First-year T.C. Williams volleyball coach Michael Burch talked about turning around the program when he looked up at the championship banners hanging on the wall of the school’s gymnasium.
"Where’s ours?" Burch asked. "Ours is one of the blank ones over there. They’ve never even won a district" title.
After 14 years of coaching volleyball at the collegiate level, Burch has his work cut out for him at TC. But so far, he has his players believing.
"Coach Burch has totally changed the program," sophomore middle blocker Kate Whitmire said. "There’s a lot more energy, I feel. Girls are always trying to get to the ball. Coach Burch doesn’t put up with any attitudes or anything. He’s very hard, but it’s changed the program."
Burch’s most recent college job was in 2006, when he was the head coach at Division I Radford University. He’s also coached at the club level, including spending the last two years as the technical director of Virginia Elite Volleyball Club.
Burch said he’s been trying to figure out how to implement complex systems in the most effective fashion for the high school level. He also has the varsity, JV and freshman teams practice together.
In terms of expectations, Burch said he thinks the Titans can finish in the top three of the Patriot District. Leading the way is the 6-foot-1 Whitmire, who started last season as a freshman. Whitmire played club ball under Burch the last two seasons.
"Skill-wise, she’s progressing well," Burch said. "I think the only thing [that needs to improve] at this point in her development is the mental aspect. You talk about a Michael Jordan — somebody who can really make her teammates better and knows when it’s time for her to take over the game and not worry about playing selfishly."
Whitmire acknowledged she has room for improvement.
"I feel like I got my name out there" last year, she said. "But I still need to prove myself. I’m still [looked at as Division I football prospect Jay Whitmire’s] little sister."
Burch said he also expects big things from senior outside hitter Amberle Farthing and junior outside hitter Grand Roberson.
Senior Rebecca Stone is the Titans’ setter and is backed-up by senior Meron Hailu and freshman Kelly Dervarics. Sophomore Sydney Trough, and juniors Sophie Siegal and Zoe Newhouse are the team’s other outside hitters and senior Abby Wilson and junior Jennifer Zhu are the Titans’ liberos.
T.C. Williams opened the season with a 3-0 loss to Chantilly on Aug. 30. The Titans host Falls Church at 7:15 p.m. on Sept. 1.
— Jon Roetman
<b>TC Field Hockey Wins 3 of 4</b>
The T.C. Williams field hockey team opened the 2010 season by winning three of four games during a tournament at Westfield Aug. 27-28.
T.C. Williams hosts Westfield at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 3.
The Bishop Ireton football team opens its season at 2 p.m. on Sept. 4 at Bishop O’Connell. The St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes football team travels to face Potomac in a scrimmage at 6 p.m. on Sept. 2 and Episcopal travels to face Norfolk Academy in a scrimmage at 4 p.m. on Sept. 2.
<b>Lil’ Titans Youth Flag Football</b>
The Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities’ Sports Section is now accepting registrations for the Lil' Titans Youth flag football program. This developmental program is for participants ages 5 - 6. League age is determined by the age of the participant as of Oct. 1, 2010. Teams are formed by recreation districts. Registration fee is $50. All participants must be resident of the City of Alexandria. Games will held on Saturday afternoons in September and October. The league is limited to a maximum of 100 registrations. For more information, call the sports office at 703-746-5402 or go on the recreation department's Web site at www.alexandriava.gov/recreation.
<b>Wahoos Season Comes to a Close</b>
Much like the Washington Redskins, the 2010 season for the Chinquapin Wahoos has been one of changes, reorganization and rebuilding. The team’s final record for the season, 1-4, however, doesn’t accurately convey all of the positive accomplishments made this summer.
"The overall improvement in the swimmers was incredible, not just by all of the new the team and personal records, but so many swimmers improved so much this summer," new head coach Dennis Burstein said.
At least a dozen team records were broken this summer and many swimmers performed personal bests. Nine Wahoos represented the city at the Colonial Swim Team All-Star Event in early August. Not too long ago, the All-stars were a long shot for a team that was down to just 30 members. Now swelling at the ranks of 120 swimmers, the Wahoos plan to break more records next summer.
While the ultimate goal is to become more competitive, Coach Burstein and his staff, including Katherine McAddo, Laura Goff, Yoana Mavrov and Paul Salmon, are all quick to point out that the team goal is also to develop self-confident, goal-oriented team members, who will become productive adults with a lifelong love for the sport of swimming.
"While ‘winning’ can be important, learning to improve and striving to succeed are of greater importance as part of a positive competitive experience," Burstein said. "We encourage everyone to be a part of a supportive team atmosphere where goals are set toward self-improvement and where helping our teammates become part of the nature of being a Wahoo."
The Wahoos are the only public swim team in the City of Alexandria. Youths of all ages and abilities from different schools all over the city come together for fun and friendship. Together, the Alexandria Recreation Department of Sports, partnered with the Chinquapin Park Recreation Center Aquatics Section and the Wahoo parent boosters manage the team.
— Laura Fries
<b>Girls Volleyball Program</b>
The Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities’ Sports Section is now accepting registrations for the girls volleyball league for ages 9 - 14. League age is determined by the age of the participant as of Dec. 31, 2010.
The league is designed to develop the basic fundamentals and further the development of the skilled players. Teams will be formed based on the number of participants registered and by experience.
Practice begins in late September with practices on Sunday afternoons and games on Thursday and Friday nights. The registration deadline is Sept. 15, 2010, and is limited to a maximum of 120 participants. The fee is $30 and participants must be a resident of the City of Alexandria.
For more information, call the sports office at 703-746-5402 or visit alexandriava.gov/recreation. Space is limited.
<b>Youth Coaches Needed</b>
The Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities is currently seeking volunteers to coach flag football, basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball. Criminal history background checks are required. Interested persons should call the youth sports office at 703-746-5402 or e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.