Kamide’s Korner: Patriot Administration Should Be Ashamed of Steinberg's Ouster

September 18 - Josh Steinberg has won nearly 75 percent of his games, his league’s championship in two of his four seasons, is widely respected by his peers, and by all accounts I’ve received, has tremendous support among current and former players and parents at Patriot.

My assumption has always been that would create a dream scenario for any athletic administrator. 

That isn’t the case for Brad Qualls, Patriot’s director of student activities who is apparently more concerned with how sharply the grass is trimmed around cutouts, the cleanliness of dugouts and attendance at boosters club meetings than what actually occurs between the lines. 

Last Monday, Qualls called Steinberg to his office - without the knowledge of the school’s principal, Mike Bishop - and informed him that he wouldn’t be renewing his contract for the 2020 season. More specifically, he attempted to coax the coach into resigning, indicating he’d like to have the opening posted on the county’s employment site the next day. 

Again, this without Bishop’s knowledge, according to what the principal told Steinberg. Bishop, reached by Steinberg the next day, asked the coach to hang tight until he was able to meet with Qualls. It took over a week for that to happen and a resolution to be made, culminating with this morning’s meeting making things official. Over a week where Steinberg was left in limbo regarding his status and had to postpone offseason workouts amid questions from players and parents as to why.

Patriot’s administration putting the coach through that was criminal. Get better. Get a hold of what’s going on in your building and in your athletic program. 

According to multiple reports, the majority of Qualls’ hangup with Steinberg centered around the baseball facility. He feels the coach wasn’t spending enough time working on the field - something mind you, that a football, basketball or soccer coach is rarely if ever tasked with. And many baseball coaches aren’t overburdened with as outside landscaping companies are generally hired to offset the maintenance.

So a big part of Qualls expelling his coach was for a perceived lack of time spent working on the field? Oh, you mean the same field his teams made a habit of winning on? Under Steinberg, the program won 35 of 42 home games, had a 14-game home winning streak from late 2016 to late 2018, and his teams have lost just twice at home to league opponents.

And it’s not like Patriot’s field is something out of The Sandlot. I’ve had coaches I’ve talked to describe it as “outstanding” and “among the best in the state” in my several conversations today.

This gets deeper, trust me. 

Qualls’ initial meeting with Steinberg happened on the coach’s first day back in his teaching capacity at the school after taking paternity leave following the birth of his first child. The first day back following the birth of his child. A day that’s generally full of smiles and congratulatory handshakes and hugs, spent sharing photos of the latest addition to his family, instead consisted of having his DSA take away another love in his life.

Not only is this situation a demonstration of poor institutional control, the timing of that meeting is an example of simply being a poor human being. 

Here’s my impression of what’s going on here. Qualls went rogue, and in reported cahoots with a select few others in and around the program, attempted to box Steinberg in. He attempted to force a resignation without his principal’s knowledge, hoping to achieve that and the ability to advertise the opening before the principal caught on to what had happened. 

I’ve been around high school baseball a long time. This is the worst I’ve ever seen a coach treated. Josh Steinberg deserved better than this. The Patriot baseball program deserved better than this. 

Brad Qualls should be ashamed, and I hope the area baseball community ensures he’s aware of that. 

Photo of Josh Steinberg by Fred Ingham

Patriot Won’t Retain Steinberg, ‘17 Region Coach of the Year

September 18 - One of the area’s most-successful coaches over the past four years, Patriot’s Josh Steinberg, was told this morning that his contract would not be renewed, the magazine has learned. 

The decision comes after school administration left the 2017 6A North Region Coach of the Year and two-time league Coach of the Year in limbo regarding his status for over a week. 

Steinberg was initially informed by the school’s director of student activities, Brad Qualls, of his decision on Sept. 9, the coach’s first day back from paternity leave following the birth of his first child. Reports indicate Qualls asked Steinberg to resign, a request the coach rebuffed. The school’s principal, Mike Bishop, was unaware of the meeting or Qualls’ intentions and on Sept. 10 he placed Steinberg in a holding pattern until he was able to meet with Qualls. 

It wasn’t until this morning that they met with the coach and revealed their decision. 

“It’s too bad, I feel for the guy. He’s one of the best-prepared coaches that my teams have competed against,” Centreville coach Scott Rowland said. “It’s hard to find good coaches period, and you fire one of the best coaches in the state of Virginia? I think it’s B.S.” 

Added Madison coach Mark ‘Pudge’ Gjormand: “I was surprised by that because he’s a class guy and he’s a really good baseball coach.”

Since he took the reins prior to the 2016 season following the departure of Sammy Serrano, the 31-year-old Steinberg guided Patriot to a 67-24 record, two league championships and to the Class 6 state tournament in 2017. That spring, he led the Nokesville school to the region final before falling to Oakton. 

The Pioneers reached the regional tournament in each of Steinberg’s four seasons, winning at least one game in the tournament each year.

“The program has flourished, just look at the record over the past four years,” said Jaden Minnick, who graduated in June and is now playing at Montgomery College in Maryland. “Over my four years, I’ve seen every player progress and get better in their time there.”

Steinberg played at Gar-Field for current Battlefield coach Jay Burkhart, then played at George Mason University. He served as an assistant at Patriot for two seasons and has coached for a number of years with the Marucci Stars travel program. 

“Josh is a stand-up guy,” Burkhart said. “Always a tough competitor as an athlete and a coach. He has been instrumental in helping kids and a huge asset to the baseball community.“

Added Osbourn Coach Andrew Haden: “Josh is a class act on and off the field. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve come across and is a role model to his student athletes and everyone he encounters. Very shocked by the news I saw.”

Qualls and Bishop did not return several attempts to reach them. 

Photo of Josh Steinberg by Fred Ingham

Johnson Named New West Potomac Coach

September 16 - Dustin Johnson, who spent six years as a college assistant and most recently served as a scout with the San Diego Padres, has been hired as the new head coach at West Potomac. 

The school’s director of student activities, Aaron Helmick, confirmed the hire earlier today. 

Johnson becomes the Wolverines’ fourth coach in three years but just the seventh in the program’s 34-year history. He replaces Jimmy Linza, who led the Alexandria school to a 16-6 record and a second straight Gunston District championship this past spring. Jason Hescock skippered the team on an interim basis to conclude the 2018 campaign after longtime coach Jim Sullivan’s midseason resignation. 

“We’re excited to have him a part of the Wolverine community,” Helmick said. “At the end of the day, we want the best candidates to work with our student-athletes, and we feel like he has a strong background and knowledge in the game of baseball and that he’ll be a good role model for our student-athletes. 

“I think it’s a solid recipe for success.”

Johnson, 33, pitched at Division II Bloomsburg (PA), then joined his alma mater’s staff for two seasons in 2010-11. He would later coach for three years at Binghamton, helping the New York school win two America East Conference championships to earn automatic berths in the NCAA Tournament. In 2014, he joined Gregg Ritchie’s staff at George Washington before being hired by San Diego, who he’d serve as a full-time Mid-Atlantic Region scout for from the fall of 2015 until last year. 

Ironically, it was Johnson who scouted former West Potomac right-hander Jamie Sara and sold the Padres in taking him in the 12th round of the Major League Baseball Draft in 2016. Sara decided against signing, choosing instead to pitch at William & Mary. He was selected in the 25th round by Philadelphia in this year’s draft and is pitching in the Phillies’ system. 

Once Johnson’s wife, Tara, had their first child, he decided to leave scouting and take a position with Fairfax County Public Schools as a third grade teacher at Fort Belvoir Elementary School. That allowed him to be home more rather than constantly on the road while scouting. 

“Being a dad became super important,” said Johnson, who has a bachelor’s in elementary education and a master’s in instructional technology. “I had to re-evaluate where I was, and wanting to get off the road and have an impact with kids led to teaching. And in being around the kids, I realized I missed coaching and missed being on the field.”

At West Potomac, he takes the reins of a program that has produced winning campaigns in six of its past seven seasons. The Wolverines will return three first-team all-district players in shortstop Aidan Sanderson, outfielder Justin Bassett and left-hander Adam Fischer, who has committed to pitch at William & Mary. 

“My intentions are to win and build on their success and build a program that people want to be a part of,” Johnson said. “I want kids to want to come play baseball at West Potomac. I want to be a rock for these kids, someone who is consistent, someone they can trust. 

“I’m super happy about this opportunity, super thankful for the people I’ve worked for in the past.”

Photos of Dustin Johnson courtesy of Binghamton Athletics

Stone Bridge Tabs Hayes as Program's 4th Skipper

September 10 - Andy Hayes has been hired as the new coach at Stone Bridge, the school announced today. 

“We are very excited to have Coach Hayes as our new baseball coach,” the school’s athletics director, Joan Windows, wrote via email this afternoon. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our baseball team.”

Hayes, 42, coached the past two seasons as an assistant at Salem, serving as the team’s hitting coach and helping the Spartans earn back-to-back Class 4 state tournament appearances. They won the program’s first state title in 2018, defeating Jamestown in the final. This past spring, they lost to Riverside in the state quarterfinals. Salem won 37 of 46 games in his two seasons on staff.

He replaces Mat Shannon, who stepped down after leading the Bulldogs to the Region 5C title and a berth in the Class 5 state tournament this spring. Shannon, who was named the region’s Coach of the Year, left to become an assistant director of student activities at Independence, which opened last month. He was 27-19 in his two seasons. 

Hayes, who played at Virginia Tech from 1995-97, inherits a program that has averaged 15.9 wins per season and won eight district championships since fielding its first team in 2001. He becomes the Bulldogs’ fourth head coach, following Sam Plank (2001-15), Andrew Baird (2016-17) and Shannon. 

"I have followed Stone Bridge Baseball throughout the years as well, and in my opinion, the program has the potential each and every year to be a championship contender. I am excited and honored to help build on that tradition,” said Hayes, who is the founder and owner of the Gameday Broadcast Network and has served as the Virginia High School League’s voice for football and basketball state tournament broadcasts since 2007. 

The son of Tom Hayes, a longtime college football and NFL assistant coach, Hayes won a state championship as a high schooler in Norman, OK prior to playing at Virginia Tech. He moved with his wife, Courtney, and two sons to Roanoke to be closer to her family five years ago and has commuted across the state while operating his business. This summer, the family relocated back to Loudoun County. 

Now, Hayes will look to continue the success at a program that is just five years removed from a state title. The Bulldogs play in the Potomac District, one of the state’s toughest leagues, and understands the challenge the program will have competing with the likes of annual contenders Briar Woods and Freedom-South Riding and now with new additions Riverside and Woodgrove. 

"It starts with culture, and everyone has to buy in to building something special,” Hayes said. “It takes incredible discipline from everyone in the program to win a championship. I want to see us have fun, but also play with tremendous discipline, effort and passion." 

Photo of Andy Hayes courtesy of Salem Baseball

Kamide’s Korner: Madison’s Sports Community Loses Its Lens

September 6 - Albert Jacquez was one of those rare individuals who could have an impact in sports without ever stepping between the lines. 

A father to two Madison High School student-athletes, Alex and Evan, Mr. Jacquez was the true definition of what one could want a sports dad to be. A successful businessman with a demanding job downtown - he served on both the Clinton and Bush administrations - who still made time to support his kids ... as well as many others. A former high school athlete himself, Mr. Jacquez carried himself with a quiet confidence and grace that left an impression on anyone he came into contact with. 

“He was a really special person, just a person you really respected,” Madison coach Mark ‘Pudge’ Gjormand said. “He helped me to grow up as a coach and as a person. We became very good friends over time. We would go to dinner, it was much more than sports.”

On Aug. 18, Gjormand along with the Madison and Vienna sports communities received the jarring news of Mr. Jacquez’ passing while en route to the family’s vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard. In the days since his death, the community has rallied behind the family that has been such a presence at the school for so many years. 

If you’ve been to a Warhawk sporting event over the past dozen years, chances are you’ve seen Mr. Jacquez - always with his camera in tow and a warm smile for anyone he might encounter. In the years since Alex and Evan graduated and went on to play collegiately in baseball at Lehigh University and in football at the College of William & Mary, respectively, he remained a fixture at Madison. 

His sons played baseball and football, so naturally he took many photos at those games. But he also did so at boys and girls lacrosse, basketball, soccer and softball games. His online photo portfolio has just shy of 17,000 action shots taken at Madison sporting events. Since 2007, he managed the Warhawks’ baseball website, and he and his wife, Lynn - who has spent countless hours volunteering with the Vienna Little League, Vienna Mustangs travel program and Madison’s football and baseball teams over the years - have continued to donate time and money to the program, even traveling to support the Warhawks over spring break trips to South Carolina and Florida. 

Yes, his camera would also make those trips.

“Those people behind the scenes, the volunteers, they are who really make it run. They’re who make high school and youth sports go,” Gjormand said. “They usually come and go with their kids, but Albert was very unique, he really became a part of it and became an extension of our coaching staff. He went above and beyond, and it wasn’t just baseball. He took photos for so many different sports at Madison. 

“His love for the school and his love for the kids was special.”

If I was covering a game Mr. Jacquez was at, I knew I could put my camera away as he’d take much better photos anyway, and would enjoy sharing them with me. Our readers have benefited over the years from the color those images have added to our stories. As have the readers of The Washington Post, the Sun-Gazette, Gameday Magazine and other publications that he provided photos to. 

So I’d catch up with him for a few minutes - I knew he enjoyed talking about the Nationals, the Warhawks and updating me of the latest with his sons, who I coached with the Vienna Mustangs - then I’d leave him to continue with the hobby he had so much passion for. 

Mr. Jacquez was, quite simply, the pure definition of a volunteer and a gift to the Vienna sporting community. Which is fitting, considering he was born on Christmas Eve. An outgoing and generous member of the community, a supporter and volunteer in youth and high school sports, and above all, a great husband and father. 

He was all of the above, and we were all lucky to have him in our lives. 

For information on Albert Jacquez’ viewing and to read his full obituary, click here. The family has requested in lieu of flowers that memorials be made to Madison’s athletics department, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, or to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

Photo of Albert Jacquez by Jill Hecht

Prep Notebook: Tolson Changes College Destination, Will Play at Longwood

September 2 - Mike Tolson, a member of the 2019 NOVA Nine Team and the VHSL Class 5 State Player of the Year, had a late-summer change to his college destination and accepted a scholarship offer to play at Longwood. 

Tolson went 10-0 with a 1.55 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 77 innings to lead the Indians (24-3) to the program’s first state championship. He had initially signed to play at Western Carolina. 

“It’s great, it worked out really well,” Stafford coach Tommy Harrison said. “I couldn’t be happier for him and his family.”

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound right hander and infielder will be given an opportunity to play both ways for the Lancers, who went 11-41 overall and 5-22 in the Big South Conference last spring under coach Ryan Mau. 

Area’s Top Football Performances from Week 1

Alex Jreige had 32 carries for 179 yards and a touchdown to lead Madison to a 15-13 win over Marshall in one of several notable performances by area baseball players on the first weekend of high school football. 

The Warhawks’ sophomore running back was joined by four others who had big Week 1 games: Annandale junior quarterback Danny Salisbury, South County junior running back Charlie Miska, C.D. Hylton junior quarterback Tyler Mitchell and Independence sophomore receiver Josh Hand.

Salisbury had 22 carries for 101 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-34 loss to W.T. Woodson and Hand finished with seven catches for 136 yards and a touchdown in a 53-43 loss to Skyline. Mitchell helped the Bulldogs come back to defeat Mount Vernon, passing for 106 yards and a late touchdown in a 35-28 win. And Miska had 10 carries for 49 yards and caught a 35-yard touchdown in a 28-6 win over Woodbridge. 

Beliveau Transfers from IMG Academy to Paul VI

Griffin Beliveau, a Maryland native who attended the IMG Academy in Florida last year, has transferred to Paul VI Catholic for his junior year. 

The 6-foot-2, 160-pound right-hander went 1-0 with a 2.21 ERA in four appearances last spring with IMG’s Gray team, which finished 14-11. He previously played locally with the C5T Elite and Diamond Skills travel programs prior to attending the Florida academy. 

Beliveau joins a Panthers staff that includes junior right-hander Daniel Quintana, who committed over the weekend to James Madison. He’ll help fill a void after the graduation of ace Nick Ortega and the transfer of Bradley Gagen and Bryce Dolby to Independence. 

Stone Bridge, West Potomac, Riverbend Near Coaching Hires

Stone Bridge is reportedly set to announce a hire soon and West Potomac has completed its interviews as area schools aim to fill head coaching vacancies. 

Openings also exist at Riverbend and Marshall, which opened last week with the departure of Aaron Tarr to become an assistant at Georgetown. Marshall has not yet advertised the position on the Fairfax County Public Schools website. The vacancy at Riverbend has been open since June. 

Over the summer, Herndon hired Steve Frank and Champe hired Scott Van Dusseldorp to fill the other area coaching openings. 

Photos of, clockwise from left, Mike Tolson courtesy of Stafford Baseball, Alex Jreige courtesy of Madison Football and Danny Salisbury courtesy of Annandale Football

Triantos, O’Connor Transferring from 6-Time WCAC Champion St. John’s

August 31 - Two talented young players, James Triantos and Jack O’Connor, will not return to St. John’s next spring as the Washington, D.C. power seeks an unprecedented seventh consecutive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship.

The two Northern Virginia natives helped the Cadets go 30-3 and win the WCAC and D.C. city championships in their first prep seasons, and Triantos became the first freshman ever to earn first-team All-Met honors by The Washington Post. O’Connor has enrolled at Bishop O’Connell and Triantos plans to transfer prior to the spring semester, his father confirmed earlier this week. It’s undecided where he will enroll.

O’Connor, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander and first baseman who resides in Arlington, committed last fall to play at the University of Virginia. He was 1-1 with a 0.54 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 13 innings and went 6-for-12 with eight RBI while serving mostly as a pinch hitter for a deep Cadets lineup. 

Triantos, a North Carolina recruit who resides in McLean, quickly became a two-way threat on the mound and in the middle of the order as coach Mark Gibbs’ club became the first to win six straight WCAC titles. He hit .495 with a .576 on-base percentage, 49 hits - including 22 that went for extra bases - along with 12 steals and 39 RBI. On the mound, he was 6-0 with a 0.44 ERA and 41 strikeouts to eight walks in 32 innings. 

Both players are rated among Prep Baseball Report’s top Class of 2022 recruits in D.C. and Virginia, Triantos ranked at No. 3 and O’Connor at No. 5. Two others on that list - left-hander Bradley Gagen (No. 6) and catcher Mason Balsis (No. 8) - also transferred over the summer in what was a busy offseason for player movement. Gagen, who recently decommitted from Virginia, transferred from Paul VI Catholic to Independence, Loudoun County’s newest school. Balsis, a Virginia recruit, has moved over from Osbourn Park to Patriot. 

Other area Division I recruits who transferred over the summer include: sophomore right-hander Bryce Dolby (Virginia Tech), who went from Paul VI to Independence; sophomore outfielder Elijah Lambros (Virginia Tech), who left defending VHSL Class 5 state champion Stafford to attend Fredericksburg Christian Academy, a small VISAA Division II private school; and left-hander Brandon Clarke (Alabama), who left Rock Ridge to attend Independence. 

Photos of James Triantos, left, and Jack O’Connor, right, by Mark Seal

Recruiting Notebook: Following Kuhn’s Departure, Gagen Decommits from Virginia

August 28 - Independence’s Bradley Gagen has decommitted from Virginia following the departure of longtime pitching coach Karl Kuhn, who last week was named as the new head coach at Radford. 

The sophomore left-hander, who transferred from Paul VI Catholic over the summer, wrote via Twitter that he had “made the decision to reopen my college recruitment,” 10 months after initially committing to the Charlottesville school. Gagen was 3-2 with a save, a 2.33 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 30 innings with the Panthers this past spring, and joins Brandon Clarke (Alabama) and Bryce Dolby (Virginia Tech) as Division I pitching recruits who are transferring into Loudoun County’s newest school. 

Earlier this summer, he helped his EvoShield Canes travel team win the title at the Perfect Game WWBA 15U National Championship in Georgia. He’s the No. 13-rated recruit in Prep Baseball Report’s ranking of Class of 2022 players in Virginia and Washington, D.C. 

Gagen’s decision comes two months after Patriot senior right-hander Riley Eikhoff decommitted from Virginia. Eikhoff has since made a commitment to Coastal Carolina. The Cavaliers could also lose Potomac Falls lefty Nate Savino, a projected early pick in next year’s Major League Baseball Draft. Bishop O’Connell’s 6-foot-9 senior southpaw Jake Berry is also reportedly on the radar of professional scouts. 

Other area pitchers committed to the Cavaliers include Justice junior lefty Dean Kampschror and St. John’s (D.C.) sophomore righty Jack O’Connor, a resident of Arlington. Justice coach Randy Lightle said tonight that Kampschror had been in touch with the Virginia coaching staff and remains committed to the program. 

Broad Run’s Rebok Commits to Towson

Justin Rebok committed earlier this month to play at Towson, becoming Broad Run’s first Division I recruit since 2017 graduate Zach Buck went on to play at Holy Cross. 

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior right-hander has compiled a 3.72 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 47 innings in 18 appearances over the past two seasons. He also hit .317 with a .408 on-base percentage and 15 RBI this past spring as the Spartans went 16-10 and made their first state tournament appearance since 2011. 

“Justin’s an excellent example of a kid who has worked hard, trusted the process of getting better each day and focused on helping the team win any way he can,” Broad Run coach Tommy Meier wrote via text message.

Rebok plays in the offseason with the Diamond Elite travel program. 

Towson went 14-39 overall and 7-17 in the Colonial Athletic Association this past season. 

Estridge Latest Battlefield Hurler to Commit to Division I Program

Sophomore pitcher Carson Estridge committed earlier today to West Virginia, becoming Battlefield’s sixth Division I pitching recruit since 2016. 

The 6-foot-5, 175-pound right-hander will join juniors Jackson Baird and Cole Snead on a talented young Bobcats pitching staff in the spring. Baird has committed to pitch at George Mason and Snead will pitch at Randolph-Macon. All three pitchers - Estridge, Baird and Snead - play in the offseason with the Marucci Stars travel program. 

Estridge and Baird join Jake Agnos (East Carolina), James Beasley (Hofstra/George Mason), Keagan McGinnis (Virginia Tech) and Zach Agnos (East Carolina) as recent Battlefield hurlers to pitch at the Division I level. 

Photos of, clockwise from left, Bradley Gagen courtesy of Paul VI Baseball, Broad Run’s Justin Rebok by Fred Ingham and Battlefield’s Carson Estridge courtesy of the Marucci Stars

Injury Cuts Savino’s USA Baseball Tenure Short

August 28 - Due to an undisclosed injury, Potomac Falls senior left-hander Nate Savino will not be with the USA Baseball 18U National Team for the upcoming WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Gijang, South Korea. 

“Unfortunately, due to injury, Nate Savino is no longer with the team,” a member of USA Baseball’s media relations staff wrote this morning. The staff member was not able to confirm the nature of the injury.

Savino, who last pitched in a game on Aug. 15 during the USA Baseball’s trials period, is returning home after spending the past few days with the team for tuneup games in Taiwan against Chinese Taipei. The University of Virginia recruit was named to manager Jack Leggett’s 20-man roster earlier this month, becoming the eighth player from Northern Virginia to earn a spot on the 18U National Team. 

He was hoping to become the third area player to help the team win a gold medal at the World Cup. Jeff Baker (Gar-Field) and Andy McGuire (Madison) helped the team to championships in 1999 and 2012, respectively. 

Savino is one of the country’s top-rated senior prospects. He’s currently ranked No. 6 in the country by Prep Baseball Report and No. 4 nationally by Perfect Game.

A two-time NOVA Nine Team selection, the southpaw went 10-4 with a 0.73 ERA and 180 strikeouts to 32 walks in 86.1 innings over the past two seasons at Potomac Falls. This summer, he compiled a 2.27 ERA over 12.1 innings during stints in Major League Baseball’s PDP League, the MLB High School All-Star Game, the Perfect Game All-American Classic, the Under Armour All-America Game, and with USA Baseball.

Team USA is the four-time defending champion at the World Cup and will Friday’s opener against South Africa on a 16-game winning streak at the tournament. The team will continue pool play against Chinese Taipei on Saturday, Japan on Sunday, Panama on Monday and Spain on Tuesday. The top three teams from both six-team pools will advance to bracket play, which is held from Sept. 5-8. 

Photo of Nate Savino courtesy of USA Baseball

Briar Woods’ Cmeyla to Play at Dartmouth College

August 27 - Senior catcher Nathan Cmeyla has committed to play at Dartmouth College, Briar Woods coach Rob Sikora confirmed this evening. 

A two-time first-team All-Region 5C selection and one of the area’s top remaining uncommitted players from the Class of 2020, Cmeyla chose the Ivy League school over offers from other highly-regarded academic institutions. This past spring, he helped the Falcons go 20-5 and win the Potomac District championship en route to second-team Class 5 all-state honors. 

Cmeyla plays in the offseason with the Dirtbags travel program and helped the North team win gold at the Commonwealth Games the past two summers. He becomes the sixth Briar Woods player since 2017 to commit to a Division I program. 

“We are extremely excited for Nathan and his family,” Sikora wrote via text message. “He’s an outstanding student-athlete that has a bright future ahead of him. His hard work - on and off the field - has been a large reason for our success over the past two years.”

Over those two seasons, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Cmeyla has batted .399 with 59 hits - including 22 that have gone for extra bases - along with 41 RBI. His athleticism allowed him to make a seamless transition from second base to catcher, and he had eight stolen bases this past spring - a high number considering the backstop often had a courtesy runner once he reached base.

He will be part of a talented returning core at Briar Woods that includes junior infielder Evan Smith, a West Virginia recruit, and senior Jacob Weaver, one of the area’s best defensive outfielders who will play at Division II Lincoln Memorial in Tennessee. Senior right-hander Kyle Lewis also made his college commitment today and will pitch for Division III Marymount.

Cmeyla will become the first player from Northern Virginia to suit up for the Big Green since Ben Socher (Madison) did so from 2014-17. Dartmouth went 15-26 overall and 8-13 in the Ivy League this past season under longtime coach Bob Whalen. 

Photo of Nathan Cmeyla courtesy of Briar Woods Baseball