Grand Master Brown’s lifetime work culminates with U.S. Capitol Classics

John Lennon once said that the ‘60s gave us a glimpse of the possibilities that we all had. For Grand Master Dennis Brown, one of the possibilities that he did not foresee was the tremendous growth that martial arts had in America.

In the basement of a little gym at Benjamin Banneker Middle School, Brown and a small group of guys began practicing martial arts in 1965. Brown recollected at the time when martial arts were virtually non-existent in the country.

After earning his black belt, Brown began competing in the national circuit where he became a top-three ranked fighter in the country. When China began opening up and sending athletes to compete in America in the 70s, he became one of first five Americans (also the first African-American) in 1982 to be sent over to Mainland China to train and study the sport at the Shaolin Temple.

As the official consultant of Wu-Shu for the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, (named by the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C.) it was after eight years of competing when he began to realize that some of the toughest competition we had was in the Maryland area.

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Youth Cricket Championship marks milestone in sport’s growth

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The championship match held at South Germantown Recreational Park

Over three years ago, cricket programs for youths in Maryland were virtually nonexistent. On a bright and clear Sunday where the oval-shaped cricket ground met the horizon of Sugarloaf Mountain, the first state youth cricket championship in the country was held at South Germantown Recreational Park

For the president of the United States Youth Cricket Association, Jamie Harrison, the championship match marked another milestone for the sport. Since early 2010 when he began the USYCA and the Maryland Youth Cricket Association, the Glen Burnie resident has spearheaded the movement to cultivate and foster the non-traditional sport for children in Maryland and across the country.

“Maryland has a very large population with a passion for cricket. What’s lacking is infrastructure to allow the children of that demographic to properly learn the game, and also to introduce the game to other children outside that demographic,” said Harrison, USYCA president.

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Ethiopians gather in Maryland for weeklong soccer celebration

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Ethiopians traveled from around the country

If you have attended a football or basketball game at the University of Maryland, then you’re probably familiar with Testudo dancing down the sidelines and Terrapins fans wearing red or gold chanting their victory song. While that sight of the local Maryland community is normal during the fall and winter months, I saw tens of thousands of Ethiopians gather in College Park last week for the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America’s (ESFNA) MARYLAND 2013: 30th Annual Soccer Tournament and Cultural Festival.

Throughout the entire week, I met Ethiopians from around the country who made the journey to College Park for the annual event, including tourists from California. I was even more surprised to find Ethiopians traveling south of the border from Ontario, Canada.

“We drove 18 hours from Minnesota to come here. We went to the one in Dallas last year and it was enjoyable. We’re really excited for [Ethiopian Day] later,” said Dawit Melaku, 29 year old Ethiopian from Minnesota.

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Hundreds of Ethiopian vendors  on-site at Byrd Stadium

ESFNA has brought this event to Maryland in years past, and other highly populated Ethiopian metropolitan areas around the country, including Los Angeles and Atlanta. As a fellow resident of the highest Ethiopian populated state, I was able to see why the ESFNA decided to return to Maryland to celebrate the 30th anniversary.

Throughout the week, spectators took the stands in the lower bowl and watched Ethiopian soccer clubs compete against each other on the FieldTurf Surface, which was recently installed last year at Byrd Stadium.

Aside from the the fast-paced action on the field, the entire main concourse was packed with hundreds of vendors for Ethiopians to drive business. Ranging from non-profit organizations booths, to clothing concessions, to food stands, the unique Ethiopian culture, cuisine, and environment was certainly live.

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A Proclamation from Prince George’s County Executive, Rushern L. Baker, III

As the workdays ended and turned into the late afternoons and early evenings, the festival’s attendance gradually increased with families and friends arriving. The concourse suddenly became very busy and felt as if I was walking through a densely, crowded Little Ethiopia. Even for non-Ethiopians, it was a positive, welcoming environment to be around.
In honor of Ethiopian Day, Montgomery County Executive, Isiah Leggett, and Prince George’s County Executive, Rushern L. Baker III, and Deputy Secretary of State, Rajan Natarajan, spoke  and praised the largest Ethiopian populated-area in the country.

“I’m delighted to serve as the co-chair of this 30th Anniversary. To be with so many friends and so many people who enjoy sports, but enjoy the culture, the religion, and all the wonderful things that Ethiopia has to offer to all of the world,” said Leggett.

It was great to see the Ethiopian population from across the country (and Canada) unite here in Maryland to celebrate their culture and heritage through sport. After researching and attending this event, I am now more interested in discovering how more nationalities in the US have cultural celebrations intertwined with sport on a nation level like the ESFNA.

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Tens of thousands of Ethiopians packed the stands on Ethiopian Day
Credit: EthioTube

DC Metro Showcase arrives in MoCo for recruitment showcase

logoAs the summer heats up, hundreds of athletes made their way to the South Germantown Recreational Park this past weekend for various outdoor sports. While the scenery provided a great setting to play outside, it did not stop college coaches in the region and the top basketball recruits from traveling to the state-of-the-art, multi-sport indoor Discovery Sports Center, for the DC Metro Summer Showcase.

The Discovery Sports Center (DSC) proved to be an excellent venue for this particular basketball invitational, as no player or coach had to travel from facility to facility for games throughout the weekend. Spectators entered through the double doors of DSC and were immediately greeted with wide-sweeping view of games being played on all 8 basketball courts. It was almost hard to imagine how different the facility will look come winter with two synthetic turf fields set-up on the 46,000 square foot arena floor for indoor field sports- I will have to come back to see that transition for myself!

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Region’s best junior divers showcased in MoCo

Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to witness my first dive meet at the Kennedy Shriver Aquatics Center (KSAC) for the USA Diving Summer Junior Region 3 Championships.

usadivingAlthough my drive to the KSAC was short, divers from the region’s top dive clubs made journeys to North Bethesda, MD from states as far as North Carolina, Massachusetts, Florida, and Colorado.

Throughout the weekend, parents, siblings and friends filled the parking lots to come out to watch and support their loved ones. With 127 divers from age group 11 & Under to age group 16 to 18 compete in diving events from 1 meter, 3 meter and platform towers.

During each event, participants performed a standing dive for each round and rotated through for five rounds. Promptly after every dive, the five-person judge panel used scorecards to score the dive out of 10 points. The PA announcer would read the results into the microphone for the audience, as the diver hopped back on deck with the following diver set to perform the next dive only seconds later.

While watching the events, the lower age groups were understandingly more limited to performing dynamic dives, the 16-18 age group exhibited an impressive set of dives from the 10 meter diving platform, including forward armstands, reverse somersaults, and inward somersaults.

After 2266 dives later, The MDC came out on top of the competition and scored an astounding 407 points overall among the boys and girls divisions. The swimmers advance on to the Junior Zone Championships for a chance to compete in August at the USA Diving Junior National Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Diving is a part of the culture in the Washington Metropolitan area, unlike other areas of the country, according to third-year MDC Program Director Doug Beavers.

Last summer, the 2012 U.S. Olympic Dive Team selected Montgomery County Recreation to prepare for the London 2012 Summer Olympics. With its reputation of its aquatics program and optimal diving amenities available to the athletes, it was the ideal training site.

Along with the KSAC, the county offers a robust selection of diving facilities for its elite diving club, including the Germantown Indoor Swim Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Swim Center, and Olney Swim Center.

Recently, the MDC Dryland Training Center was established in Wall Park, adjacent to the KSAC, as part of the U.S. Olympic Dive Team’s training camp.

The training center is only one of a few dozen indoor dryland facilities in the country, with amenities including two 1-meter dry diving boards with 12’ x 12’ x 32” landing pit, two 6’ x 12’ trampolines with competition beds, 25’ x 25’ spring floor for multi-purpose activities, and an overhead spotting harness over trampoline and dryboard.

“From a local diving point of view, this is the next level of training,” Beavers stated in a Gazette article last August. “It is the way that the world trains and it brings a whole other dimension of training to our [nationally recognized] program.”