Vernon Davis
Photo: Courtesy of Vernon Davis

The Redskins’ Resident Artist Vernon Davis

Folks in the area have likely heard of Vernon Davis.
The DC native was a standout football and basketball player at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and then at the University of Maryland. In the 2006 NFL draft, he was taken sixth overall by the San Francisco 49ers, where he became the all-time franchise leader for tight ends in receptions, yards and touchdowns.

Davis has accumulated accolades in the form of Pro Bowl berths, All-Pro selections and even a Super Bowl victory. At his best, Davis was an overwhelming athlete standing 6-foot-3 and weighing about 250 lbs.

Despite his abundantly successful career on the gridiron, athletics weren’t his first love. When he was a child, his grandmother often found him with his head down, focusing on a drawing of his favorite cartoon or painting his blue jeans. Davis was – and still is – infatuated with the arts.

“I was painting Donald Duck and the Tasmanian Devil, and I didn’t understand why I was intrigued,” Davis says. “Two years ago, I found out that my biological grandfather was an artist, so now it makes sense why I did what I did.”

Though the eventual athletic stalwart found solace in art, the community he grew up in was less enthusiastic about the subject. This is why Davis dropped his creative habits when football and basketball moved to the forefront of his priority list in high school.

“Growing up in DC, it was more hip-hop culture, and in that culture, people are excited about athletics, rap and R&B,” Davis says. “Being a football and basketball player, I felt that it was tough to pursue what I wanted to pursue. I was geared more toward athletics.”

And for good reason – Davis was exceptional at football, playing everything from tight end to safety to even kick returner for Dunbar. He earned a scholarship to the University of Maryland, and majored in criminal justice before shifting his focus to studio art.

“When I got into college, I was in an environment where I thought that I was free,” he says. “I wasn’t worried about people criticizing me, and I didn’t have to worry about that anymore. When I looked around, there was freedom, and everyone was expressing themselves in the ways they wanted. I picked up on the synergy and went for it.”

On Saturdays, Davis wowed Maryland fans with fascinating catches and crushing blocks. But at school, he was learning how to hone the interest sparked when he was a child. Even though art and football don’t have much in common on the surface, Davis says there are parallels between practicing the two.

“Just being patient,” he says. “When it comes to art, there’s something about once you get going, it’s hard to stop. You really want to perfect it, whether it’s today or tomorrow. Part of it is you want everyone to be amazed and fascinated by the piece you created. Football is like that, because I want to perfect it before I leave the field, whether it be a block, route or skill.”

Though Davis is adamant that his focus is entirely on football during the season, even he succumbs to bouts of sporadic inspiration, causing him to bust out the paintbrush at a moment’s notice.

“When I go places and see something that resonates with me, I’ll take note of it either in my mind or I’ll actually write it down. I try to implement those moments in my art, and it could be anything because art comes in so many different forms.”

Davis studies studio art, and is more of a painter than anything else. However, lately he’s been dabbling in acting, including a script based on his artistic interest as a child in DC.

“It’s called Vernon Don’t Play, and it’s about a kid into art who gets picked on a lot,” he says.

While Davis was a little shy about his art as a kid, he’s making efforts to assure that children like him don’t have the same trepidations through the work of the Vernon Davis Foundation. The nonprofit’s mission revolves around promoting art education and appreciation among youth from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“I feel like art is important because it allows us to think outside of the box. It opens up your mind to different opportunities and you start thinking. Opening your mind and being better than yesterday is what art allows people to do.”
To learn more about Vernon Davis, his art and his foundation, visit www.vernondavis.comand www.vernondavisfoundation.org .

Photo: Courtesy of Vernon Davis

Kirk Cousins
Photos: Courtesy of the Washington Redskins

We Like That! Kirk Cousins Strikes While the Gridiron is Hot

For the first time in several years, the Washington Redskins are starting their season without drama at the quarterback position and with widespread optimism about their chances for success.

Kirk Cousins, who toiled in the shadow of quarterback Robert Griffin III during the 2012-2014 seasons, outperformed the Heisman Trophy winner during training camp last year and earned the starting job on the eve of the 2015 season opener. A portrait of preparation, persistence and poise, Cousins led the Redskins to a 9-7 record and a playoff berth last year.

This year, Cousins arrived at training camp as the team’s undisputed starter, eager to take the field for the regular season home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 12 and, hopefully, to lead his team even deeper into the post-season.

In an On Tap interview at training camp in Richmond last month, Cousins said entering the season with the team’s leadership role firmly in hand provides him with confidence critical to performing at a high level in professional football.

“It gives you the opportunity to take the reins and just communicate openly with your coaches and teammates,” Cousins said. “It gives you a great platform and foundation to help lead the team and score points.”

Cousins grew reflective when asked what he learned from Griffin’s tumultuous time with the Redskins. Griffin’s tenure saw the former Baylor University star go from being named NFL rookie of the year at the end of his first season to being benched on the eve of his fourth. Griffin now plays for the Cleveland Browns.

“What I learned is that just because you’re successful one day, doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful the next,” Cousins said. “It keeps me on my toes. I feel like I’ve always got to prove it over and over and over again. Not just year after year, but day after day. I’ve got to prove myself and earn my spot. You never really feel comfortable in this league, but I think it brings out the best in you.”

Redskins Coach Jay Gruden, who praised Cousins’ mechanics and work ethic when naming him the starting quarterback over Griffin at the beginning of last season, thinks the best is yet to come from the fifth-year pro and former Michigan State star.

“Unfortunately for him, we had all the controversies in the last two years, and since he’s been in the league, he’s been playing second fiddle,” Gruden said during an interview on ESPN 980 prior to the start of training camp. “Now it’s his team.”

“He played pretty darn good last year,” Gruden added. “We expect him to make a major jump this year. People don’t understand the importance of experience.”

Cousins said his primary objective at training camp last month was improving his protection of the football, making good decisions in pressure situations and avoiding costly interceptions. Some critics contend that the 6-foot-3, 210-pound athlete too often forces the ball into blanket coverage, taking chances that result in turnovers.

“No matter how long or how well you play the year before, the key to the game is always going to be to make good decisions with the football and manage the game well,” Cousins said. “If you can do those two things and build on experience, the rest takes care of itself. That’s when great things happen.”

While the Redskins’ running game isn’t expected to dominate games this year, Cousins said he’s thrilled with a receiving corps that boasts multiple weapons, including veteran wideout DeSean Jackson, newly acquired veteran tight end Vernon Davis and second-year Redskins tight end Jordan Reed, who outperformed expectations last year.

“Quarterbacks are only as good as the guys around them,” Cousins said. “Reed has shown why he’s an elite tight end. We just need to keep finding ways to get him the football. I’m sure teams will try to double cover him or take him away, but we’ll do the best we can.”

Cousins also spoke highly of Davis, noting his experience playing in the Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers and in many playoff games.

“[Davis] still has a lot of juice. He can run really well, catch the ball well and he’s a pro. He approaches the game with a pro’s mentality. It’s no secret as to why he’s been successful.”

Davis returned the compliment.

“I think Kirk is awesome,” Davis told On Tap. “He’s a great dude, and he’s just leading. It’s both vocal and through his actions – he exemplifies what it is to be a leader for a team. I think he’s doing a wonderful job. He’s cruising right now.”

Cousins has a reputation as an unassuming and humble player. But one Sunday last October, after engineering the biggest come-from-behind win in Redskins history against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cousins flashed some previously disguised emotional fire. Perhaps recalling his pre-season doubters, an ebullient Cousins yelled, “You like that?” in the direction of the crowd assembled near the locker room as he left the field after the game.
The emotional moment quickly became an ESPN highlight, then a meme, then a T-shirt, sales of which Cousins donated to charity. Asked about the moment, Cousins grinned sheepishly.

“The whole thing was just about win, win, win,” he explained. “The fan base enjoyed it and we were able to raise awareness for a great organization – International Justice Mission – based out of DC. [The “You like that?” meme] has been fun for the fans. The best way to keep it alive is to win football games.”

Cousins’ future with the Redskins is uncertain after this year. His contract is up at the end of the season, and whether he remains in burgundy and gold will depend on his performance on the field. Cousins noted that he and his wife Julie enjoy living in the DC area, and suggested he would like to stay put for years to come.

“It’s a really historical organization – the multiple Super Bowls and the iconic players and coaches,” Cousins said of his team. “We have a fan base that goes back nearly a hundred years. Very few teams can say that. The fact that we’re in the nation’s capital and [DC’s] a city that offers you so many resources – what a phenomenal platform. It’s hard to beat Washington when you’re talking about being the quarterback in an NFL city.”

Learn more about Kirk Cousins at www.kirkcousins.org . For tickets to this season’s games, go to www.redskins.com

football guide 2016

Football Guide 2016

Are you ready for some football? If you’re looking for the lowdown on where to hang out and watch your favorite teams, both college and pro, then look no further because we’ve got you covered. Get the 411 on all the bars, what teams they root for and hot game day specials. 

DC

The Big Board
421 H St. NE, DC
www.thebigboarddc.com
Teams: All teams are welcome
Drink specials: $15 Blue Moon Lager pitchers, and $15 Bud Light and Budweiser buckets
Food specials: Changes weekly

The Big Stick
20 M St. SE, DC
www.thebigstick.com
Teams: All teams are welcome
Drink specials:  $12 Bud Light pitchers on Saturday and Sunday
Food specials: Buffet for Sunday games
Additional information: Providing bus transportation to the first four Redskins games (tickets to the game aren’t included)

Buckeye + Bear
1730 M St. NW, DC
www.buckeyebear.com
Teams: Ohio State and Cleveland Browns
Drink specials: $4 Bud and Miller drafts, $14 Bud and Miller pitchers, $5 rail mixed drinks, $18 Pabst Blue Ribbon buckets, $6 Great Lakes drafts, and $20 Great Lakes pitchers

Buffalo Billiards
1330 19th St. NW, DC
www.buffalobilliards.com
Teams: Alabama, USC, U Conn, Saints and Jaguars
Drink specials: $4.50 16-oz. Bud Light, $5.50 Sam Adams on Saturdays and $4.50 Miller Lite and Yuengling and $16.50 pitchers on Sundays
Food specials: Two hot dogs with chips for $10

Fado
808 7th St. NW, DC
www.fadoirishpub.com
Teams: Redskins
Drink specials: Changing draft beer specials

The Green Turtle DC
601 F St. NW, DC
www.thegreeneturtle.com
Teams: All teams are welcome
Drink specials: $12 bottomless mimosas, $12 Bloody Marys, $5 beer of the month pitchers, $5 shooters, and $7.99 Miller Lite and Coors Light pitchers
Food specials: If you spend $100, you will receive a $50 wing platter

Hamilton’s Bar & Grill
233 2nd St. NW, DC
www.hamiltonsdc.com
Teams: Badgers and Packers
Drink specials: $2.50 Pabst Blue Ribbon, $2.50 Miller High Life, $3 Miller and $4.50 Yuengling

Laughing Man Tavern
1306 G St. NW, DC
www.laughingmantavern.com
Teams: Bills
Drink specials: Miller Lite and Coors Light at discounted prices
Food specials: Specials are available from its designated game day menu

Mission
1606 20th St. NW, DC
www.missiondupont.com
Teams: All teams are welcome
Drink specials: Happy hour prices begin Monday to Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. and Thursday to Sunday from 4-7 p.m.
Food specials: Quesadilla and nacho specials are included during happy hour

Penn Commons
700 6th St. NW, DC
www.penncommonsdc.com
Teams: Redskins, but all teams welcome
Drink specials: Happy hour drinks, Monday to Saturday from 4 p.m. to close, and all day Sunday; during every halftime for Redskins and Monday Night Football games from September 12 to October 23, there will be a Samuel Adams “Raise the Stein” hoist with the longest hoister from each winning a $20 gift certificate, and a chance to win trips to Las Vegas and Munich, Germany

The Prospect
1214 U St. NW, DC
www.theprospectdc.com
Teams: All teams are welcome, but the bar has a big Redskins and Patriots turnout
Drink specials: On Saturdays and Sundays, the bar features $5 mimosas, $9 Bloody Marys and $28 champagne bottles; on Mondays, $13 double patty burgers and beer combo; and on Thursdays, deals are available on local craft and domestic beer buckets
Food specials: On Mondays, $13 double patty burgers and Bud Light combo; also, Chef Josh Valencia helps to prepare some of the top-notch food items on the menu
Additional information: 13 beers on tap to choose from, and 45 hi-def smart TVs, with two that are 80-inch flat screens

Public Bar Dupont
1243 18th St. NW, DC
www.publicbar.co
Teams: Iowa Hawkeyes, Georgia Bulldogs, Redskins and Raiders
Drink specials: Drink specials during all games
Food specials: Food specials during all games

Recessions
1823 L St. NW, DC
www.recessionsdc.com
Teams: Redskins
Drink specials: Happy hour prices
Food specials: Appetizers are set to happy hour prices

RFD
810 7th St. NW, DC
www.lovethebeer.com
Teams: Michigan and Browns
Drink specials: On Sundays, $2 off drafts, $15 draft beer bucket and $4 Bud Light drafts; on Mondays and Thursdays, $4 Bud Light and $15 craft beer bucket
Food specials: Discounted tailgate food special

Sign of the Whale
1825 M St. NW, DC
www.signofthewhaledc.com
Teams: All teams are welcome
Drink specials: $3 domestic beers and $12 domestic pitchers
Food specials: $7 wings, $5 egg rolls and $5 soft pretzels

Union Pub DC
201 Massachusetts Ave. NE, DC www.unionpubdc.com
Teams: Bears and FSU
Drink specials: $3.50 for ales
Food specials: A more extensive wings menu is available

Ventor Sports Cafe
2411 18th St. NW, DC
www.ventnorsportscafe.com
Teams: UNC, Stanford and Michigan, but overall, all teams are welcome
Drink specials: Large blue cups are used during UNC games,  $5 tall boys are available, and bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys are served all day Saturday
Food specials: Specials change daily and brunch is served until 3 p.m. on Saturday

Walter’s Sports Bar
3632 Georgia Ave. NW, DC
www.waltersdc.com
Teams: All teams welcome
Drink specials: $10 pitchers of light and regular beer during both college and pro games

Willie’s Brew & Que
300 Tingey St. SE, DC
www.williesbrewnque.com
Teams: Mississippi State
Drink specials: $20 Bud Light aluminum buckets

Maryland

American Tap Room, Rockville
36 A Maryland Ave. Rockville, MD
www.atrrockville.com
Teams: All teams are welcome
Drink specials: Happy hour seven days a week from 3-7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., with 24 different beers to choose from; happy hour lasts all day on Sundays
Food specials: Food specials begin during designated football days

The Barking Dog
4723 Elm St. Bethesda, MD
www.barkingdogbar.com
Teams: Ravens and Redskins
Drink specials: $9 pitchers, $12 domestic buckets, $15 premium buckets and $5 16-oz. domestic cans
Food specials: $5 small appetizer plates

Flanagan’s Harp & Fiddle
4844 Cordell Ave. Bethesda, MD
www.flanagansharpandfiddle.com
Teams: Redskins and certain college teams are played here, but overall, all teams are welcome
Drink specials: Discounted pitchers and buckets of beer

Gordon Biersch
200 E Middle Ln. Rockville, MD
DC locations: 900 F St. NW, DC & 100 M St. SE, DC
VA location: 7861 Tysons Corner Center, McLean, VA
www.gordonbiersch.com
Teams: Washington Redskins and all teams are welcome
Drink specials: Specials vary weekly
Food specials: Specials vary weekly

Public House
199 Fleet St. National Harbor, MD
www.publichousenationalharbor.com
Teams: All teams are welcome
Drink specials: Half-priced cocktails and bottled wine, with  happy hour occuring daily
Food specials: Appetizers are half off

Saphire Cafe
7940 Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda, MD
www.facebook.com/SaphireCafeBethesda/
Teams: All teams are welcome
Drink specials: Happy hour is Monday to Friday from 4-7 p.m.; $3 domestic bottles and $4 drafts
Food specials: 50 percent off select appetizers
Additional information: Both baseball and football packages are available

Union Jacks Gaithersburg
9811 Washingtonian Blvd. Gaithersburg, MD
www.unionjacksrio.com
Teams: Redskins, Ravens and Maryland Terps
Drink specials: $12 Bud Light pitchers, $20 Flying Dog buckets and $4 Flying Dog pints
Food specials: $4 chili cups, $6 chili bowls, $1 wings, $9 barbecue sliders and $9 nachos
Additional information: Free Ravens and Redskins ticket raffles every weekend

Villain & Saint
7141 Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda, MD
www.villainandsaint.com
Teams: All teams are welcome
Drink specials: Happy hour is from 4-7 p.m.; buy one drink and get one free at equal or lesser price, and $12 beer buckets are available all day

Virginia

Arlington Rooftop
2424 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA
www.arlrooftop.com
Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Drink specials: Discounted draft beers and pitchers
Food specials: Discounted food items
Additional information: There are 37 TVs where all games viewable

Buffalo Wild Wings Crystal City
2450 Crystal Dr. Arlington, VA
www.buffalowildwings.com
Teams: All teams are welcome
Drink specials: Monday and Thursday night game day happy hour is from 2-7 p.m.

Chadwicks Old Town
203 Strand St. Alexandria, VA
www.chadwicksrestaurants.com
Teams: Redskins and JMU
Drink specials: $3 Miller Lite cans
Food specials: During Redskins games, pig skins and pulled pork stuffed potato skins are sold at discounted prices

Champps
Pentagon Row, 1201 S Joyce St. Arlington, VA
www.champps.com
Teams: All teams are welcome
Drink specials: Varies monthly; $3 drafts all day on Thursdays (small drafts under 8 percent ABV) and $3.50 for Bud Light drafts during NFL games on Sundays
Food specials: Happy hour food specials during the weekday games

Courthaus Social
2300 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA
www.courthaussocial.com
Teams: All teams are welcome
Drink specials: All day happy hour on Sunday, and certain ales and wines are discounted
Food specials: Wings special

Crystal City Sports Bar
529 23rd St. Arlington, VA
www.ccsportspub.com
Teams: Shows all games, but try to feature the following: Patriots, Giants, Saints, and Packers, Iowa, Ohio State, Arizona State, U of Washington, North Dakota State, Baylor, UNC, U of Georgia and Utah
Drink specials: During college games, pitchers of Miller Lite, Coors Light and Yuengling are discounted; during NFL games, domestic bottle buckets of Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light are discounted
Food specials: During college games, there’s a $5 appetizer menu; no specials during NFL games
Additional information: Organizing bus strips to Redskins games

Dogfish Head Alehouse Falls Church
6220 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA
www.dogfishalehouse.com
Teams:  All teams welcome
Drink specials: Buckets of beers
Food specials: Spare ribs in a bucket

Green Dragon Pub at Bilbo Baggins
208 Queen St. Alexandria, VA
www.bilbobaggins.net
Teams: We support all local teams
Food and Drink Specials: Special brunch menu on Saturday and Sunday

Grevey’s
8130 Arlington Blvd. Falls Church, VA
www.greveys.com
Teams: All teams are welcome; many fans of SEC teams come to the bar, including South Carolina, Florida, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, VA Tech and UVA
Drink specials: Discounted draft beers and drink specials, happy hour continues throughout the day on Saturdays and there are specials on wine, beer and Corona Light on Sundays

Heavy Seas Alehouse
1501 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA
www.heavyseasalehouse.com
Teams: Redskins and Oregon Ducks
Drink specials: Happy hour prices; $6 Bloody Mary salads
Food specials: All-you-can-eat wings during Redskins games only
Additional information: Hosting a college football kickoff party on September 10

Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern
697 Spring St. Herndon, VA
www.jottnew.com
Teams: Buffalo Bills
Drink specials: Changes daily
Food specials: Fish fry (haddock) every Friday; prime rib every Saturday; certain specials depend on the chef that is in for the day

Mad Fox Brewing Company
444 W Broad St. Falls Church, VA
DC location: 2218 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC
www.madfoxbrewing.com
Teams: We support all teams
Drink specials: $5 flights during Sunday games
Food specials:  Falls Church location has BOGO pizzas during Monday games, and the Glover Park location has $4 cask beers during Monday games

Mister Days
3100 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA
www.misterdays.com
Teams: All the games, including East Carolina and Texas A&M watch parties
Drink specials: $6 24-oz. cans of Coors Light and Miller Lite, $24 84-oz. beer towers of Modelo Especial and Shiner Bock, $15 60-oz. pitchers of Miller Lite and Coors Light, $16 60-oz. pitchers of Corona Light and Shiner Bock, and $4 Bloody Marys and mimosas, plus $5 glasses of rosé
Food specials: Brunch from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., chef specials weekly, and a game day menu with burgers, wings and more

Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub
713 King St. Alexandria, VA
www.murphyspub.com
Teams: Patriots, and all college teams
Drink specials: Sam Adams Lager and Sam’s Seasonal

Ramparts
1700 Fern St. Alexandria, VA
www.rampartstavern.com
Teams: All NFL teams are welcome
Drink specials: Bud Light draft, Burnett’s Vodka and Budweiser cans are all discounted
Food specials: $5 food menu, free popcorn and $1 hot dogs

Siné Irish Pub & Restaurant
1301 S. Joyce St. Arlington, VA
www.sineirishpub.com
Teams: Minnesota Vikings
Drink specials: Draft beer specials, including $3.50 for a pint
Food specials: Half plate specials

Southside 815
815 S Washington St. Alexandria, VA;
www.southside815.com
Teams: Redskins, Steelers, Patriots, Giants, Alabama, Syracuse, Ohio, Penn State and South Carolina, but overall, all teams are welcome
Drink specials: Full happy hour on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m, and reduced prices on draft beers and Bloody Marys
Food specials: Half-off on burgers; reduced prices on wings, chili dogs and pulled pork; and college games feature a reduced wings special
Additional information: There are 13 TVs sectioned off throughout the bar

Spider Kelly’s
3181 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA
www.spiderkellys.com
Teams: All teams are welcome
Drink specials: Happy hour prices
Food specials: $5 menu for food

Theismann’s
1800 Diagonal Rd. Alexandria, VA
www.theismanns.com
Teams: Redskins, but all teams welcome; college games by request
Drink specials: Varies weekly
Food specials: Varies by week, including daily chef specials

Tortoise and Hare
567 23rd St. Arlington, VA
www.tortoiseandharebar.com
Teams: Steelers, Penn State, Florida State and Georgia
Drink specials: $14 pitchers of Miller Lite and Yuengling, $3.50 of Miller Lite and Yuengling, and $3 cans Iron City Lite on Sundays
Food specials: $7 game day food menu, including pierogies, Pittsburgh-style sandwiches, loaded fries and more

Redskins Training Camp (13)

Washington Redskins Training Camp 2016

Fans enjoyed a day a Bon Secours training facility watching players gear up for the fall football season. Photos by Alanna Sheppard, Michael Coleman and Trent Johnson

Summer Olympics 2016

Fun Facts about the Summer Olympics

  1. In the ancient Olympics, all athletes competed naked.
  2. The 2016 Summer Olympics mark the first time the games are being held in South America.
  3. French athletes drank wine with each meal despite preexisting Prohibition laws during the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
  4. In 1928, Australian rower Henry Pearce stopped rowing halfway through the race to let a family of ducks swim by.
  5. 2016 Summer Olympics organizers have reported that they will make 60,000 meals daily to feed the competing athletes.
  6. Tug-of-war hasn’t been considered an Olympic sport since the summer of 1920.
  7. At the 1980 Summer Olympics, the gold and silver medals for rowing pairs were awarded to two sets of identical twins.
  8. Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter, was the only female competitor in the 1976 Summer Olympics who didn’t have to take a sex test.
  9. After over 90 years, golf and rugby are returning to the Olympic Games this summer.
  10. Polish athlete Stanisława Walasiewicz, also known as Stella Walsh, won the women’s 100-meter race at the 1932 Summer Olympics. After her death, an autopsy revealed that she was a man.

Fun facts courtesy of the following articles: 
#s 1, 7, 8: http://www.topendsports.com/events/summer/trivia.htm
#s 2, 9: http://www.sportsinside.org/16-facts-about-the-olympic-games-2016-in-rio-de-janeiro/
#s 3, 4, 6: http://www.guy-sports.com/olympics/olympics_trivia.htm
#5: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/sports/rio-2016-16-fun-facts-about-year-s-olympics-n510311
#10: http://www.real-memory-improvement.com/fifty-fascinating-facts-about-the-olympics-pt-1.html

Photos: Courtesy of USRowing
Photos: Courtesy of USRowing

All Eyes on Rio: Local Rower Matt Miller Pulls for Gold in the Summer Games

The race begins in silence, the crisp reflections of perfectly aligned boats shimmering off of the water’s smooth surface. The world’s rowing community comes from far and wide to fill the stands, anxiously awaiting the nose-to-nose finishes that give nations new heroes.

For 27-year-old Matt Miller, his journey to the beautiful bays of Rio Di Janeiro began in Springfield, Va. The competitive redhead spent his childhood bouncing around between soccer, baseball and basketball before taking up football and rowing at West Springfield High School. Little did he know that the casual suggestion of a neighbor to pick up the oars would change his life forever.

After graduation, Miller headed to the University of Virginia to earn a degree in systems and information engineering, while also competing on the rowing team. Despite the program’s club status, Miller is one of five Cavalier alumni that will join current UVA Coach Kevin Sauer on the Olympic rowing team in Rio.

“It starts with an all-out sprint,” Miller says. “Everyone is taking strokes as hard as they can. Since everyone is facing the starting line, it is important to get out early and see where you are. Being behind is a dangerous place to be because your competitors can pull away without you knowing.”

Despite his athleticism and competitive fire, Miller began his international rowing career behind the pack, not knowing when his opportunity would come.

After college, Miller moved to DC, where he spent the early morning hours training rowers at the Potomac Boat Club, and then provided energy ratings and data analysis to DC Energy during office hours. That all changed when he received a call from USRowing Coach Luke McGee.

He joined McGee in January 2014, and made an instant splash, using his tall frame and smooth, long strokes to help propel the Americans to victory in his first international race, the 2014 World Cup II in France.

Using a GoPro and a soundtrack tune, Miller’s documentation of this momentous win became a social sensation, and his videos have since amassed over 150,000 views on YouTube, success he credits to the overwhelming support of the junior rowers.

“Eventually, you have to find a speed that is semi-sustainable. It’s a sprint the whole way, but it’s important to find the right speed for the second and third quarters of the race.”

For Miller, this strength and consistency has been refined through a very detailed training regimen. He wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to get out on the water for his daily 18-kilometer (12-mile) base training, which he explains is his favorite part of being a rower.

“The long training sessions of low intensity workouts can be so relaxing and peaceful,” he says. “You’re out in nature, the scenery is beautiful and the boat is moving quickly without much effort if you are rowing well.”

He will then eat a light lunch and prepare for afternoon practice, which consists of sprint training, twice-a-week weightlifting or personal speed timing on an indoor erg. Interestingly, Miller set an unofficial U.S. record for an erg sprint in the buildup to the Olympic games. While his duties with the national team will always trump any indoor competition, his team and coaching staff still credit him with the best time by an American rower.

The challenge facing Miller in Brazil is that he will be in the men’s four, an event he has competed in for just over a year, albeit a successful year that has seen his team finish first in the 2016 World Cup I in Italy, and fourth in the World Cup II in Switzerland.

“I am the newest guy to the boat,” Miller explains. “I have always been used to having a coxswain, but now we are out there on our own with one of the athletes giving us our strategic moves, so getting the additional experience has been really helpful.”

Two of Miller’s teammates, Henrik Rummel and Charlie Cole, were in the boat that won bronze at London 2012, the first men’s four medal for the Americans in 20 years. Seth Weil will round out the team, hoping to hop higher on the podium in Brazil.

“They give us great perspective,” Miller says of Rummel and Cole. “They know what to expect, and have helped us deal with the distractions of the Olympics, while staying focused on rowing.”

Great Britain is the presumptive favorite for the event, with the U.S., Italy, Australia and the Netherlands as the nations capable of overtaking them.

“At the end of the race, the ratings (strokes per minute) go up as you sprint to the line. You can feel the boat surge at the finish, and glide underneath you as you come up for the next stroke.”

Miller’s next competitive strokes will undoubtedly be the biggest of his career. While recent reports have surfaced questioning the health concerns of the water in Rio, the ultra-competitive UVA grad never even considered missing the race he has spent his whole life trying to reach.

“Racing can be very painful if you focus on how much your muscles hurt,” Miller admits. “But it can also be a thrilling, adrenaline rush experience if you love to compete.”

When the rush and the pain fade, Miller is looking forward to exploring the beaches of Brazil, then returning to Charlottesville with his wife and earning his master’s degree from UVA’s Darden School of Business.

The Olympic experience will begin for Miller with preliminary heats on August 7, likely leading into the August 10 semis and August 12 finals.

To learn more about Matt Miller and the rest of the USRowing team, go towww.usrowing.org.

Photos: Courtesy of USRowing
RecLeagues

The DMV’s Social Sports Scene: 2016 Fall Rec Leagues

*All rec league listings are provided by the individual leagues.

Being cramped in an office is bad for the body. Sometimes you need to jump out the door and let those legs loose on the pavement in order to get exercise and have some fun. Luckily for us, there are plenty of recreation leagues in the area to provide ample opportunities for being social after work or on the weekends. Though Netflix and video games have their appeal, sometimes the best way to recover after a hard stretch of work is to participate in an old-school game with friendly folks. Read on to learn about some of the DC area’s best local leagues.

American Social Sports
www.americansocialsports.com
American Social Sports started as a group of friends with a great love of flag football and sand volleyball. Now partnered with United Social Sports, the main focus remains those two enthralling activities, but we now offer other options such as softball, soccer and bar sports. The best action can be found on The Ellipse on the National Mall for football, or the Lincoln Memorial Sand Volleyball Courts for volleyball. No experience is required for any player in our league, as everyone is welcome. Players can join as free agents, small groups or full teams.

Cap Bocce League
www.capbocce.com
If you’re looking for a way to kick back after a long day at work and spend some quality time with your friends, join Cap Bocce League. No need to bring sweats, cleats or shin guards as this game is about finesse, not fitness. After some friendly competition, head over to your division’s sponsor bar with your team, your opponents and really anyone else. No matter what, this league is geared toward a lot of social interaction while playing a great game. It’s always a good night when there’s bocce on tap. No experience necessary. We welcome players old and new. Players can join as free agents, small groups or full teams.

Capital Cornhole
www.capcornhole.com
Some call it “bags” and some call it, “cornhole,” but whatever you call it, it’s still the same game and you’ll have the same amount of fun. Capital Cornhole is one of our fastest-growing leagues because of how unusual it is. You’ll be outside playing, but also right next to the bar to socialize and hoist a few cold ones.  We have many different locations around the DC area that offer cornhole, and they’re all fantastic venues with food and drinks. No experience needed, and players can join as free agents, small groups or full teams.

Capital Rowing Club
www.capitalrowing.org/crcwp/
Capital Rowing Club brings rowing opportunities and excellence in rowing to the DC community. Capital provides rowing instruction for people of all incomes and levels of physical ability. Also, the club offers both recreational and competitive rowing. Rowers can choose to race in regattas, or just come out for fun. In addition to the great workouts and fun on the water, Capital members enjoy weekly happy hours, monthly events such as Washington Nationals games or brewery tours, and an end-of-the-season gala.

DC Bocce League
www.dcbocce.com
Are you ready to join a sport that is fun, social and accessible to everyone? Look no further than the DC Bocce League. With a beer in one hand and a ball in the other, you’ll learn firsthand that there’s no better way to spend time with friends after work. No experience is necessary to roll with DC Bocce, just the ability to have fun. Join the DC Bocce League and you’ll have an excuse to be outside on a weekday after work while spending quality time with your friends.

DC Cityball
www.dccityball.com
DC Cityball is a sports-first recreational sports league. We offer end-of-the-season parties and charity events, but focus on the game day experience. All of our leagues use permitted fields and certified officials, and most offer skill divisions. Our leagues offer eight-game regular seasons, plus playoffs for all teams. Most of our players are intermediate or experienced, but we welcome all talent levels.

DC Kickball
www.dckickball.org
DC Kickball is the league to be in, and has been around for more than 10 years. Want to start a team and be the captain of it? You’ll play for free. There are also opportunities to earn player credits for other leagues or events hosted. If you like to have fun and meet new people, this is the league to sign up for. No experience needed, whether it’s your first time playing kickball or you’ve been at it since elementary school. Players can join as free agents, small groups or full teams.

DC Skee
www.dcskee.com
Skeeball was the first league that United Social Sports started, and it has continued to stay strong throughout the years. Like almost all of their leagues, the goal is to allow players to meet one another and have a blast. We have tons of different bars all around the DMV that you’re able to play at such as Iron Horse and Buffalo Billiards. Come out ready to get more social and play more often. No experience needed, as new and experienced players are welcomed. Players can join as free agents, small groups or full teams.

DC Social Sports
www.dcsocialsports.com
Now powered by United Social Sports, DC Social Sports offers everything from hockey to bar sports, and everything in between. Get involved this fall with a league or event, and have an amazing time with friends. There are a ton of different indoor and outdoor programs throughout the greater DC area, so you can easily find a league near your office, home or favorite bar. Sports offered include soccer, softball and kickball. You name it, we play it. Players can join the leagues, events as a free agent, small group or full team.

DC Street Hockey
www.dcstreethockey.com
DC Street Hockey offers a great balance of competitive street hockey with social interaction at the rink, post-game tailgates and happy hours. On the rink, we offer the best and most competitive hockey, and the area’s only men’s leagues, though women are highly encouraged to join. Many players start in our lowest division or draft league, where they learn from top players on those teams and progress quickly. It’s a great way to stay in shape, play competitive and affordable hockey, and make some great friends in a new social circle.

District Karaoke
www.districtkaraoke.com
District Karaoke is the DC area’s first and only social karaoke league. It’s team-based, meaning you perform with friends and cheer each other on. Everyone in the bar can vote for their favorite performances using their smartphones. You can form a team, join an existing team or sign up as a free agent. Join District Karaoke if you want to have the time of your life and meet tons of awesome people. No experience necessary – in fact, the less experience, the better.

Fairfax Adult Softball
www.fairfaxadultsoftball.com
Fairfax Adult Softball offers the opportunity to join men’s, women’s, seniors, coed and many more leagues. Currently, the adult league has 20 fields across Fairfax County. Starting this fall, we are offering adult coed kickball. We have leagues for all levels, from beginners to elite players. There’s an opportunity for everyone to play.

FXA Adult Sports
www.PlayFXA.com
FXA Adult Sports is the DMV’s largest coed, men’s and women’s adult sports league with more than 35,000 players. We offer both team and individual (free agent) registrations for our spring, summer, fall and winter seasons. After each game, our sponsor bars provide beer and drink and food specials for teams to socialize and meet other players. To keep competition evenly matched, FXA offers several different divisions – social, casual, competitive and elite – for teams and players of all skill levels.

RECLEAGUES.COM
www.recleagues.com
Established in 1985, we’re one of the longest-running continuous providers of adult leagues, tournaments and social events in the world. The league offers a variety of sports, including flag football, soccer, volleyball, softball, basketball and floor hockey. All ages and skill levels are always welcome.

Social Sports of Arlington
www.socialsportsofarlington.com
Social Sports of Arlington is happy to announce its partnership with United Social Sports, as this pairing of companies brings players more sports, events and ways to get social with an immense number of people in the area. We host soccer, softball, kickball and now flag football in Arlington. With this partnership, players will play more often. No experience needed – just show up ready to play. Players can join as free agents, small groups or full teams.

United Social Sports
www.unitedsocialsports.com
United Social Sports (USS) is the DC area’s largest social sports and events community. USS brings groups of friends and individuals together to participate in different leagues and events that all promote hanging out with players old and new. In addition to sports leagues, USS hosts a slew of events, like yacht parties, tubing trips, Nationals games and player parties. We also have events catered toward the more competitive individual. Our leagues include traditional sports such as flag football, softball, kickball and soccer. No experience needed, no matter if you’re a rookie or a 10-season player. Players can register as a free agent, in a small group or as a full team.

ZogSports
www.zogsports.com/dc
ZogSports is a charity-based social sports league that offers many sports throughout DC and Virginia. You can sign up as a free agent, with friends or as an entire team, and we do the rest. We have fun post-game happy hour specials, end-of-season parties, multiple levels of competition and more. Also, we have organized referees who know the rules and will make your experience a great one.

Buds_and_Burgers (99)

Buds and Burgers at Nationals Park

Bud & Burgers at Nationals Park was an epic battle of the decades with live music from White Ford Bronco, Lloyd Dobler Effect, The Reflex, and As If! DJ Chris Styles and DJ Pat Premier also played the best of the 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s. Sponsored by Budweiser.

Courtesy of Citi Open Tennis Tournament
Courtesy of Citi Open Tennis Tournament

DC’s Citi Open is Back in Action

If you’re a fan of fast-paced, top-tier professional tennis, the Citi Open tennis tournament at Rock Creek Park is probably already on your summer calendar.

But even casual fans – or just those who are simply looking for something new and fun to do – should consider catching a match or two this month. The marquee tennis event, scheduled for July 16-24, marks the 48th consecutive summer that the tournament will be played in Washington.

The Citi Open is the only elite Association of Tennis Professionals World Tour 500-level event held in the United States, and has featured a Women’s Tennis Association international tournament since 2011, making it one of only four tournaments in the country that include both men’s and women’s fields. Champions over the tournament’s history have included some of the most historic names in tennis, including Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and many more.

This year’s schedule boasts some of the most exciting talent in years, including Grigor Dimitrov. The 37th ranked player in the world, Dimitrov is looking to boost his ranking back into the Top 10 where he was in 2014, when he advanced to the semi-finals at Wimbledon. The player is making his third appearance at the Citi Open this summer.

“It is a really great event,” Dimitrov tells On Tap. “For me, it is always my first event [of the season] back on the hard courts, and it is always nice to change things up. I have been very fortunate to get a lot of support at the DC event. They have great volunteers and great fans that make the week very special for me.”

The 25-year-old Dimitrov, who counts tennis legends Pete Sampras and Roger Federer among his role models in the sport, says he’s been working hard to improve his serve.

“I keep my specific tennis goals to myself, but obviously [my overall goal] is to compete with the top players in the game on a weekly basis,” he says. “I want to win the big events and help get my ranking back up to where it was two years ago.”

If Dimitrov performs well at the Citi Open, he can take a significant step toward achieving that goal. Citi Open Tournament Manager Keely O’Brien says the quality of the field is impressive. Among the returning players are top pros John Isner and Caroline Wozniacki, as well as Bob and Mike Bryan, the most accomplished doubles team in the history of tennis.

“We have a great field,” O’Brien says. “Having our tournament moved two weeks ahead so we weren’t back-to-back with the Olympics certainly has helped our player field.”

She says the tournament offers something for everyone – from the tennis aficionado to those who are simply curious.

“This year, we’ve come up with different activities and options for families, young professionals, tennis fans [and even]
non-tennis fans. The nice thing about tennis is if you are not enjoying the game in the center court, you have the ability to go [to] five other outer courts and see another match.”

O’Brien also notes that the tournament is a great place to enjoy the summer weather, as well as the hospitality aspect of the sporting event.
“If you want to get up from your seat, you can come into the tailgate and do that for the entire session.”

Head to Rock Creek Park from July 16-24 for the 2016 Citi Open.

Rock Creek Park Tennis Center: 5220 16th St. NW, DC; 202-722-5949; www.citiopentennis.com

Photo: Courtesy of Citi Open Tennis Tournament

brengle-crushing-it-with-the-kastles

Brengle Crushing It With The Kastles

Madison Brengle hopes her second season with the Washington Kastles can live up to her first.

New to the squad last year, Brengle is now an integral part of a potent team that seeks to claim its sixth straight World Team Tennis (WTT) championship.

Kastles Coach Murphy Jensen used Brengle extensively in both singles and doubles matches during the 2015 season. She went 6-4 in singles sets and 5-3 in doubles, where she was paired with Anastasia Rodionova. Brengle also clinched the final point in the 2015 Mylan WTT Finals, helping the Kastles net their fifth straight title.

“Being a part of the DC team last year and winning the last championship point was just so exciting, and so much fun to be a part of,” Brengle says.
The athlete, who previously played for the Delaware Smash in 2008 and the Kansas City Explorers in 2011, says she has taken to the District quickly.
“I absolutely love DC,” she tells On Tap. “The crowd is fantastic. They get so into it, and it’s so much fun playing in this atmosphere. And there is always so much to do in DC, but I’m pretty partial to the Smithsonian museums.”

Brengle was born in April 1990 and raised in Dover, Del. in a family with strong tennis roots. Her mother comes from a tennis background and started her playing by the age of two.

“I enjoyed watching so many different players growing up,” she says. “In the 90s, there was this great variety of game styles starting to mix, so it was always fun watching and learning from everyone.”

At 17, Brengle decided to bypass playing tennis in college and went straight for the pros.

“I decided to give it my best shot, and will go to college when I finish playing professionally,” she says.

That decision seems to be working out very well for Brengle. She began 2015 by reaching her first Women’s Tennis Association final in Hobart (the capital of Tasmania, Australia) and followed it up with a fourth-round showing at the Australian Open, her best major result. She recorded her first Top 10 win by ousting world No. 4 Petra Kvitova en route to the semifinals in Stuttgart, Germany in April 2015. Her career high singles ranking to date is No. 35, as of May 2015.

Lately, she’s been preparing for the rigors of the 2016 WTT season, which kicks off for the Kastles on the road against the New York Empire on July 31. The team then comes right back to DC to play their home opener on August 1 against the Springfield Lasers.

A coed professional league that was founded in 1973, the WTT today features six teams, including the Kastles, Empire, Lasers, Orange County Breakers, Philadelphia Freedoms and San Diego Aviators. Matches between the teams consists of five sets, including men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles.

The 2016 regular season is scheduled to run July 31 to August 13. The top two teams advance to the Mylan WTT Finals on August 27, which will be held at a site (TBD) in the New York City area.

The Kastles’ roster this year includes newcomers Mardy Fish and twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan. Brengle, Rodionova, Leander Paes, Sam Querrey and Martina Hingis return from last year. Players not returning include Rajeev Ram, Venus Williams and Denis Kudla.

The WTT includes several household names, such as Andy Roddick, Caroline Wozniacki and Hingis, who is returning for her fourth straight season with the Kastles. Hingis has won five Grand Slam singles and 12 doubles titles. She is one of only six players in WTA history to be ranked No. 1 in singles and doubles simultaneously.

“It was awesome getting to be on the team with her,” Brengle says of Hingis. “She has an incredible way of looking at the game, and her advice is so valuable.”

With a full season under her belt, Brengle hopes she can once again get the Kastles a season-clinching point and a sixth straight title.
Catch Brengle and the rest of the Kastles in action at their first home match on August 1.

Kastles Stadium at The Smith Center: 600 22nd St. NW, DC; www.washingtonkastles.com

Photos: Courtesy of The Washington Kastles