Frank J. DeFrancis Dash, Jim McKay Maryland Million reviving Racing in Maryland

The Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash, a yearly event at Laurel Park racetrack, ran on November 14th in Prince George’s County. Hailed as one of the most elite sprints in the country, the DeFrancis Dash features top thoroughbred horses age three and older competing over a distance of six furlongs. Saturday marked the 24th running of the Memorial Dash.

DeFrancis Dash Pic 1The race was named after the late Frank J. DeFrancis, who had taken over as Chief Executive Officer of Laurel Park racetrack in 1984. As CEO of the racetrack, he was determined to change the magnitude and impact of thoroughbred racing in Maryland. The year following his death in 1989, the first inaugural DeFrancis Dash was created in 1990 and held at the Pimlico Race Course. The following year the “Dash” was moved to Laurel Park, and every year since then, has been a huge success.  Continue reading

March Madness in Prince George’s County

It is that time of year again: March Madness spreads south from Baltimore and the Men’s CAA Basketball Tournament to bring the CAA Women’s Championship Tournament back to Prince George’s County.  “This March marks the fifth year the CAA will call The Show Place Arena home to the Championship and throughout the years it has proven to be a great venue and event for women’s basketball,” said Samantha Barany, CAA Assistant Commissioner for Championships.  At the Show Place Arena, the CAA has crowned Champions which have gone on to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament and hosted teams who have won the WNIT tournament.  Show Place Arena has also provided a championship site for athletes who have later been drafted and played in the WNBA.  This year’s tournament, which is set to take place from the 12th through the 15th, promises to be filled with remarkable sights, memorable moments and fun times guaranteed. Continue reading

Wild and Wondrous – The World Cup Watch

In the end, it was Germany hoisting the trophy and ESPN crowing about viewership. But here in Maryland, where soccer enjoys a passionate following (see: Gold Cup, 2013) there were plenty of other big winners. For those who kept spirits high and beverages flowing while the games kept patrons riveted, the 2014 FIFA World Cup was a five week fiesta.

Much of the focus in Baltimore and National Harbor (considered part of the DC demographic) was on the large gatherings in front of jumbo screens during the US matches. You found these along the Potomac at National West Shore Park World CupHarbor, on Westside Park in the Baltimore Inner Harbor, and at Power Plant Live!, the entertainment district just north of the Inner Harbor.

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“Road to Brazil” series ends at FedEx Field

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World Cup Champions, Spain, will take on El Salvador followed by D.C. United against the Columbus Crew

Defending World Cup Champions, Spain, will take on El Salvador in an International Friendly at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. The game scheduled for June 7th will feature Spain vs. El Salvador at 4 p.m. and then will conclude with D.C. United taking on the Columbus Crew.

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DMV Elite’s New Memorial Day Tournament

DMV Elite has recently announced a new Memorial Day Basketball tournament, the Memorial Amateurs Championship Tournament also known as The MAC. This tournament is designed to attract teams from across the country to compete for national recognition, exposure and bragging rights.

With this being the first year for The MAC, Director Chris Lawson is looking for it to become a big success, “The MAC is building to become the future largest youth amateur event on the East Coast.” With multiple teams coming from the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) area and other teams from  Delaware, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania expected to compete for the trophy, DMV Elite is looking to make this a national tournament with top caliber AAU teams.

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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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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