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.
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.
Enjoy the final days of summer with comedian Guy Torry, the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour or mystery writer Mary Miley Theobald at Twin Hickory Library. Another great way to welcome the beginning of fall is to check out the UR Spider Football season opener with man’s best friend. For all our top picks 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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