Deep Run sending three graduates to West Point
With a 13 percent acceptance rate according to http://www.collegeprowler.com the U,nited States Military Academy at West Point (Army) is one of the most selective colleges in the country. Try telling that to Deep Run High School, which is sending three students – Ricky Black III, Stephen Brooks and Patrick Gardner – from its 2012 graduating class to the prestigious academy.
Brooks and Gardner will be playing together on Army’s baseball team.
“I know baseball helped me get in there, but I wanted to go to a school that was mainly about academics and setting me up for success,” Gardner said, “and West Point is the perfect place to do that.”
Brooks and Gardner have been friends for several years, having played baseball together since before high school, they said. All three students knew each other before, but Brooks and Gardner didn’t talk much with Black until their decisions, they said.
They talk just about every day now, Brooks said.
“Mostly, we talk about the summer boot camp we have to go to,” he said. “They nickname it ‘Beast Barracks,’ which as you can tell, sounds like it’ll be just a heck of a ton of fun.
“A lot of running probably, being in the mud, not showering for a couple weeks, not having any contact with the outside world.”
None of the three have much family background in the military, they said.
“It wasn’t something I heard about growing up,” Black said.
Each has his own unique reasons for the big decision.
Black visited the campus his junior year for a weeklong summer leadership seminar program.
“I really liked everything that they were as far as the physical, the ethics, the mental and decided that was some place I really could see myself,” he said.
Brooks knew he was going to play baseball in college and, though he was talking to some ACC and SEC schools first, started to look at Army after they called him one night, he said.
“I couldn’t really find anything that could match up to what West Point could offer me in regards to academics, ethics, morals [and] the leadership that they preach,” he said.
Gardner really wanted to do something with the military, he said, and felt the baseball team there offered a more family-like feeling than anywhere else he looked.
At 18 years old, all three agreed future employment opportunities were big reasons for their decisions.
“I’m going to have a job when I get out of college,” Brooks said. “We have to serve five years coming out of West Point and so, for those five years, I’ll have a job.”
Gardner added, “A degree from West Point: who’s not going to hire you with that?”
Of course, deciding that they wanted to attend West Point was hardly half the process for an academy known for its strenuous application process.
“First of all, they want to see your transcript, all your grades, SAT scores, other programs you’ve been involved in,” Black said. “But on top of that, you have to be cleared by the Department of Defense Medical Exam Review Board.
“You also have to be physically qualified and do a certain amount of pushups, pull-ups, sit-ups, run a mile.”
A student must also apply to a congressman or senator to get congressionally nominated, Black said. Each congressman and senator has 10 slots for high school hopefuls. All three were nominated by Rep. Eric Cantor, with Gardner also receiving nomination from Sen. Mark Warner.
“Even after you’ve been accepted, you still have to get security clearance, still have to keep your medical records up to date,” Black said. “Like I just had my wisdom teeth taken out, and I’m going to have to send them my dental information so that they know nothing’s wrong.”
Despite all these stresses associated with applying for their top college choice, all three managed to have successful senior campaigns in their respective sports.
Black earned 35 wins for Deep Run’s wrestling team, which has won districts every year he’s been in high school, he said.
Brooks and Gardner were part of Deep Run’s first baseball team ever to win the district title outright in the regular season, according to the team’s head coach, Will Hicks.
Finishing 16-2 in the regular season, the Wildcats won the Colonial District Championship before falling, 5-4, to Cosby High School in the Central Region playoffs.
Both Brooks and Gardner pitched for the team, with Brooks also playing third base and Gardner also playing in the outfield.
“They’re team leaders in their own sense,” Hicks said of his two West Point-bound seniors. “One’s more boisterous [Stephen], the other [Patrick] is a leader by example, but they’re both leaders inside and out.”
Former Sandston resident Mildred Taylor celebrated her 106th birthday Aug. 9. Taylor, who now lives in Powhatan, is still a member of Sandston Baptist Church. She was visited the day after her birthday by several members of the church, who played for her a recording of the entire church membership singing happy birthday to her during worship. > Read more.
YMCA officials gathered last week to break ground on the new Tommy J. West Aquatic Center at the Shady Grove Family YMCA on Nuckols Road. The center, which will featured 7,600 square feet of competitive and recreational space, including water slides, play areas for children and warmer water for those with physical limitations, is the fourth phase of a $4 million expansion at the facility. West was president and CEO of Capital Interior Contractors and a founding member of the Central Virginia Region of the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. > Read more.
The Sandston Rotary Club recently donated $1,000 to the Sandston YMCA for its Bright Beginnings program, which helps provide children in need with school supplies for the new school year. > Read more.
For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Short Pump brewery offers more than just beer
I am still (happily) thinking about my entire experience at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery last week. Knowing nothing about this new brewery out of Denver, I was leery of brew-pub in the heart of Short Pump Town Center – this is not what I’d usually think of as a perfect fit, and yet, it was.
The restaurant and craft brewery opened in early June and features 10 beers made by female brewmaster Becky Hammond (pictured). This is the restaurant’s second location in Virginia; the first is in Arlington. Behind glass walls, customers watched the beer brewing in massive steel barrels. For our up-and-coming beer region, it makes sense that Short Pump would jump on board.
As I walked up to the back of the mall near the comedy club, I was taken aback by what I saw: at the top of the stairs was an overflowing restaurant with outdoor seating, large umbrellas and dangling outdoor lights. > Read more.
The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen is now registering participants for its fall 2014 schedule of classes.
The center will offer more than 100 classes for children and adults, covering topicssuch as culinary arts, fiber arts, visual and performance arts and more. Instruction is structured to appeal to a wide range of abilities, from beginners to experts of all ages. Class sizes are kept small to ensure maximum benefit for participants with generally no more than 15 students. > Read more.
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