May 5 FUMA Athletics Newsletter

The Blue Devil Report from Fork Union Military Academy's Athletic Department is your source for weekly updates on the Fork Union Blue Devils. Here's the latest from @FUMAathletics.


  • Athlete of the Week -- Daniel Reynolds (Outdoor Track & Field)
  • Weekly Recap
  • Rain Cancels Friday's Athletic Events
  • Featured Stories: Prep Lacrosse, Outdoor Track & Field, Junior Prep Lacrosse, Prep Baseball
  • Three FUMA Alumni Drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft
  • Peterson Signs with Concord University to Play Basketball
  • Jonathan Walker Signs with Hirem College to Play Lacrosse
  • Largely Under the Radar, New Patriot Derek Rivers' Hard Work Finally Pays Off
  • Joe Williams Took Break from Football to Come to Terms with Loss of Sister
  • Next week's schedule

FUMA's Athlete of the Week

Daniel Reynolds -- Outdoor Track & Field

Outdoor Track and Field's Daniel Reynolds has been named this week's Athlete of the Week. Reynolds led the Blue Devils this past weekend at the Real Deal Outdoor Track Classic. The Richmond, Va., native won the freshman division's 100 and 200-meter dashes with personal bests and almost achieved a personal best in the triple jump with a score of 41-07.50.

"Daniel Reynolds has quickly emerged from being a talented freshman to an absolute force for our team," said head coach Winston Brown.

Weekly Recap

  • Fri., Apr. 28 -- Prep Lacrosse at Randolph-Macon Academy -- WIN, 16-7
  • Tues., May 2 -- Prep Baseball vs. Christchurch School -- WIN, 9-1
  • Tues., May 2 -- Junior Prep Lacrosse vs. Woodberry Forest -- WIN, 11-3
  • Tues., May 2 -- Prep Lacrosse vs. Hargrave Military Academy -- L, 7-16
  • Wed., May 3 -- Junior Prep Lacrosse at Christchurch School - L, 0-6
  • Thurs., May 4 -- Prep Baseball at Christchurch School -- WIN, 6-2

Rain Cancels Friday's Athletic Events

The Events Will Not Be Rescheduled

FORK UNION, VA -- Due to rain, all home athletic events at Fork Union Military Academy have been cancelled and will not be rescheduled. Below are the list of events:

Friday, May 5, 2017

  • Prep Baseball vs. Hargrave Military Academy -- Cancelled
  • Prep Lacrosse vs. Benedictine High School -- Cancelled
  • Junior Prep Lacrosse vs. Benedictine High School -- Cancelled

Prep Lacrosse Picks Up a Road Win at Randolph-Macon Friday

Friday, April 28, 2017 -- Game Recap

FRONT ROYAL, VA -- The Fork Union Prep lacrosse team picked up a 16-7 road victory at Randolph-Macon Academy this past Friday. Two Blue Devils recorded four or more goals.

"We started the game pretty sloppy, but came out in the second quarter with a new fire under our feet that helped us score seven goals before halftime, which gave us a five-point lead," said head coach Nate Thiel. "Zach Miller tied a single-game record for ground balls at 20. The team as a whole showed what they are capable of when they collectively put their minds to winning the game."

In addition to his ground balls, Zach Miller led the way with four goals, one assist and 21-of-25 face-offs. Jonathan Walker followed with six goals and two assists.

Between the pipes, sophomore Thailan Pay recorded 13 saves on 20 shots.

The Blue Devils return to action Wednesday, May 10 when they travel to Christchurch at 5 p.m.

Outdoor Track & Field Shines at Real Deal Track Classic

Saturday, April 29, 2017 -- Meet Recap

NEWPORT NEWS, VA – The Fork Union outdoor track and field program shined at the 2017 Real Deal Track Classic this past Saturday at Todd Stadium.

"Will Stupalsky continues to dominate every meet he goes to. He will have a tall order at the Dogwood Classic this weekend. Ebruba Etta's sub-50 effort in the 400 was great to see. He took down a significant barrier," said head coach Winston Brown.

The Blue Devils recorded four first-place finishes, nine top-five showings and 29 season-best times, including Daniel Reynolds, Ebruba Etta and William Stupalsky all winning gold.

Reynolds led the way with winning two events for Fork Union, including the freshmen's division 100-meter (11.40) and 200-meter (23.07) dashes with season-best times.

Etta took home the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.63, which was also a season-best, while Stupalsky won the pole vault with a score of 13-6.

Fork Union returns to action this weekend when it travels to Charlottesville, Va., for the 2017 Dogwood Classic. The two-day event starts Friday, May 5 at 6 p.m., followed by Saturday at 11 a.m.

Prep Baseball Downs Christchurch, 9-1, Tuesday

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 -- Game Recap

FORK UNION, VA -- The Fork Union Prep baseball team picked up another sweep this week, defeating Christchurch on Tuesday and Thursday in a home-and-away series.

"Pitching has been really good this year," said head coach Rodney Carter. "Our defense continues to be better and better. After weeks of hibernation, our bats have finally come out of the cave for the last three weeks."

On Tuesday, the Blue Devils hosted the Seahorses and recorded a 9-1 victory. Fork Union got out to a hot start, scoring seven of its nine runs in the first at bat. Christchurch scored one in the first, but Fork Union held the Seahorses to six-straight scoreless innings.

Eighth-grader Drue Hackenberg led the offense with two hits, two RBI and one run scored. Two Blue Devils appeared on the mound, including Andrew Hill who recorded six strikeouts.

On Thursday, the Blue Devils picked up a 6-2 victory on the road thanks to four runs in the third. Fork Union held Christchurch to six scoreless innings, as four Blue Devils recorded multi-base hits. Senior Jacob Grabeel pitched a complete game, allowing two runs off eight hits with five strikeouts.

"We are in a good position going into our final week of baseball to possibly get a spot in the playoffs," added Carter.

Fork Union returns to action Tuesday, May 9 when it hosts St. Christopher's at 4 p.m.

Junior Prep Lacrosse Cruises Past Woodberry Forest, 11-3, Tuesday

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 -- Game Recap

FORK UNION, VA -- The Fork Union Junior Prep lacrosse team cruised past Woodberry Forest, 11-3, Tuesday afternoon at the Stadium Field.

"From the first whistle to the last we played as a team, and we started controlling the ball, as well as the tempo of the game right from the start," said head coach Jon Greenspon. "Scoring early and often was extremely satisfying, making our operation feel like a well-oiled machine. Everyone who dressed against Woodberry made it onto the playing field. Everyone showed that they are improving."

For the second-straight week, sophomore John Meheen led the way with four goals against the Tigers. Meheen became the first Blue Devil to record a triple hat trick this season.

"John Meheen really came through today," added Greenspon. "He is so pumped up to be the first on our team this season to earn our 'Triple Hat Trick Award.' The award can be earned by anyone on the team who scores 3 goals [known as a hat trick] in at least three different games. In addition to his four goals, Meheen scooped up five loose balls and made good connecting passes to his teammates."

In addition to Meheen, eighth-grader Logan French recorded two goals off six shots with two assists and five ground balls. Dominic Palko also recorded two goals and six ground balls, while two other Blue Devils found the back of the net for Fork Union.

Fork Union returns to action Tuesday, May 9 when it travels to Virginia Episcopal School for a 4 p.m. start time.

FUMA to Host Signing Day Luncheon Wednesday, May 10

The Luncheon Begins at 11:45 AM in the Estes Athletic Center

The Fork Union Athletic Department will be hosting a Signing Day Luncheon on Wednesday, May 10 in the Estes Athletic Center Hall of Fame at 11:45 a.m. for all senior and post graduate student-athletes who have made their decision to play a sport at the collegiate level.

Parents, family members and the media are all invited. If you have any questions, please contact Fork Union's Director of Athletics Brooks Berry at

Three Fork Union Alumni Drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft

Sunday, April 30, 2017 -- Draft Recap

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- Three Fork Union Military Academy alumni, all from the Post Graduate football program, were drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft this past weekend.

"The NFL draft is an amazing event for me and the program," said head Post Graduate football coach John Shuman. "The enthusiasm and anxiety of waiting to hear Fork Union names called over the TV screen is an testament to the 'Grind Now, Shine Later' creed. It was heartwarming to hear the names of Mack Hollins, Derick Rivers and Joe Williams. They understand the grind it takes to compete at FUMA."

Derek Rivers, Class of 2012, was selected by the New England Patriots in the third round as the 83rd pick overall. The Youngstown State graduate played on Shuman's 2012-13 squad, graduating in December 2012. Rivers was a two-time All-American and three-time first-team All-MVFC selection at YSU. The Kingston, N.C., native is a school record holder in sacks and ranks in the top five in FCS history.

Mack Hollins, Class of 2011, was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round as the 118th pick overall. The University of North Carolina graduate played on Shuman's 2011-12 squad, graduating in December 2011. Hollins enrolled at UNC prior to the 2012 season as a walk-on and finished his career as one of the top wide receivers in Carolina history.

Joe Williams, Class of 2011, was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round as the 121st pick overall. The University of Utah graduate joins former Blue Devil, Carlos Hyde '09 on the 49ers' roster. Williams averaged 99.2 yards rushing during his collegiate career and is a school record holder for single-game rushing yard (332) and single-season rushing average (156.3).

In addition to the three draftees, Jonathan McLaughlin, Class of 2012, signed a free agent deal with the Arizona Cardinals. McLaughlin was a four-year starter at Virginia Tech as an offensive lineman, after enrolling in January 2013.

Peterson Signs with Concord University

Monday, May 1, 2017

FORK UNION, VA -- Darian Peterson of the Post Graduate basketball program signed a National Letter of Intent with Concord University Monday morning.

"It's not about where you go, it's about what you do once you get there," said Peterson.

Peterson, a 6-foot-5, 175-pound guard from Chesterfield, Va., averaged 11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game as he played in 29 games this season.

"We're very proud of Darian for everything he has done throughout the year," said head Post Graduate basketball coach Matt Donohue. "He has listened and worked hard every day. It's been a pleasure to see him achieve his goal of playing college basketball. Concord is a great fit for him as a player and a student. He is going to do great things there in so many ways."

The Chesterfield, Va., native will enroll at Concord University in the fall of 2017.

Peterson, along with several other Blue Devils, will be formally honored by Fork Union's Athletic Department during a signing day ceremony in the Estes Athletic Center on Wednesday, May 10 at 10 a.m.

Jonathan Walker Signs with Hirem College to Play Lacrosse

Friday, May 5, 2017

FORK UNION, VA -- Jonathan Walker of the Prep lacrosse program signed a National Letter of Intent with Hiram College Friday afternoon.

"I am very thankful for this opportunity to play at the next level," said Walker. "Hiram College has everything I was looking for in a college that will challenge me on and off the field. I am very proud to call myself a Hiram Terrier. Go Terrier’s!"

Walker, a 5-foot-9, 210-pound attack from Currituck, N.C., has scored 62 goal and 34 assists during his Fork Union career.

"Jon has played lacrosse at Fork Union for four years," said head lacrosse coach Nate Thiel. "Having coached him for his last three, I can say I am proud to see the man he has become. Jon’s level of play has been an integral part in building the program at Fork Union. I am excited for Jon, and cannot wait to see the impact he has at Hiram College in the coming years."

Walker will enroll at Hiram College in the fall of 2017.

Walker, along with several other Blue Devils, will be formally honored by Fork Union's Athletic Department during a signing day ceremony in the Estes Athletic Center on Wednesday, May 10 at 10 a.m.

Largely Under the Radar, New Patriot Derek Rivers' Hard Work Finally Pays Off

By: Jeff Howe -- Thursday, May 04, 2017

Derek Rivers caught Bill Belichick’s attention more than a year ago.

Finally, for a defensive end who has been viewed as a late bloomer all his life, Rivers was earning the recognition that he had worked so diligently to deserve. Belichick just had to wait for his opportunity to capitalize on Rivers’ potential, and the Patriots selected the Youngstown State product last week in the third round of the NFL draft.

Rivers, the 83rd overall pick, was still overlooked to an extent due to the high-quality pass rushers from power programs. But the 6-foot-4, 248-pounder has played the underdog role before, and a partnership with Belichick and the Patriots could help that label disappear for good.

Those who know him best think he might just turn into the steal of the draft.

“I know he is invested in it,” Youngstown State coach Bo Pelini said of Rivers. “He lives, eats and breathes football. It’s really important to him. His character is off the charts. He is going to do everything those coaches ask him to do, and he is going to be a tremendous asset for that organization.”

Overcoming adversity

It was natural for Rivers to get into sports at a young age because his father, John Rivers, played football and basketball at Virginia Tech and never lost his love for athletics. They’d routinely watch those sports on television, and John was impressed with his son’s quick ability to learn the rules when he was barely old enough to dress himself.

Derek’s affinity for sports was productive early in his life. Growing up in Kinston, N.C., a rough area where gangs, drugs and violence were prevalent, it wasn’t all that difficult for kids to steer off course.

But Derek’s parents, who have since divorced, did an admirable job keeping him out of that lifestyle. They enrolled him in day care at a local church, where he met lifelong friends who looked out for one another, taught him tough and even uncomfortable lessons at home, and kept him involved in extracurricular activities through his adolescent years.

Some things are simply uncontrollable, though. John also coached Derek’s flag football team and was taken aback one day when Derek was staring off into space when he returned to the huddle. A battery of tests revealed Derek had a seizure, and doctors cautioned his parents that these episodes would continue through at least his childhood.

“It was nerve-racking to think something could be going on with your own kid,” John Rivers said.

The medication curbed the seizures over the years, but Derek had some more aggressive episodes with convulsions in his late teens. John and his ex-wife, Mary Leinonen, took Derek to a new doctor who believed Derek’s medicine was too strong and responsible for the scarier seizures that he’d been having. So Derek weened himself off the meds and hasn’t had a seizure since. Prior to the scouting combine, he got another medical evaluation to assure teams that his seizures were a thing of the past.

“He’s good to go,” John said happily.

Doesn’t come easy

Derek Rivers was always a standout football and basketball player, but he didn’t have his growth spurts until his junior and senior years of high school. On the gridiron, he blossomed as an outside linebacker during his junior season, when he also played tight end and slot receiver, but he was really skinny and wasn’t recruited because he didn’t have great tape.

Rivers spent the summer before his senior year with his father in South Carolina, where he enrolled at a training center that monitored his diet and sleep patterns to help him exercise the right way and add strength and 10-15 pounds of mass. He became a dominant linebacker and helped Kinston High reach the state championship game in coach Nick Anderson’s second year.

But Rivers wasn’t a natural in the classroom, and his recruiting process was hampered by low SAT scores. It’s not that he was a bad student or didn’t have the character. Heck, he was dating the daughter of the football team’s chaplain. He just had to work harder than most to succeed in the classroom.

Along with that, the slender frame scared off bigger programs, even after the summer workout program and the extra weight-lifting classes in the spring of his senior year. And when John Rivers tried to get his son into Virginia Tech, coach Frank Beamer recommended Derek head to prep school for a year.

Derek certainly didn’t love the idea of attending Fork Union Military Academy, but after a couple of visits to the campus with his father, he understood it was a necessary steppingstone to playing college football. Coach John Shuman, who is in his fourth decade at Fork Union, has a long, accomplished history of helping players bridge the gap, and he was happy to bring in Rivers for a life-changing semester.

“You love to see kids come from a rough area and make it for themselves by doing it the right way,” Anderson said. “It’s a great story because he had to go about it in a roundabout way. He didn’t get frustrated. He just worked hard.”

Significant growth

Fork Union doesn’t have any direct affiliations with the military, but it surely doesn’t screw around. Students aren’t allowed to have cell phones. They’re awake at 6:15 a.m. every weekday, and have a loaded schedule until bed check at 10 p.m.

Rivers, who worked his way up from squad leader to platoon sergeant during his short stay, lived in the old barracks during his semester in 2012, and that dorm was ugly. It could be 100 degrees with swampy humidity down there in Virginia, yet somehow, the heat would turn itself on. Funny how that worked, Shuman mused.

And they were old school. Shuman kept individual stats during games, but he has always refused to broadcast them, merely conceding Rivers had “double-digit sacks.” Shuman recalled Rivers arrived as a 222-pounder and departed at 242 pounds, and he increased his 225-pound bench reps from two to 12. At the combine, Rivers’ 30 bench reps was tied for the fourth most among defensive linemen.

“We try to put on pounds but also drop the fat percentage so we’re lean, mean fighting machines. It’s not easy,” Shuman said. “I was highly impressed with his reps at the combine. ... Everything is tough here, but it’s magical. If you can do it, if you can buy into the system, it’s a magical thing.”

Making it happen

Virginia Tech declined Rivers after his semester at Fork Union, but that didn’t quell the celebration upon his acceptance to Youngstown State. He was a bit overwhelmed during his freshman season in 2013, but his father told him to identify his weaknesses and spend extra time in the weight room. It got to the point where the Youngstown State coaching staff asked Rivers if everything was OK because he spent so much time in the gym by himself.

It paid off again, though. Rivers had 13 sacks and 17 tackles for loss as a sophomore, and Pelini took over the program during his junior season. Pelini instantly appreciated Rivers’ pass-rushing ability, even if it was incredibly raw at the time, but he wanted to turn Rivers into an all-around player who could also stop the run and drop into coverage.

Pelini admired Rivers’ willingness to buy into the process, even though he only had eight sacks as a junior. Rivers committed to the details, the self-scouting and everything else that came with Pelini’s strict system.

Rivers was a coach’s dream as a leader because his work ethic was unquestionable and he could relate to anyone, young or old, regardless of their background. He was popular at high school camps, as an officer responsible for uniforms at Fork Union and again at Youngstown State. When Pelini had an issue with a player, whether it was on the field or in regard to skipping classes, he’d ask Rivers to handle it.

“I never asked him how he did it, but he did it,” Pelini said. “He accomplished his goal. Guys were going to listen to him because that’s who he is. Everybody respected Derek. Everybody likes him, but more importantly, everybody respected Derek because he brought that work ethic every single day. He was very consistent.”

Pelini’s relationship with Belichick goes back years, so Pelini knew he had a potential Patriot in his program. The two were talking about another prospect prior to the 2016 draft when Pelini mentioned Rivers as someone to monitor. Rivers, he said, checked every box that Belichick would want.

“Bill was looking into him for a long time, so I’m sure he knows what he is getting.” Pelini said.

As a senior, Rivers had 14 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss, helping to lead Youngstown State to the FCS playoffs for the first time in a decade and back to the national championship game for the first time since 1999. Before the draft, he impressed Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia during a film session when he visited Gillette Stadium.

So often overlooked and undervalued, Rivers might have found his long-term home with the defending Super Bowl champions. There’s no greater spotlight anywhere else in the football world.

“Belichick is an idol to everyone else in the NFL,” John Rivers said. “For Derek to be under his tutelage, that’s an honor. It’s a great thing.”

49ers' Joe Williams Took Break from Football to Come to Terms with Loss of Sister

By: Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer

SANTA CLARA, CA -- San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch couldn't shake five little words that kept popping into his head whenever Utah running back Joe Williams was mentioned before the NFL draft.

"He quit on his team," Lynch kept thinking. Those words ran counter to one of the guiding principles Lynch has been trying to instill in the 49ers' draft philosophy. No. 1 on the list of Lynch's requirements of a 49ers player's "spirit" was football passion. Anyone who chooses to walk away from the game, as Williams did in September of last season, was essentially discarded from consideration by Lynch.

"The talent was undeniable, but when you hear 'quit the team,' it was like 'no, not interested,'" Lynch said.

And yet, early on the draft's final day, Lynch and the 49ers not only used the 121st pick on Williams, but traded up 22 spots in the fourth round to do it.

So, how did Williams go from off the board to one of the 49ers' most intriguing additions? It started with a little extra film work from 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who knows a thing or two about finding mid- to late-round running backs and turning them into stars.

On what Shanahan called a "random, boring day" of watching prospects, he decided to put Williams' tape back on. Shanahan couldn't ignore what he saw, went back to Lynch and urged him to begin doing the proper diligence on Williams.

According to Lynch, that diligence was extensive. Running backs coach Bobby Turner talked to Williams on the phone nearly every day. Lynch called Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who was the first to open Lynch's eyes to the reality of why Williams walked away from football.

"Kyle said, 'Let’s be very clear, he did not quit the team,'" Lynch said. "He physically and mentally got tired and broke down and he asked for advice on what they should do. He stepped away. They had some injuries. Kyle went back to him and said, 'Hey, we’d love for you to come back, but I first have to ask your teammates.' They welcomed him back with open arms."

Williams attended Fork Union Military Academy, but when he went to the University of Connecticut, he lost the structure that had kept him out of trouble. After using a teammate's credit card, Williams was kicked off the team. He eventually landed at Utah, but never quite felt comfortable because of the lingering emotional effects of his 7-year old sister Kylee's death from a heart problem in 2006. Kylee had died in Williams' arms after falling out of her bed one night.

"The guilt and shame that I had put upon myself, because I didn’t act quickly enough for, you know, with my parents or to call 911," Williams said. "I always thought that it was my fault. Going throughout high school and college I was getting counseling, but I always tried to manipulate the system, because it was hard for me to feel [as] an adolescent at the time, that when your baby sister died it wasn’t your fault when you weren’t there. So, I really didn’t want to eat and take their advice and mourn the way I needed to."

"I had to lay it out on the line that football is what I drink and breathe," Williams said. "That’s what I wake up for in the morning and that’s how I want to provide for my family. They knew that. At first, they wanted to understand why I could walk away from football, but after telling them my journey of how I came to be, I felt as though they were empathetic about it and they understood that sometimes you have to put something you love to do on hold to do what’s right."

When Lynch hung up the phone, not only was he on board with drafting Williams, but also with doing whatever was necessary to get him. Williams will have to work his way up the depth chart, but there's a real possibility he will play a prominent role sooner than later.

"It’s a wonderful story and it turned from, 'I have no interest,' because my perception was anyone who quits a team I don’t want,'" Lynch said. "And then I learned about the kid and I got a great deal of respect for how far he’s come."

Up Next in FUMA Athletics

  • Fri., May 5 -- Prep Baseball vs. Hargrave Military Academy -- CANCELLED
  • Fri., May 5 -- Prep Lacrosse vs. Benedictine High School -- CANCELLED
  • Fri., May 5 -- Junior Prep Lacrosse vs. Benedictine High School -- CANCELLED
  • Fri., May 5 -- Outdoor Track & Field at Dogwood Track Classic -- 6:00 PM
  • Sat., May 6 -- Outdoor Track & Field at Dogwood Track Classic -- 6:00 PM
  • Tues., May 9 -- Junior Prep Baseball at St. Christopher's -- 4:00 PM
  • Tues., May 9 -- Junior Prep Lacrosse at Virginia Episcopal School -- 4:00 PM
  • Tues., May 9 -- Prep Baseball vs. St. Christopher's School -- 4:00 PM *
  • Wed., May 10 -- Prep Lacrosse at Christchurch School -- 5:00 PM
  • Thurs., May 11 -- Prep Baseball vs. Fuqua School -- 4:30 PM *
  • Thurs., May 11 -- Junior Prep Baseball at Fuqua School -- 4:30 PM
  • Fri., May 12 -- Prep Baseball at St. Christopher's -- 4:00 PM
  • Fri., May 12 -- Junior Prep Lacrosse at Powhatan High School -- 6:00 PM
  • Fri., May 12 -- Prep Lacrosse at New Covenant School -- 7:00 PM

Bold and Italics denote home contests.

* Denotes games being streamed on the Cube.

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