Retreads prove you’re never too old to love to play ball

Back in the 1990s, I played on an older-than-30 baseball league in Charlottesville. I’d played in high school and for a brief time in college, and I was amazed by how much I still loved the game and wanted to compete.

I was a pitcher — a hard-throwing right-hander with a decent curve — but I had always struggled with control. When I was on, usually in the warmer months, I could get into a groove and pitch well. But when it was cold, or when my frustration would get the better of me, I tended to lose focus. But I tried to overcome that when I played for the Tigers — trying to prove something to myself, I guess — and I worked hard at it. So hard, in fact, that I broke my arm in half.

Everyone gets older. But not everyone gets old. That was the take-away last week when I spent some time with the Charlottesville Retreads, a senior softball team that has been practicing and playing at Darden Towe Park since 2003.

At 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from March until mid-October, when they practice and scrimmage, you’ll find ministers, doctors, professors, tradespersons, educators, businesspeople and ex-athletes, both male and female, who have said goodbye to the players they might have been in their youth, but not to a game they love.

“I’ve played all my life,” said Larry Stremikis, 74, one of the original founders and current manager of the Retreads. “Even though you are getting up in years, you have to stay active, and you want to have fun, too. And I love the camaraderie it enhances.” Read More

Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan..not the brightest bunch

From the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan home page. One danger involved in attending their planned rally here this Saturday, July 8, that hasn’t been discussed: the risk to your mental health being around this much stupid.

“…July 8th in Virginia we will make a stand for our Southern History. They are trying to erase whites and our great culture right out of the history books. The Civil War was not fought over Slavery but over high taxes put on the South by the North. The whites did not make the blacks slaves; their own people captured them and sold them to Jewish merchants and they sold them. Blacks should be thankful because those who did not get sold were ate. People look into this for yourself read a book. If you want to stand with us for our great Confederate dead email us. It is time whites in America unite blacks have the Black Panthers the terrorist group Black Lives Matters. The Mexicans have La Raza and the Jews have the ADL and the S.P.L.C. Whites you have the Loyal White Knights fighting for equal rights for whites. Stand with us July 8th make your stand in Dixie land. Call 336-432-0386…”

A Journalist Is Exposing How the FBI Targets Animal Activists as ‘Terrorists’

As a young reporter for the Chicago Tribune in the months following 9/11, Will Potter was already growing weary of reporting on cops, crime, and shootings in the city. On a whim during some time off, he decided to help a group of activists hand out leaflets opposing animal testing.

“It wasn’t what journalists usually do,” says Potter, now 37. “But I was feeling like I wasn’t making a difference in the world as a reporter.”

Shortly after that, two FBI agents showed up at his door and told him he could be put on a terrorism watch list if he didn’t help them gather information about the animal activists he had helped. The agents knew that both he and his then girlfriend had applied to graduate school and warned them that the student aid they had applied for could be pulled if they didn’t cooperate. “ ‘Everything changed after 9/11,’ ” he recalls them saying.

“I couldn’t believe they were using that rhetoric of terrorism against someone handing out leaflets,” says Potter. “That was really shocking to me.” READ MORE

Girls Are Now Throwing Punches in Pakistan’s First All-Female Boxing Club

The country ranked as the least gender equitable in the Asia and Pacific region by the World Economic Forum might seem an unlikely place to start a boxing club for young girls. But that’s exactly what’s happening in Lyari, a poor neighborhood in Karachi, Pakistan, with a reputation for gang violence and producing major sports stars. Thirteen girls have formed the country’s first all-female boxing club, proof that while women’s rights in Pakistan may still have a long way to go, some progress is beginning to take shape. READ MORE..

Knock, knock: men involved in Mall “beating” tell their side of the story


Kiara Redd-Martin, Richard Spears, Kishara Joy Griffin, and Malcolm Stevenson.

The DTM – In an exclusive interview with the two men arrested and charged with assault in connection with a December 20 altercation on the Downtown Mall, which was initially portrayed as a “knock out” style attack for mere sport and entertainment by the alleged victims in the press and on Facebook, Malcolm Stevenson and Richard Spears offered their account of what happened that night. The interview was facilitated by Kiara Redd-Martin and Kishara Joy Griffin, two young African-American activists (and friends of the men) who say they feel “disappointed and angry” about the way the story was initially portrayed in the press, and encouraged their friends to come forward.

“We believe it was negligent journalism,” says Redd-Martin, a 24-year old graduate of Old Dominion University who is now pursuing a graduate degree in administrative justice, talking about the first story about the incident that ran in Cville Weekly, ” which did not take into account the character of these two men, or attempt to get their side of the story.” READ MORE

Hotel city: When will Charlottesville get ‘roomier’?

news-norris-mall-2-1On a crisp, bright day in March 2008, a suave-looking guy with long hair and a tailored light-grey suit (no tie) told us at a ground-breaking ceremony that a stylish, luxury “boutique” hotel, complete with a roof-top bar and stunning views of of the southeast mountains, would tower over Central Place on the Downtown Mall. What we got, of course, was an ugly tower of grey concrete rising out of the demolished shell of a bank building, an eyesore on our cityscape since 2009 that has the permanence of a metamorphic rock formation.

In June 2012, another suave-looking guy with short hair and a tailored blue suit (no tie) again told us that the abandoned tower would indeed become a luxury hotel, as soon as he finished a similar hotel in Charleston, South Carolina. Around the same time we were also told by a West Virginia developer that a seven-story Marriott extended-stay Residence Inn would be rising up at the corner of West Main Street and Ridge/McIntire in the spaces occupied by Random Row Books and City Clay.

The new Marriott appears to be on track, as City Clay, Random Row Books, and the other businesses on the property have left the premises, but you’ll have to excuse us if we remain a bit skeptical.

However, according to the state tourism board, there is a shortage of hotel rooms in Charlottesville, while demand for them has been rising. In the coming years, they say, based on the many accolades and “best places” designations bestowed upon us, people – lots of them – will be coming. Maybe these hotel developers know something we don’t.


Just say know: Tim Wilson wants to change the world– one story at a time

UVA psych professor Timothy Wilson’s book Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change begins with a horror story. A police officer in Florida is the first to arrive at a house engulfed in flames. There are screams for help coming from the structure, and through a window the officer sees a trapped man. The officer tries to break down the heavily bolted front door, but when it finally gives way, it’s too late.

“He was curled up like a baby in in his mother’s womb,” says the officer. “That’s what someone burned to death looks like.”

The next day, when the officer reads the local newspaper, he realizes the victim was a friend. The officer couldn’t sleep or eat, and so his superiors scheduled a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, which is basically a therapy session with professional counselors designed to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder. Survivors of the 9/11 attacks and the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings underwent similar interventions.

Sounds like the compassionate, common sense things to do, right? READ MORE

Leadership fitness: Did Dragas engage in plus-sized bullying?

Given the lack of specific, convincing reasons that Rector Helen Dragas has given for forcing the resignation of UVA President Teresa Sullivan, what really motivated the decision has become a mystery. What if a visceral, even unconscious, prejudice against Sullivan’s physical appearance, manner, or gender contributed to the undignified way in which her firing was handled?

“The problem here,” says UVA Faculty Senate chair George Cohen, “is I haven’t seen any evidence that President Sullivan wasn’t capable of addressing the University’s challenges or problems.”

UVA’s Larry Sabato has called the process leading up to the decision “absolutely outrageous.”

“There wasn’t a scintilla of transparency in it,” he told Richmond Station NBC12 in a rare interview. “This has given us the worst two weeks of publicity since I’ve been associated with the University, and that was 42 years ago. I’m sick at heart.”

Sabato likened the ouster to a military “command and control” operation, and said that the only cure for the blunder was to reinstate President Sullivan.

For many, however, the question remains: What on earth were Dragas and company thinking? According to one source, Dragas assured UVA ‪Provost John Simon‬ that the fall-out from the firing would blow over in a “couple of days.” What might have lead to such short-sighted, foolish thinking? READ MORE

Battle of the noodle: Allied heats up recycling rhetoric against Van der Linde

For several years now, Allied Waste, which is owned by mega-waste company Republic Services, has been largely silent while Van der Linde Recycling (VDLR) steals all the local trash and recycling glory. Now the company is fighting back with a vengeance. With an onslaught of web, print, radio, and TV advertising, Allied suggests that much of the recycling collected by local haulers using VDLR is ending up in a landfill.

However, according to Peter Van der Linde, Allied’s new “separate, don’t contaminate” ad campaign is just the last gasp from a company tied to an outmoded way of handling trash– and to its own landfills. READ MORE

Bully buster? VQR spurs UVA launch of ‘respectful workplace’

"We will not tolerate retaliation against an employee who reports an incident," says UVA President Teresa Sullivan.

A year-and-a-half after the suicide of the Virginia Quarterly Review’s managing editor Kevin Morrissey launched a national debate about whether it was the scene of workplace bullying, UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan has launched the Respect@UVA program, a comprehensive workplace initiative designed to promote “kindness, dignity and respect.”

But one workplace bullying expert thinks the reforms announced February 15 don’t go far enough.

Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute, contends that bullying should be put in the context of real violence to avoid letting programs like this get “shackled by all its shortcomings.”