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Raising Funds and Hopes

Churchill Sports Night raises over $100,000 for the school’s athletic teams and facilities.

Topper Shutt had a microphone in his hand, and he knew how to use it.

“With this wireless mic, I can just walk right up to your table and shame you into a bid,” said Shutt.

Shutt, the WUSA channel 9 meteorologist and Churchill parent, moonlighted as an auctioneer at Churchill High School's third annual Sports Night on Friday. The event was held at the Bethesda Country Club and blended philanthropy and fun for alumni and Churchill parents and boosters. The event included a silent auction, a live auction, a dinner, and a video montage in honor of the five-time defending state champion Churchill golf team.

The event raises money each year for the Churchill athletic department, said Carolyn Mattingly of the Churchill Boosters Club, which organizes the event. In years past, the funds raised have replaced the stadium field and two practice fields at Churchill with Bermuda grass, which Mattingly said is more durable and more expensive than the grasses that the county installs on athletic fields. The main goal of this year’s event was to raise enough money to resurface the school’s basketball court.

“We want to make it a safer surface,” said Mattingly. “The existing surface … is not a quality product.”

Mattingly said that the laminate on the gym floor now is water-soluble and that perspiration can cause athletes to slip and hurt themselves. With the funds raised on Friday night, Mattingly said that the school will apply a higher quality polyurethane to the floor that is less likely to make students fall. The product is similar to that used at the University of Maryland, Mattingly said.

The funds will also be used to build a walkway from the school’s parking lot to the practice fields and to purchase new equipment for the weight room, said Mattingly. The Churchill Boosters had hoped to raise more than $90,000, and Mattingly said that Friday’s event eclipsed that goal by bringing in a little over $100,000.

“AT THE END of the day, this event is about our students and our student-athletes,” said Doug Brown, of the Churchill Boosters Club. “We want to ensure that [the students] have a memorable experience that they will look back on and remember with a smile and with pride.”

The Churchill coed golf team earned special attention during the night’s festivities. The team recently captured an unprecedented fifth straight state championship and after dinner, the crowd of approximately two hundred people was treated to a video montage of the team’s highlights. The 20-minute feature included clips from golf-themed movies such as “Caddyshack,” “Tin Cup,” and “Happy Gilmore,” and interviews with the teams players and head coach Arnold Tarzy.

“I always felt that my job was simply to keep the kids focused,” said Tarzy once the montage concluded. “The kids provide the energy and the passion.” Tarzy became head coach of the team in 2003 after the team won its first championship under Mike Dichov and has won in each of the ensuing years.

“I just kind of kept things rolling,” said Tarzy. “It’s been an extreme pleasure to coach these young men and women.”

The video tribute to the golf team was followed by a similar video tribute to all of the Churchill sports teams before Shutt took over and the auction began.

“How good is the Churchill golf team?” joked Shutt. “I could play on it and they’d still win.”

The auction included box tickets to a Washington Wizards game, lasik eye surgery, and a reserved parking spot for a Churchill student for one year.

Shutt, a Churchill parent, did his best to encourage boosters to bid on items. While hawking a luxury suite at the Verizon Center for an upcoming ice skating show Shutt approached a table.

“Ma’am, did you just move your flowers [centerpiece] or was that a bid?”