Henrico County VA
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Sibling Rivalry

Family Allegiances Split in Army-Navy Battle
The annual Army-Navy football game is a tradition many sports fans enjoy. But the game – and the friendly rivalry between the two branches of the U.S. armed forces – holds special meaning for one Henrico family.

Henrico resident Matthew Fiorelli is a freshman at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. with big plans of serving his country.

“Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to attend a service academy," he said. "As a kid growing up, I looked up to my dad, my grandfathers, my uncles, and others who had served our country in the armed forces,” Fiorelli said.

Fiorelli's brother, Michael, is a sophomore at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Both students were raised in a household heavy with Navy influences – their father, Jim, a former Henrico School Board member, attended the Naval Academy and spent 24 years in the navy – and it surprised even Matthew when he eventually sought to enroll at West Point instead of heading for the navy.

“I chose to attend the Military Academy rather than the Naval Academy because I wanted to become an Army officer, and that was the door that God opened for me after high school,” he said.

As youngsters, both brothers watched the Army-Navy game annually with their dad, even dressing up in navy gear.

“From the time they were young, they were interested [in serving],” Jim Fiorelli said.

This year was the first time that both brothers attended the game (played Dec. 11 in Philadelphia) as cadets.

“We were both looking forward to the Army-Navy game, and there was definitely some smack talking going on over Thanksgiving Break,” said Matthew.

Bragging rights – for the ninth straight year – remain with Michael and his father, as Navy won the game 31-17.
Even though he rooted against the Army in the annual game all his life, Jim said he and his wife are very excited for both their sons.

“Jan and I are proud. We’re excited for them to have great experiences and meet wonderful people,” he said.

Matthew Fiorelli received his appointment to West Point in October of his senior year at Freeman High School in 2009. He accepted in March 2010 and started six weeks of basic training as a cadet in June.

During the academic year, he has a strict schedule. His day starts at 6:50 a.m., when all the cadets line up and march to breakfast. Classes last from 7:30 a.m. to about noon, followed by lunch formation and then classes until 4 p.m.

“In the afternoon, we typically have intramurals, which each cadet is required to participate in if they are not on a core or club squad team, or we have unit training time – military training of some sorts,” he said.  Although the program is tough, Matthew said he enjoys being productive and the challenges each day brings.

“West Point provided me the possibility of an extremely unique and purposeful experience," he said. "Also, an opportunity to receive training to become an army officer, which was my end goal.”

After graduating from West Point, the cadets must serve at least five years of active duty in the army and three years in the reserves. Fiorelli plans to become an infantry officer or helicopter pilot.

Jim Fiorelli said that the boys demonstrated normal, healthy competitiveness growing up two and a half years apart but said they are very involved today in what the other is doing.

“Matthew has always been Michael’s biggest fan,” he said.

Matthew Fiorelli concurred.

“He gave me some really good advice before I began at the academy, which has really helped me through,” he said of his older brother. Matthew hopes to participate in an exchange program in the navy during his junior year to compare it to his experiences at West Point.

Although he took a different route then his father and brother, the inspiration behind joining the military academy is still close to home. “My dad inspired me to join the military through his actions and service to our country," Matthew said. “Although he exposed us to the military at a very young age, he never prompted me to join or encouraged me to follow in his footsteps.”

“I’m really proud and pleased that they care enough about our country and understand the importance of military service,” Jim Fiorelli said of his sons.


Community

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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