Dhani Jones wanted an award all his own. A linebacker on the National Football League’s Philadelphia Eagles, Jones has played in two Super Bowls and on the University of Michigan’s NCAA champion football team. He is also a 1996 graduate of Winston Churchill High School, and one of 11 alumni inducted to Churchill’s Athletic Hall of Fame last Friday.
“I wasn’t ever an All-American or a first-round draft pick,” said Jones, who described how he lost a state championship on Churchill’s football team. “On the Giants, we lost the Super Bowl, and most recently I lost a Super Bowl with the Eagles as well. … Even my college trophy, I had to share with Nebraska.”
Jones said that in the Churchill Hall of Fame induction, he finally had an award that was all his. “This means more to me than you guys will probably know,” Jones said.
Churchill’s Hall of Fame induction was its first in 10 years. The 11 new inductees were honored at a gala event at Bethesda Country Club on Friday, March 4. Meteorologist Topper Shutt was emcee of the induction ceremony along with special guest Jimmy Kemp, a Churchill ‘87 graduate. Kemp was quarterback on Churchill’s football team, and he played professionally in the Canadian Football League until 2001. He spoke about the life lessons he learned at Churchill. “[You learn] as you’re growing up that you are not an island… at the same time learning that I wasn’t good enough to do it on my own,” Kemp said.
The gala was a team effort initiated by Churchill parent Rich LaFleur to restore Churchill’s athletic fields, especially the stadium field that is shared by the football, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls lacrosse and track and field teams. “We had poms dancing in the mud, and soccer games moving to Whitman,” said LaFleur. “Something had to be done.”
Churchill Booster Club co-presidents Sheri Cissel and Carolyn Mattingly hoped to raise $125,000 from the Hall of Fame Gala — by the end of Friday night, they had raised more that $170,000. A silent auction featured jerseys autographed by Dhani Jones and D.C. United soccer player Freddy Adu. Among items for bid in a live auction were a two-hour soccer lesson from Adu, which went for $1,500, and a designated parking lot spot at Churchill, five of which went for $2,800.
Keith Unikel (‘95)
Varsity Sports Played: Golf
Feats: Unikel was a two-time state golf champion, and was an All-American in at Churchill.
Life after Churchill: At the University of Maryland, Unikel was a two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) golfer. In 1998, he became the youngest-ever winner of the Maryland Open.
Stephanie Chase (‘96)
Varsity Sports Played: Tennis, swimming and track
Feats: Chase compiled a 51-1 record as a tennis singles player; led Churchill to four straight county titles.
Life after Churchill: Chase graduated from U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where she played varsity tennis for two years. She is now a captain in the U.S. Army’s 14th Engineering Battalion, which helped restore water, electricity and sewer lines to Baghdad Airport less than a week after Baghdad’s fall in 2003.
Did You Know: She’s now Stephanie Chase Beaulieu. Last year, Chase married John Beaulieu, who also serves in the U.S. Army.
She said: “[My friends] were absolutely shocked,” Chase Beaulieu recalled about her friends’ reaction to her attending West Point. “They thought it was just a phase.”
Dhani Jones (‘96)
Varsity sports played: Football, wrestling and track
Feats: Earned nine varsity letters, and played on Churchill’s state runner-up team of 1995.
Life after Churchill: Three-time All-Big Ten linebacker on University of Michigan’s football team, and received Michigan’s Scholar Athlete Award. Jones started as linebacker for the NFC champion New York Giants in 2000-01, and the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles in 2004-05.
Did You Know: Jones has a personal Web site at www.dhani55.com
Marisa Padula (‘97)
Varsity Sports Played: Soccer
Feats: Padula scored 38 goals in three years at Churchill, and the Bulldogs went 24-4-2 in her junior and senior years.
Life after Churchill: Played midfielder on the women’s soccer team at University of Arizona, where she led the Wildcats in goals and assists for two years.
Did You Know: Padula tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) three times during her years at Arizona, and became a coach as a graduate assistant in her final year there.
Alex Kim (‘97)
Varsity Sports Played: Tennis
Feats: Kim was named a high school All-American and was ranked No. 5 nationally in 1995.
Life after Churchill: On Stanford University’s tennis team, Kim won the NCAA 2000 singles championship. He competed for three years on the professional tennis circuit, and played in three Grand Slam tournaments.
He said: “I had the opportunity to represent the U.S. and travel around the world.”
Catherine “Cay” Miller (‘99)
Varsity Sports Played: Field hockey, softball, track and basketball
Feats: Miller was Churchill’s captain and center-back on Churchill’s state semifinalist field hockey teams that allowed 24 goals over 31 games in her junior and senior seasons.
Life after Churchill: At Haverford college, Miller was captain of the field hockey team and was a two-time All-Centennial Conference selection.
She said: “The teams that I played with at Churchill are the best I ever played with.”
Adam Hazes (‘99)
Varsity Sports Played: Diving
Feats: Hazes won two state one-meter diving championships.
Life after Churchill: Hazes was captain of the diving team at Indiana University, where he was a two-time Academic Big 10 team member. He was also on the National Diving Team.
Nino Marcantonio (‘99)
Varsity Sports Played: Soccer
Feats: Marcantonio scored 26 goals with 13 assists on Churchill’s state finalist team in 1998.
Life After Churchill: Marcantonio first attended American University, where he was named the Colonial Athletic Association rookie of the year, and later transferred to University of Maryland, where he led the Terps in assists in his junior and senior seasons, and played in the men’s soccer Final Four. He now plays for the Milwaukee Wave of the American Indoor Soccer Association.
Marcantonio joked about his salary as a professional indoor soccer player. “I play for the Milwaukee Wave, and I don’t play for the Eagles, but you know what? I don’t care. … Sometimes it’s not about winning the championship; it’s about the tightness and team passion.”
Lindsay Haywood (‘00)
Varsity Sports Played: Soccer
Feats: Haywood compiled a 44-8-2 record as the goalie of Churchill’s girls soccer team, with 26 shutouts and a 0.80 goals-against average in two years as a starter.
Life after Churchill: As a freshman and sophomore at the University of Arkansas, Haywood led the Razorbacks in minutes played, and she was a three-time member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Academic Honor Roll.
Varsity Sports Coached: Boys soccer (22 years) and girls soccer (19 years)
Feats: Coached the Bulldogs to eight state titles – five boys, and three girls.
Life after Coaching Churchill: Coached the men’s soccer team at Montgomery College-Rockville, and was named the Junior College Adidas Coach of the Year in 2000.
Varsity Sports Coached: Cross country and track (28 years)
Feats: Coached the Bulldogs to six state championships and 21 regional or county championship.
Life after Coaching Churchill: White continues to teach U.S. History at Churchill.
Did You Know: White coached Churchill’s first full (five-member) girls cross country team in 1976.
He said: “You never begin [coaching or teaching] expecting something like this to happen.”