, she garnered three Winchester Star Coach of the Year awards and her teams won six Northwestern District titles. That’s just basketball!
Looking at volleyball, Neal coached the teams to six more Northwestern District titles, four Apple Capital Tournament championships. To her went three more Star Coach of the Year awards and the title of Virginia High School League All-Star Coach. Her ability was so recognized that she was named Director of the Virginia High School League’s All-Star Games from 1990-1998 and held a place on the National Federation of High Schools Volleyball Rules Committee.
In 2004 Neal added to her sports responsibilities. After becoming the principal/lead teacher of Winchester Schools’ Alternative Learning Center, she rose to the position of Assistant Principal at John Handley High School where she organized what were known as “Study Circles” for students. These circles focused on diversity and building self-confidence for high achievement. She achieved this model along with all the regular assistant principal responsibilities of schedules and budgets and discipline. Her name was added to the Hunter Maddex Hall of Fame at Handley in 2004.
During her years at Handley High, she left her mark with a variety of training skills to help other teachers and coaches: cognitive coaching, effective decision making, and the most important APL strategies which help teachers with student time-on-task and classroom management. Her excellence was also recognized as Neal is a featured cast member in the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s video titled “Catch Them Being Good.”
Leaving her legacy of excellence in Winchester, Brenda became the Director of Access at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg, WV in 2009. Blue Ridge CTC had once been part of Shepard College but had since been accredited as an independent institution. After several years as Director of Access, Neal was named as Associate Dean of Student where for the last nine years she supervised admission counselors, oversaw disability services, testing services, and student affairs. She retired in 2021. However, Blue Ridge still needs her service and expertise, and she is there still on a part time basis. Brenda said, “Oh, I work about 20 hours a week.” Retirement?
Neal is a reader, a hiker, and a golfer and likes warmer climates after 43 plus years of giving herself to education. Why her dedication, particularly to athletics? Brenda answered this by saying that besides the health benefits, “athletics teaches finding a common goal, achieving as a team, and finding that you do not need to be in the spotlight alone. We all achieve best in teams.”
JIMMY WIILKINS, JR.
James R. Wilkins, Jr., athlete, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, is the living example of how many of us would like to be considered in our home towns. A past-president of Apple Blossom, 1977 and 1978, Jimmy continues to sit on the Executive Board. He brings knowledge, savvy business acumen, and Festival history to the table. Always open to a chat about all things Festival, Wilkins gives advice to Festival committees as a guide, mentor, and coach.
An abbreviated overview of Wilkins life is best begun as an eighth grader at John Handley High School in Winchester. The year is 1959 and Coach Jimmy Omps noted there were only three athletic teams for males; football, basketball, and track and field. Coach Omps, himself, was a Handley graduate and knew intimately the grass football field, the “cracker box” basketball gym, and the 440-yard cinder track. Omps recognized in junior varsity Wilkins a competitive spirit and outstanding athletic ability. “Without a doubt,” said Omps, “he is one of the best all-round athletes ….” Omps noted that as a youngster, Jimmy had large hands and is proud that he has used those hands to bestow his financial gifts on his community.
Jimmy, the outstanding athlete, made All-State teams in all three of Handley’s sports, was inducted into Handley’s Hunter Maddex Hall of Fame and received in 1966 the first Handley “Medal of Honor” for service to the school system. Wilkins’ fond memories of Handley High as the quarterback of the 1960s, are reflected in the football field being named the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Stadium in 2009.
Returning home after college (with a cross-country record or two), he worked with his father in real estate and was President of Wilkins ShoeCenter, Inc. founded in 1947. Son, James R. “Ritchie” Wilkins III works with his father in the family businesses. Jimmy is married to Veronica “Roni” Flett.
Wilkins serves on the Shenandoah Battlefield Preservation Foundation, the Bank of Clarke County Foundation, Winchester Equipment Corporation Board and Handley High Centennial Committee. Over the years, Wilkins has received many leadership, community service, retail, and realty awards. He also has fire department awards and forestry/tree farmer awards. He served on Winchester’s Common Council for two terms and served on various bank boards. A public event was dedicated to James R. Wilkins, Jr. by the French & Indian War Foundation. The topic was “Handley High School: The Jeffersonian Soul of Winchester.”
Additionally, Jimmy has been dedicated to Shenandoah University where the Wilkins family has been known and celebrated since his father, James R. Wilkins, Jr., was instrumental in having the college move from Dayton, VA to Winchester. Now, the newest, largest, most impressive sports and event center in the region is opened: James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics and Events Center. The huge 77,000 square foot facility, opened in 2017 will serve the university and the community. Wilkins was awarded the SU President’s Medal for service to the university in 2018.
Marjorie Lewis, Chair of the SU Board of Trustees, told the audience at the naming ceremony for the
center that Jimmy’s “got a huge love and commitment to sports.” She added that he was generous and wonderful, but it was not his money but rather his years of “time, dedication, and energy” which earned him the honor. And it is now one of the most used facilities for Festival events.
Winchester, VA – Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® President, Tommy Price, is pleased to announce the area’s top high school and college student-athletes. Students are chosen each year to represent their school during the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast which takes place during the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® on Saturday morning, April 30, 2022, at 8:00 am inside the Tolley Dental Zone James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center on the campus of Shenandoah University.
The 2022 outstanding local student-athletes include:
Ethan Caperton, Skyline High School
Ethan has earned 6 varsity letters at Skyline (3 football/3 basketball). He has started at wide receiver and quarterback in football. In the Spring 2021 season, he was selected 2nd Team All-Class 3 Northwestern District as a quarterback. He was asked to play quarterback as an injury replacement. As quarterback, he led the team to a district title. In the fall 2021 season, Caperton was selected 1st Team All-Class 3 Northwestern District as a wide receiver and defensive back. Likewise, Ethan earned 1st Team All-Region 3B honors for wide receiver and 2nd Team All-Region 3B for defensive back. In basketball, Caperton has been a 3-year starter and earned 2nd team All Class 3 Northwestern District in 2021. During the 2022 season, he earned 1st team All-Class 3 Northwestern District and 2nd team All-Region 3B. He played a big role in the basketball team’s 2021 District Championship and Regional Runner-Up finish. Likewise, he helped lead the basketball team to the 2022 Region 3B Championship and into the state quarterfinals.
Ethan is a quiet, well-spoken young man that provided steadfast leadership for the football and basketball teams. He played multiple positions on the field because that was what is best for the team. He sacrificed and played through multiple injuries during his football and basketball career.
Ethan is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Ethan has a 3.9 GPA and is actively pursuing the opportunity to attend Bridgewater College and study engineering. He would also like to play football and/or basketball.
Allee Jerles, Mountain View Christian Academy
Allee Jerles, a senior at Mountain View Christian Academy, has a huge heart for sports. She has played basketball since the 5th grade, but her passion is volleyball. Allee is also playing soccer this year. She was captain of both the volleyball and basketball teams this year and was selected for the All- Tournament Team at the NCSAA volleyball tournament in 2021. In addition to sports, Allee maintains a GPA of 3.4 while working at Mountain View in the after-school and summer care programs. Allee is a member of the National Honor Society and has served as both historian and secretary of the Student Government Organization. Allee plans to attend Lord Fairfax Community College for the first two years of her college education and then transfer to a university to get her business degree as part of her dream to be a real estate agent.
Avery O’Roke, Millbrook High School
Avery is an 18-year-old senior at Millbrook High school. She was a 4-year starter for The Lady Pioneers varsity basketball team. She is this year's Winchester Star Player of The Year. Avery was also named to the First Team Class 4 All State team this season. Also, during this past season, Avery was named First Team All-District, First Team All-Region and awarded Co Regional Player of the Year. She scored her 1,000 points during a shortened junior year season. Avery's sophomore season, she was named Second Team All-State and First team in both the District and Region. She has also received the Pioneer Award the last 3 years from Millbrook High School for varsity basketball. Avery maintains a 3.9 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society and has participated in the Leo Club and FCCLA. Avery will play basketball on a full athletic scholarship for NCAA Division 1 (American East Conference), New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Dain Booker, Clarke County High School
Dain Booker has earned both his Academic and Varsity letters at Clarke County High School. He has earned 3 for football, 3 for basketball, and will be completing his 3rd letter in track this season. His honors in football include 1st Team All-Bull Run District Defensive All Purpose and 1st Team All-Region 2B Defensive All Purpose. In the last few games of his senior year, he learned a new position as linebacker due to an injured teammate and picked up the honor of 2nd Team All-Area Team Linebacker through The Winchester Star. Dain earned the Iron Eagle award in 2020 for lifting 1200 Pounds in a combined 4 lifts, (Bench, Squats, Hang Clings and Dead Lift.) In basketball, Dain has been a 3-year starter and team captain his senior year. He earned the Un-Sung hero plaque by his coach. In 2021, Dain was the 2nd leader on the team in total points earned. He earned All-District in 100 and 200 Meter Dash, 4x100 M Relay, Triple and Long Jump. All-Region and All-State for 4x100 M Relay.
Dain has maintained a 4.1 GPA all throughout High School and will be attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida in the fall. He will train to be a commercial pilot and earn a degree in Aeronautical Science with a minor in Meteorology.
Ella Carlson, Sherando High School
Ella has been an athlete at Sherando all 4 years, receiving 7 varsity letters (3 basketball; 4 track and field). She was the starting center on the varsity girls’ basketball team for 3 years and received 1st team All-District honors as a senior. Ella also took 2nd place in the discus as a freshman at the state meet but came back as a junior to claim the state title as well as placing 2nd in the shot put.
Ella has a 4.1 GPA and has signed a letter of intent with the College of William and Mary to continue her track and field career.
Jaden Ashby, James Wood High School
Jaden has earned 10 varsity letters at James Wood (4 football/3 basketball/3 baseball). He has been a 3-year starter at wide receiver in football. He broke 11 records at James Wood (most points scored single season + career/most receiving yards single season/longest run 99 yards/average yards per carry 9.6 single season/touchdowns single season 25/touchdowns career 42/most receiving touchdowns single season + career/longest receiving touchdown 97 yards/receiving touchdowns single game 4/also tied touchdowns in a single game with 5). He was selected 2nd team All-Northwestern District wide receiver, also 1st team Winchester Star at wide receiver and punt/kick return his sophomore year. His junior year no honors were given due to covid-19. He was selected 1st team Winchester Star (wide receiver, kick returner, defensive back) 2nd team punt returner. He was selected 1st team Northwestern District (wide receiver, punt returner) 2nd team (defensive back, kick returner). He was selected All-Region 1st team (offensive all purpose, punt returner) 2nd team wide receiver his senior year.
In baseball, Jaden was a 3-year starter in the outfield earning Winchester Star honors. In basketball, Jaden was 3-year starter at guard. Jaden has also earned Northwestern District All-Academic Honors.
Jaden has a 3.5 GPA and has signed with D1 Southern Utah University to play football.
Stephen Daley, John Handley High School
Stephen has earned 10 varsity letters at John Handley High School (4 football / 2 basketball / 4 track and field). He was a 4-year starter in multiple positions on both offense and defense in football. He broke Handley’s rushing yards in a single game record and career sack record. He was selected 2nd team All-Northwestern District Defense his freshman year. He was selected 1st team All-Northwestern District and 2nd team All-Region 4C Defense his sophomore year. Stephen’s junior year he was named All-Northwestern District Defensive Player of the Year and was selected 1st team All-Region 4C Defense. In his senior year, Stephen was named All-Northwestern District Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year along with All-Region 4C Defensive Player of the Year. He was also selected as 1st team All-Region 4C Offense. Stephen earned All-State Honors for both Offense and Defense his senior year. Stephen received Winchester Star honors in each of his 4 seasons of football with ending his senior year as both Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.
In track and field his freshmen year, Stephen was a member of the 4x100 meter relay team which broke a school record and placed 2nd in the Class 4 state championship. Unfortunately, due to COVID there was not a track/field season his sophomore year. Stephen’s junior year he placed 3rd in the 100 meters, 5th in the discus and 5th as a member of the 4x100 meter relay in the Class 4 state championship. This past winter Stephen placed 4th in shot put at the Class 4 indoor track state championship. His senior outdoor track and field season is currently ongoing where he intends on competing at the Class 4 state championship in June.
In basketball, Stephen was a 4-year member of the basketball team, earning his two varsity letters in his junior and senior years. His junior year the basketball team was State runner-up.
Stephen has a 3.63 GPA and has signed a letter of intent with Kent State University to play football.
Mikayla Combs, Legacy Christian Academy
Mikayla Combs is the daughter of Christine and Andy Combs. She is a senior at Legacy Christian Academy in Stephens City. She started all 4 years for varsity basketball at LCA. In her senior year she scored 184 points and had 95 rebounds. She has been selected on multiple all tournament teams and she has won offensive MVP twice and overall most valuable player once in her basketball career while playing for Legacy. Her coach said, “As the only senior on the team, her leadership was an important part of what we were able to accomplish”. Mikayla also played volleyball for Legacy for 3 years in the middle position. She helped her team to win their first National Championship for volleyball in the school's history. She has a GPA of 4.0 and is the president of the Honor Society at Legacy. She also enjoys serving her community through her church. She was accepted to James Madison University in the fall of 2022 to major in Business and Biology and hopes to work in the medical field someday.
Will Austin Waller, Warren County High School
Will Austin Waller, a senior at Warren County High School, has earned 3 varsity letters in Wildcat Baseball, 2 in Basketball and 1 in Golf. As a right-handed pitcher, 2nd baseman and shortstop, Will has also excelled in wooden bat leagues and for Team VA Mizuno. Honors in baseball range from being named to the 2021 Northwestern District and Area Baseball Teams to pitching a no-hitter in May 2021.
Honors in basketball include being team captain and a multi position player, being named All Region Basketball 21-22 Honorable Mention and receiving the 2022 Wildcat Co-MVP & Sportsmanship Award. During the awards banquet, his coach shared that Will is “a great student athlete and a great human being overall –he did his best and put the team on his back sometimes with a great attitude.”
Will has a 3.26 GPA and has been offered significant academic scholarships at Bridgewater, Eastern Mennonite, and Hood College. Will is uncommitted and is hoping to have a phenomenal spring baseball season which will lead to his being awarded a pitching position in the fall at a college within three hours of Front Royal. In the off-season, Will is an avid fisherman and especially enjoys trout fishing in Montana on the banks of the Missouri River.
Olivia Weinel, Shenandoah University
A Mount Airy, Maryland native, Olivia Weinel is a triple major, studying Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Spanish. The Shenandoah University senior is a 2022 Rotary Club/Jostens Award Finalist. Serving as a co-captain the past two years, Olivia has notched 1733 Minutes in 91 games with 878 points, 45 steals, 34 blocks, 86 assists and 328 rebounds. In her final year for the Hornets, Weinel was named ODAC All-Tournament, First Team All-ODAC, and Second Team All-Region. Off the court, she is a member of Psi Chi Psychology Honors society and Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and is the President of both the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honor Society. The forward was named the 2021 ODAC/ Virginia Farm Bureau Scholar Athlete of the Year, Academic All-State and is a two-time Collegiate Sports Information Directors of America First Team Academic All-District honoree. Post-graduation, Olivia will be pursuing a Masters Degree in Forensic and Criminal Psychology.
Former NASCAR Crew Chief and Analyst, Jeff Hammond, to Speak at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast and Ride in the Glo Fiber Grand Feature Parade
Jeff Hammond’s love of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is equal to that of longtime fans of Bloom Nation. Tommy Price, president of the Festival, is now welcoming Hammond’s return as a speaker at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast. Jeff was the Firefighters’ Marshal in 2016. Jeff says, “Apple Blossom to the spring is what Macy’s Parade is to Christmas."
Jeff Hammond joined FOX Sports at the conclusion of the 2000 NASCAR season as an analyst for FOX NASCAR’s inaugural year of MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES coverage, moving over from his duties at Roush Fenway Racing as Kurt Busch’s crew chief.
From 2001 to 2013, Hammond served as an analyst for FOX NASCAR SUNDAY, the network’s prerace show at the time, alongside Chris Myers and Darrell Waltrip. In 2014, he covered stories on pit road, becoming the first former crew chief to serve in that capacity for network television’s NASCAR coverage.
In 2006, Hammond received his first Sports Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Sports Person--Studio Analyst. Hammond visited America’s troops serving overseas in Baghdad and Southwest Asia as part of the NFL on FOX’s Thanksgiving Day coverage in 2010 and in Korea as part of the NFL on FOX’s Thanksgiving Day coverage in 2011. His broadcasting resume includes work for FX, ESPN, Turner, and TNN. He has co-hosted the nationally syndicated NASCAR Country radio show.
In 2019, Hammond was awarded the prestigious Smokey Yunick Award. A year later, Jeff was awarded the Fireball Roberts Hard Charger Award. Hammond may be heard weekly on Performance Racing Network’s “Fast Talk” on Monday evenings and on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Late Shift” with Brad Gillie on Tuesday evenings.
In 1974, at the age of 17, the legendary crew chief began his NASCAR career as a tire changer for Walter Ballard. He transitioned to the role of jack man and served in this capacity for all three of Cale Yarborough’s Cup Series championships before winning the 1981 championship as Darrell Waltrip’s jack man. In 1982, Hammond took the helm as crew chief for the first time atop the pit box for Waltrip at the pinnacle of the future Hall of Famer’s career. Together, the pair visited Victory Lane an impressive 43 times, including Waltrip’s 1989 Daytona 500 victory. Hammond, known as a methodical strategist, was Waltrip’s pit boss for two of his three Cup Series championships (1982 and 1985), and won the 1989 GM Goodwrench Teamwork of Excellence Award. He retired with 508 races as a crew chief.
In 2021, Hammond returned to the Crew Chief ranks as only one of four Crew Chiefs chosen for the inaugural Superstar Racing Experience series. Hammond would get his first win in this new racing series with driver and eventual series champion, Tony Stewart.
Hammond co-owns and operates Pit Training and Instruction (PIT) facility, a 24,000 square foot facility in Mooresville, N.C. PIT also owns 5 Off 5 On Race Team Performance and specializes in training current NASCAR pit crew members, in addition to assisting aspiring pit crew members gain the skills and knowledge they need to break into and succeed in NASCAR. Through PIT, Hammond also conducts team-building exercises for corporations and serves as a motivational speaker for several Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Northrop Grumman, and O’Reilly Auto Parts.
Hammond attended East Carolina University, where he played football. He resides near Charlotte, N.C., with his family.
Jeff will be speaking at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast at The Tolley Dental Zone in the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics and Events Center at Shenandoah University at 8 a.m. and riding in the Glo Fiber Grand Feature Parade, which steps off at 1:30 p.m. through the streets of historic Winchester.
Tickets for Festival events are available at www.thebloom.com/events.
Fred Smoot, Former Washington Redskin, “Mouth of the South” Sports Guest & Speaker at Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast
Yes, Winchester, there are still Redskins coming to the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®. Tommy Price, Festival President, is pleased to announce Fred Smoot will be added to the long list of former Redskins who have been part of our springtime celebration.
Fred played nine seasons in the NFL for the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings. He went to college at Mississippi State University where he played from 1997 to 2000. He started his junior and senior years, was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selection both years, and a consensus first-team All-American as a senior. He was also a finalist for the Conerly Trophy in 2000.
Smoot was drafted by Washington as the 14th pick in the second round (45th pick overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft and immediately formed an impressive duo with Champ Bailey. Following two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, he returned for a second stint with Washington and helped the team make the playoffs in 2007 and played with the team until 2010. He played in 129 games and had 21 interceptions, 450 tackles, and 5 forced fumbles.
The colorful Smoot, affectionately known as the “Mouth of the South,” was one of the more popular Washington players over the last 20 years. A funny quote attributed to him is, “2/3rds of the earth is covered by water, the other 1/3 is covered by Fred Smoot.” Now, Smoot does some work in the media; and, yes, he is a big Washington fan.
Smoot co-hosts a podcast with popular D.C. sports personality Chick Hernandez called “That’s Your Opinion” on the Bleav Podcast Network. It’s an entertaining show that will make you laugh while offering plenty of good football takes. In addition, he does radio and TV work for CSN, 106.7 The Fan, and NBC.
Smoot will be speaking at Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast at the Tolley Dental Zone inside the James R. Wilkins Jr. Athletic and Events Center on the campus of Shenandoah University on Saturday, April 30, at 8 a.m. and will ride in the Glo Fiber Grand Feature Parade, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at www.thebloom.com/events.
Legendary basketball great of all times, Julius “Dr. J.” Erving, has been named Sports Marshal by Tommy Price, president of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®
Julius Winfield Erving, internationally recognized as Dr. J. was the dominant basketball player of his era, and a true innovator who revolutionized the way the game was played. Widely heralded as one of the all-time greats, he is often considered to have been the catalyst for the ABA-NBA merger in 1976. Erving’s strong leadership skills led his teams to championships in both leagues while his authentically thrilling high-flying style on the court captivated millions of fans from all over the world along the way. A gracious, dignified, and disciplined man, Erving was an ideal ambassador of the sport. He was the epitome of class and humility, and no one was more respected both on and off the court. This is the essence of who he is and what he still brings to any role he serves in.
Currently serving as founder/managing member of Erving Global Opportunity LLC, Julius brings to the table close to 40 years of experience as a Hall of Fame player, executive and entrepreneur. Erving Global Opportunity (EGO) is engaged in managing the ownership, business development, commercial utilization, merchandising, television, film, social media and philanthropic involvement of the Julius “Dr. J. Erving” brand. Dating back to 1979, Mr. Erving’s business affiliations have generated close to 2.5 billion dollars in revenues and brand value for his partners and other high-profile clientele. The overarching business model consists of leveraging the name, likeness, and intellectual property of Mr. Erving primarily through endorsements, personal appearances, strategic partnerships, equity participation, and worldwide licensing programs.
Erving holds a degree in business management from The University of Massachusetts, as well as honorary degrees from Temple University and Philadelphia University. He has served on various Boards of Directors including the following: Converse (6 years), Darden Group, (8 years) Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (3 years), Meridian Bank (5 years), Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Commission (3 years), Saks Fifth Avenue (8 years), The Sports Authority (8 years), The University of Massachusetts (2 years), Widener University (1 year) and Williams Communications (4 years).
Erving played professionally for 16 years, having scored 30,026 points in his combined ABA and NBA career, and left as the third highest scorer in professional basketball at the time behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain. Erving scored more than 22.0 points per game in his 11 NBA seasons with Philadelphia and 28.7 points per game in his 5 ABA seasons with Virginia and New York. In 1993, Erving was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was also named to
the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-time team. In 1994, Erving was named by Sports Illustrated as one of the 40 most important athletes of all time. In 2017, GQ Magazine selected him as part of the 50 Greatest Living Athletes, a true testament to his staying power of remaining generationally relevant some 30 years after his playing career ended.
Erving will be speaking at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast at the Tolley Dental Zone in the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic and Events Center on Shenandoah University Campus, on Saturday, April 30 at 8 a.m. He will then ride in the Glo Fiber Grand Feature Parade, which begins at 1:30 p.m. Erving’s appearance is being sponsored by Omps Funeral Home and Cremation Center. Tickets to Festival events are available at www.thebloom.com/events.
The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the beauty of springtime and the apple blossoms in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley through events and initiatives that enhance community spirit and showcases our local agricultural heritage.