December 14 - He wears several hats, and each time he puts one on area baseball seems to benefit.
Rob Hahne leads our list of the top five most influential people in Northern Virginia baseball, a title earned from serving and excelling in a number of capacities that have benefited the area game over the past decade-plus. The magazine’s list of the area’s most influential figures is based on a survey of several coaches, administrators and contributors and is based on their reach and impact on the local baseball community.
Here’s our list of the top five most influential baseball people in Northern Virginia, followed by notes on others who were considered.
1. Rob Hahne - Hahne holds several baseball-related titles and has been the biggest youth baseball advocate in Northern Virginia over the past decade. He is the executive director of the Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League (NVTBL) - the nation’s largest travel league - as well as the president of the Fairfax County Baseball Council and the head coach at Westfield High School. When his son, Kyle, was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2010, he established Kyle’s Kamp, which has raised over $2,000,000 for pediatric cancer research and care for Children's National through its several annual fundraising efforts and events.
2. John Porter - He’s the first name coaches as well as team, school or league administrators think of regarding umpires in the area. Porter is the commissioner of the Northern Virginia Baseball Umpires Association and Mid-Atlantic Officials, which provide umpires for youth, travel, high school and college games. Each year, from March through early November, Porter’s organizations provide the umpires for thousands of games and are integral to the daily operation and annual growth of the game in Northern Virginia.
3. Art Silber - He spent close to $500,000 in 1990 to purchase the Single-A minor league team now known as the Potomac Nationals, and has overseen the club as its net worth has grown to more than $15 million. After several failed attempts to identify locations to build a replacement for 34-year-old Pfitzner Stadium, Silber and his ownership group finally landed their new ballpark deal with the City of Fredericksburg. In 2020, they’ll unveil a new $35 million ballpark. In their near-three decades overseeing the club, the Silber family has remained involved in several community and youth sports initiatives in Prince William County and beyond.
4. Mark ‘Pudge’ Gjormand - In addition to building one of the area’s top high school baseball programs at Madison, Gjormand serves as the director of the MVP Baseball School in Herndon, the Greater Vienna Sports Camps and the MVP International program that sends teams abroad each summer. He has established one of the area’s top middle school travel programs in the MVP Terps, helped the Reston Little League establish its Reston Warriors youth travel program, and is a constant presence with and advocate of the Vienna Little League. His coaching tree also continues to grow, with several former players and assistants now coaching at area high schools.
5. Mike Colangelo and Shawn Camp - The two former Major Leaguers are synonymous as the owners of the Marucci Stars, the area’s largest travel program, as well as what has become the biggest academy in Northern Virginia, the Complete Game Sports & Fitness facility in Manassas. Colangelo Baseball and the Shawn Camp Pitching Academy are major components of the facility, as are the Athlete’s Addiction training academy run by Colangelo’s wife, Robin, and the Catchers U academy operated by Jack Ferrick. They both coach at the high school level - Colangelo as the head coach at Colgan and Camp as the pitching coach at Battlefield - and also coach at several levels within the Stars program.
Others Considered: Pat Herrity, the Springfield District Supervisor with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, has been a major advocate of youth baseball and the establishment and upgrade of facilities for a number of years. … John Lombardozzi founded the NVTBL in 1999 and remains the president of what has grown to become the largest travel league in the country. HIs wife, Lisa, also remains an integral part of the NVTBL operations … Sam Plank, who is also a state champion coach at the high school level, has built Diamond Elite into the premier travel program and training academy in Loudoun County. … Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, the daughter of Washington Nationals founding owner Ted Lerner and the sister of their current managing principal owner, Mark Lerner, has overseen the development of two sparkling new youth facilities as the chair of the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. The foundation has funded the Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez Field at Mason District Park in Falls Church and the Bryce Harper All-Star Complex at Fred Crabtree Park in Herndon. … Bill Brown has been the head coach at Northern Virginia’s lone Division I college program since 1982, and a number of his former players and coaches currently coach or serve as administrators at the youth, high school, college and professional levels. … Mike Murray has run the area’s longest-running baseball academy, his Virginia Baseball Club was founded in 1992, and he remains very active in the Arlington youth leagues. … As the manager of the Fairfax County Athletics Services Division, Karen Avvisato oversees applications for the county’s community use for fields and gyms and works with the county’s parks and recreation department and local politicians on facility development and upgrades. … Billy Emerson has served as the athletics director while Paul VI Catholic High School has morphed into Northern Virginia’s premier private school sports program, and the Panthers’ baseball coach also serves on the state committee for the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association. … Carson Carroll established the Marucci Stars in 2008, and he remains involved as a coach as the travel program has grown to become the biggest in Northern Virginia. … Jim Grenier operates Leesburg Post 34’s program and serves as the Virginia state director for the American Legion. … Mike Covington is one of the area’s most-accomplished high school coaches and has also overseen the North team at the Commonwealth Games for the past 27 years. … He’s been retired as a high school coach for almost two decades, but Ron Tugwell continues to be a mentor for numerous area coaches and has an expansive coaching tree at all levels of the game. … The chairman of Vienna Little League, Bill Cervenak has for over three decades been a key figure in the area’s largest youth league, which feeds some of the area’s best high school programs in Madison, Oakton, Marshall and Flint Hill. … The longtime commissioner of the D.C. Men’s Senior Baseball League (MSBL), Jerry Klemm has been a constant presence in area men’s league baseball.
Note: Today’s story is part our series ranking the area’s best coaches, programs, fields and contributors.
Photo of Rob Hahne courtesy of Kyle’s Kamp