February 10 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.

Contents:

  • Athlete of the Week - Jonathan Muniz (Wrestling)
  • Weekly Recap
  • Featured Stories: Swimming, Wrestling, Prep Basketball
  • Chili Wars Champions
  • Appalachian State's Griffin Kinney (FUMA PG Class of 2014)
  • Carlos Dixon Begins Coaching Career (FUMA PG Class of 2000)
  • Next week's schedule

Athlete of the Week

Jonathan Muniz -- Wrestling

Wrestling's Jonathan Muniz has been named this week's Athlete of the Week. After a traumatic injury, Muniz came back to be one of two Fork Union wrestlers to win a Prep League title in his senior season. The New Jersey native is ranked No. 5 in the state.

"Muniz is the definition of perseverance. He has battled through injury to come back and try to be an all-state wrestler this year. Earning All-Prep is just the beginning for this cadet." -- Coach Hall
Jonathan Muniz winning his match against Armstrong High School.

Weekly Recap

  • Fri., Feb. 3 -- Junior Prep Basketball at Woodberry Forest -- WIN, 47-43
  • Fri., Feb. 3 -- Prep Basketball at Woodberry Forest -- LOSS, 53-66
  • Sat., Feb. 4 -- Junior Prep Basketball at John Paul the Great -- LOSS, 45-57
  • Sat., Feb. 4 -- Prep Basketball at John Paul the Great -- LOSS, 55-82
  • Sat., Feb. 4 -- Swimming at Virginia Prep League Championships -- THIRD
  • Sat., Feb. 4 -- Wrestling at Virginia Prep League Championships -- SECOND
  • Tues., Feb. 7 -- Junior Prep Basketball vs. St. Christopher's -- LOSS, 33-37
  • Tues., Feb. 7 -- Prep Basketball vs. St. Christopher's -- LOSS, 57-64
  • Wed., Feb. 8 -- Wrestling vs. Blue Ridge -- WIN, 66-18

Swimming Places Third at Prep League Championships

Saturday, February 4, 2017 -- Meet Recap

RICHMOND, Va. -- Fork Union Swimming and Diving finished the regular high school season swimming schedule with a third-place finish at the Virginia Prep League meet this past weekend in Richmond, Va. The team posted quite a few top-16 performances as well as many personal bests and in season top times. Those finishes are as follows:

  • 200 Medley Relay: 7th - A Relay
  • 200 Free: Pitts 3rd (1:48.61), Khalil 5th & Leydig 16th
  • 200 IM: Youssef 3rd (2:03.08), Smith 11th, Hughes 12th & Greenspon 15th
  • 50 FR: Gemma 2nd (21.82), Warren 13th, Gustafson 15th & Ebright 16th
  • 100 Fly: Khalil 1st (52.93) & Pitts 6th
  • Diving: Fowler 13th & Lewis 14th
  • 100 FR: Gemma 2nd (47.74), Warren 12th & Gustafson 15th
  • 500 FR: Hughes 8th (5:25.26), Smith 9th, Leydig 11th & Khalil 15th
  • 200 Free Relay: 3rd - A Relay (1:28.80)
  • 100 Breast: Youssef 2nd (1:01.77) & Greenspon 11th
  • 400 Free Relay: 3rd - A Relay (3:15.29)

This finish is higher than the team's fifth-place finish at this meet just one year ago and comes on the end of a month where the team posted a 10-2 dual meet record and a first-place finish at the FUMA January Invitational.

"I am happy with where the team is as we head into championship season," says head coach Ryan Campbell. "We have qualified a total of 15 for the VISAA state meet and we have several that have either qualified for Sectionals, NCSA's or Senior Champs. I am looking forward to seeing how they do in the coming weeks as they start into their taper!"

Fork Union Swimming & Diving will next compete at the VISAA State Swimming & Diving Championships which is to be held 17-18 February at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center in Christiansburg, VA.

Wrestling Places Second at Prep League Championships

Saturday, February 4, 2017 -- Meet Recap

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Fork Union wrestling team placed second overall at the Virginia Prep League Championships this past Saturday on the campus of Collegiate. The Blue Devil's finish is the highest finish in over 10 years for the program.

"I am very pleased with our performance, but we realized that we have a lot to work on to prepare for the state meet," said head coach Dean Hall. "The Prep League was a solid gauge for us to see where we are, and where we need to be. We look for several wrestlers to bring home all-state honors."

Fork Union recorded two Prep League Champions, as Zion Phifer won his 152-weight class and Jonathan Muniz won his 145-weight class.

Fork Union will return to the mat Friday, Feb. 17 when it travels to the VISAA State Meet at the Arthur Ashe Center in Richmond, Va.

Prep Basketball, Wrestling Honored its Seniors on Senior Night

The Fork Union's Prep basketball and wrestling programs honored its seniors this past week at each team's final home contest of the season.

Despite a 64-57 setback to St. Christopher's on Tuesday night, Fork Union celebrated its four senior basketball players: Stephen Hamilton, Mccall Warner, Detwon Shelton and Denzel Hunter-Shaw.

Shelton led the squad with 26 points.

On Wednesday, the wrestling program honored its 10 seniors prior to a dual match against Blue Ridge School. The following cadets competed for the final time on campus: Jonathan Muniz, Gavin Tomchick, Tim Bolton, Mathew Dively, Corey Jameson, Cameron Wheelhouse, Jacob Marks, Andrew Morris, Travis Gibson and Chris Kaulfers.

The Blue Devils defeated Blue Ridge, 66-18.

For your commitment to Fork Union athletics and your embodiment of the core values of Fork Union Military Academy, we thank you seniors and we wish you well in your future endeavors. We thank the parents and families of these seniors as well for your support of your sons in their time here and we thank you for sharing these outstanding young men with us in these formative years of their lives. -- Fork Union Athletics

Athletic Department Wins Annual Chili Wars Thursday

FUMA Athletics Defeats Echo Company, 140-137

The Athletic Department was named Champions of the annual Chili Wars this past Thursday. The competition was a close one, as Athletics defeated Echo Company by only three votes.

The Department won over the crowd ovwe with a non-traditional white chicken chili, while Echo Company put up a big fight with a traditional beef chili.

The Athletics Department was led by Director of Athletics Brooks Berry, Director of Athletic Facilities Rich Taddei, Director of Sports Information Kelly Shuman and PG Football's Defensive Coordinator Reggie Barnette.

Changing Sports, Hairstyles Help Kinney Evolve into App State Standout

By Bret Strelow, Winston-Salem Journal

BOONE — A 6-foot-8 lacrosse standout and 2014 military school graduate with a blond "man bun" hairstyle has become a double-double threat for Appalachian State's basketball team.

Like the homework assignment that threatened to derail his college recruitment, the story of Griffin Kinney's improbable rise is no joke.

Now a 240-pound college junior, Kinney is averaging 10.2 points and 7.4 rebounds in Sun Belt Conference play for App State, which will return to action Saturday with a home game against league co-leader Georgia State. He has come a long way since excelling more in lacrosse at Hayes High School in Ohio and spending a post-graduate year at Fork Union Military Academy in hopes of attracting Division I basketball opportunities.

"He played hard as heck," third-year App State coach Jim Fox said. "Where we were building our program from, we thought if he plays hard like this — and surviving Fork Union said a lot about his toughness — that he was a guy who could set the culture of our program."

With a tall, 195-pound frame, Kinney was a high-scoring attackman for Hayes lacrosse teams that won back-to-back club division state championships in 2012 and 2013. His basketball career, which lacked AAU experience or exposure, began to take off during the same stretch.

Kinney averaged less than five points and five rebounds as a high school junior, but the positive response to his vocal leadership immediately after a practice injury to 6-6 senior Jacob Bosiokovic, an all-conference player, served as a turning point.

Kinney didn't pick up any Division I scholarship offers after averaging 15 points and 8.3 rebounds as a senior at Hayes, so he headed to central Virginia and played one year at a Fork Union program that has produced such players as North Carolina alumnus Shammond Williams and current App State assistant coach Mantoris Robinson, who played his college ball at Winthrop.

In the spring of 2014, when a bulked-up Kinney averaged 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds for Fork Union, App State hired Fox. He added VMI assistant Jason Allison, who had been recruiting Kinney, to the Mountaineers' staff. Before Fox visited Fork Union to watch Kinney for the first time, Kinney said he received eight demerits for failing to complete a homework assignment.

"They said April Fools' Day was when the homework was due, and I thought it was a joke," he said.

When a Fork Union basketball player was given demerits, he couldn't practice until he erased them through running, with one demerit translating to 1 mile while carrying a concrete-filled rifle. Kinney said he ran all 8 miles on the day before Fox's arrival so he could compete in front of the new App State coach.

Kinney also received Division I offers from Presbyterian and VMI, another military school in Virginia, but he wasn't interested in attending college in another highly regimented environment. He chose the Mountaineers instead of exploring junior college options closer to his hometown.

Kinney averaged 15 minutes a game as a 220-pound freshman reserve and added nearly 20 more pounds before the start of his sophomore year, when he became a starter.

"For me to play how I wanted to in this league, how the coaches want me to, the physicality it calls for, I knew I had to gain some weight," Kinney said.

The pounds have increased steadily.

So has his hair length.

Kinney said he had long hair for most of his childhood but sported a buzz cut during his year of military school. He still had short hair during his freshman year in Boone, but that was the last time he cut it.

Kinney now stands out as a muscular, 6-8 post player with a "man bun" or "top knot," depending on naming preferences.

"Someone called it a 'man pony,' which I wasn't even opposed to — it must have come out during the game," Kinney said with a laugh. "They're all compliments to me. College, this might be my last chance to grow my hair out, because I'm going to have to get a real job at some point."

Kinney said he does intend to cut his hair "soon" and donate it to the Locks of Love organization that provides hairpieces to children suffering from medically related hair loss. In Samsonian fashion, the hair growth has coincided with extra strength and production, as Kinney has posted five double-doubles in the past 12 games for a 6-16 team that relies heavily on sophomores and freshmen.

In his first official game, with App State returning to his home state and playing at Ohio, Kinney fouled out in five minutes. Now an upperclassman, he is much more comfortable with the speed and physicality of the college game.

"Nobody really recruited him, and he fit in with how we wanted to build it," Fox said. "I think he's an all-league player. With the help of our coaches, he's really made himself into a heck of a player."

Carlos Dixon '00 Returns to the US to Coach after Playing Pro Ball Overseas

By Mike London, Salisbury Post

CHARLOTTE Carlos Dixon could have squeezed another year or two out of his basketball playing career, but with his 35th birthday approaching last summer, the South Rowan graduate had a decision to make.

"There were a couple of offers to think over," Dixon said. "I could have gone back to Bahrain for another season."

Bahrain, an island nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia, is 7,000 miles away. Dixon has learned to deal with endless plane flights as well as barriers in language and customs during his long basketball odyssey. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard has drilled 3-pointers on four continents and has learned how to hail a taxi or get a meal in a half-dozen languages, so playing a familiar game in a strange place is no longer an issue for him.

But he knew he wasn't getting any younger. He decided the timing was right to move on to the next phase of his life.

"I was just a kid from Salisbury, a small town, but basketball allowed me to see all the corners of the world, and I consider that a great blessing." Dixon said. "But it's time to pass on some of my knowledge to the younger guys. It was time to get into coaching and see what kind of opportunities were there for me."

As an athlete who earned a degree from Virginia Tech before putting his heart and sweat into 11 seasons of pro basketball, mostly in China, Korea, Argentina and Japan, Dixon had instant credibility.

"I sent out e-mails to a lot of schools in the Carolinas," Dixon said. "Division I and II. Queens University got back to me right away. My first chance to coach came with a great program. Queens welcomed me with open arms."

Dixon became part of a five-man staff at Queens, one of four assistants for head coach Bart Lundy at the respected Charlotte school.

Dixon was accepted immediately by the players.

"I got a chance to work with some of our players during a summer camp, and I think the players Googled me and saw that I'd played some," Dixon said. "They've made the transition easy for me."

Queens (21-1) is a D-II powerhouse, ranked seventh nationally and winning by an average margin of 15 points. Queens leads the South Atlantic Conference, a tough league that also includes schools such as Lincoln Memorial, Wingate, Catawba, Carson-Newman and Newberry.

Queens doesn't compete in football or baseball. Athletically, basketball is king.

"We've got at least four guys that should have a chance to play professionally," Dixon said. "I give them some advice, and it means a lot to me to have a chance to help them. The biggest thing for them to realize is that there are a lot of talented guys out there who want to play pro ball. They have to keep working on their skills every day."

Dixon's duties include a little of everything. He handles scouting assignments and he's heavily involved in recruiting.

There are a wide range of arenas and gyms in the SAC, ranging from the 5,000-seat Tex Turner Arena to Brevard's 1,000-seat Boshamer Gym. Dixon has enjoyed experiencing those new venues on game days.

"Some places the crowd is right on top of you," Dixon said.

Dixon played only two varsity seasons at South Rowan after transferring from Salisbury High. South played in the 4A Central Piedmont Conference in those days against some tremendous talent, especially from R.J. Reynolds and West Forsyth.

In his senior season with the Raiders (1998-99), South won only two league games and only played 25 total games, but Dixon set a school record that still stands by pouring in 610 points. His 24.4 points per game that season remains a school record, as does his career average of 18.8 points per game. He played in the East-West All-Star Game in Greensboro the summer after graduating.

Dixon signed with UNC Greensboro, but when UNC Greensboro coach Randy Peele was fired, Dixon was released from his commitment. He elected to attend Fork Union Military Academy for a year, and his profile was raised considerably playing against top-notch competition. After that year, he had offers from Virginia Tech, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Providence, Texas, South Carolina and Alabama, among others.

He chose Virginia Tech, partly because Peele had been hired there as an assistant for head coach Ricky Stokes.

Dixon became a solid player for struggling Virginia Tech teams that competed in the Big East Conference during his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons.

Dixon scored 21 points in his college debut. He averaged double figures each of those three seasons — 11.1, then 12.2, then 13.8 points per game.

A fractured foot sidelined Dixon prior to his senior season, but it was a blessing in disguise. Sitting out a season as a redshirt meant that Dixon was still on campus for Virginia Tech's initial season of Atlantic Coast Conference competition in 2004-05. He had a fine year for coach Seth Greenberg, and many of his memorable college moments came that season.

"Coach Greenberg made me more of a complete player," Dixon said. "He wanted me to post up more, attack more."

As a senior, competing in the ACC, Dixon averaged 13.8 points per game while shooting 41.2 percent from 3-point range. He averaged a career-high 4.5 rebounds. Virginia Tech went 16-14, its best season in many years, and played in the NIT.

Dixon always will have a place in Virginia Tech lore because of his steal-and-dunk against Clemson that clinched the first ACC win in the Hokies' roundball history.

Dixon made a game-winning jumper that season against Georgia Tech and had a six-steal game against Wake Forest, but it was an upset of Duke that provided his fondest college memory. He had 18 points and nine rebounds against the Blue Devils — tormenting J.J. Redick — and he came through with a game-deciding assist when two Duke players appeared to have him trapped.

"I didn't get recruited by any of the big schools in North Carolina," said Dixon, a Florida State fan growing up. "So beating Duke felt great."

He scored 1,348 points at Virginia Tech and had 183 steals.

Then he was invited to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a showcase where NBA scouts sized up the standout college seniors with NBA potential.

It was a temporary disappointment when he went undrafted by the NBA, but he turned that adversity into a long, productive pro career overseas.

Argentina was his favorite place to play. His only experience in Europe wasn't a positive one — he found himself in a surprisingly rough league in France — but in Asia he found the free-wheeling uptempo style of ball he loved.

His best seasons came in Japan, where he was Honorable Mention for the all-league team three times and played on championship squads. There were seasons in which he shot better than 50 percent while leading squads with exotic names such as the Ryukyu Golden Kings, Iwate Big Bulls, Fukoza Rizing and Gunma Crane Thunders.

It's the first time Dixon has been in the states at this time of year since he was in college. He's making the most of it.

His older brother, Marvin, coaches Barber-Scotia in Concord, so they're not far apart. Over the weekend, he sent out social media birthday greetings to his mother, Hattie Steele, who still lives in Salisbury.

It's different competing as a coach, but Dixon is making the adjustment.

"It's still basketball," Dixon said with a laugh. "I just have to dress up a little bit."

Up Next in FUMA Athletics

  • Fri., Feb. 10 -- Middle School Basketball at Charlottesville Catholic -- 4:00 PM
  • Fri., Feb. 10 -- Junior Prep Basketball at Christchurch School -- 4:00 PM
  • Fri., Feb. 10 -- Prep Basketball at Christchurch School -- 5:30 PM
  • Fri., Feb. 10 -- PG Basketball vs. Saint Ignatios Prep -- 6:45 PM
  • Sat., Feb. 11 -- Indoor Track & Field at Prep League Championship -- 1:00 PM
  • Sat., Feb. 11 -- PG Basketball vs. Saint Ignatios Prep -- 2:00 PM
  • Tues., Feb. 14 -- Middle School Basketball vs. Charlottesville Catholic -- 4:30 PM
  • Tues., Feb. 14 -- Junior Prep Basketball at Saint Anne's Belfield -- 4:45 PM
  • Tues., Feb. 14 -- Prep Basketball at Saint Anne's Belfield -- 6:15 PM
  • Tues., Feb. 14 -- PG Basketball vs. Massanutten Military Academy -- 6:45 PM

Bold and Italics denote home contests.

All home basketball events will be streamed live on the CUBE. Click here to see the event schedule.

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