By Laurie Graig
Special to the Falls Church Times
October 25, 2013
The George Mason Mustang Field Hockey team played their final two games of the regular season last week. The last home game of their inaugural season, taking place on Senior Night, featured a big crowd that was treated to a tense and exciting contest as the Mustangs gave it their all in a hard-fought battle against the Knights of Bishop O’Connell High School.
The Mustangs dominated the early part of the first half with a number of excellent offensive drives, but were unable to put the ball in the goal. Sarah Macris – who was honored before the game as the team’s sole senior (in contrast the Knights have 8 seniors on their roster) – put her impressive speed to good use and pushed the ball up the field several times, but she and her teammates were unable to convert. Strong defensive play by the Mustangs’ Emma Graig and Caroline Jarrard kept the Knights from scoring as well, and the score was 0-0 at the end of the first half.
The Mustangs continued to play hard in the second half, with the formidable offensive lineup of Callie Gaskins, Darcy Jones, Julianne Kelly, and Caroline Stricker joining Macris in challenging the Knights, but failed to put the ball in the net. Goalkeeper Rachel Skomra was phenomenal in goal for the Mustangs, keeping cool under pressure and stopping a number of scoring chances to keep the score even at 0-0 at the end of regulation play.
The teams continued their evenly matched contest throughout the 15-minute 7-on-7 sudden-victory overtime, but neither team was able to score and the overtime ended 0-0. This led to the first shoot-out in Mustang Field Hockey history. Similar to a shoot-out in soccer, the teams alternate players taking shots on goal. At the end of two rounds of the shoot-out the score the score was 1-1 after Annie Mothershead’s shot beat the Knights’ goalie. But the Knights ultimately prevailed, 2-1, after five rounds of the shoot-out, bringing a long and intense contest to a close.
As further evidence of how far this young Mustang Field Hockey team has progressed, they lost 6-1 to the Knights in the season opener last month. To a player, the Mustangs brought their “A” game and left the field exhausted after an impressive effort. With only one senior graduating, the Mustangs are clearly a team to watch again next fall.
Earlier in the evening, the Mason JV team beat the Knights 2-1. Lydia Gorman and Meredith Johnson scored for the Mustangs.
The Mustangs brought their regular season to a close on Friday when they faced off against the Wolves of Pope John Paul the Great High School on the Wolves’ home field in Dumfries. The contest found the Mustangs working hard to defend their goal against the strong offense of the Wolves. Caroline Duffitt was brilliant in goal, making saves against numerous shots and letting in only one goal halfway through the first half. Junior Caroline Stricker played a strong game on offense and defense. A late second half offensive rally by the Mustangs with less than a minute left on the clock looked promising, but the Mustangs were unable to convert on a beautiful centering pass from Sophomore Julianne Kelly and the game ended with a 1-0 win for the Wolves. The Mustangs faced this team early on in the season and lost 6-1 –yet another sign of how much the team has improved throughout the season. The Mustangs will play post-season conference games at the end of the month.
Mason’s JV squad tied the Wolves 0-0.
By Laurie Graig
Special to the Falls Church Times
October 12, 2013
In the first of two back-to-back home games last week, the George Mason Mustang Field Hockey team played a strong game against the Bengals of Maryland’s Brookewood School.
The evenly matched teams both had their scoring chances in the first half, but Brookewood got on the board first when they scored following a scramble in front of the goal with less than two minutes left in the first half. The Mustangs had some solid offensive drives the first half, especially by Julianne Kelly and Sarah Macris, but the team was unable to put the ball in the goal.
Brookewood scored again seven minutes into the second half. After that, Mason often dominated play, keeping the ball in the Brookewood zone and keeping pressure on the goal. Despite several penalty corners and strong offensive runs, the Mustangs were unable to convert and ended up losing a hard-fought contest to the Bengals, 2-0.
The second home game indicated how much they have improved over this inaugural season. Although it was another loss, the Mustangs came within a goal post of forcing overtime against the Kettle Run High School Cougars, which easily defeated Mason earlier this season.
The hard-fought battle started out evenly, with the Cougars and the Mustangs exchanging scoring chances despite a downpour that continued throughout the game. Kettle Run took a 1-0 lead nine minutes into the first half, but the two sides were evenly matched and each had its scoring chances.
The Mustangs challenged the Cougars repeatedly as the rain grew stronger, including a solid scoring attempt by sophomore forward Darcy Jones, but the score remained 1-0 at the half. The Mustangs fell behind 2-0 halfway through the second half, but Mason fought back and displayed some of its best passing of the season.
Soon after the second Kettle Run goal, sophomore Sarah Lubnow had a strong drive down the field and put the ball in the net for her first goal of the season. Mason benefitted from strong play on defense by junior defender Emma Graig, sophomore midfielder Caroline Stricker, and goalkeeper Caroline Duffitt, holding the Cougars to only two goals. With time running out and the rain still pouring down, the Mason attack intensified and junior Ava McDonald fired a shot that beat the Kettle Run goalkeeper…but hit the post.
A Mason penalty corner with less than two minutes left in the game led to another set of scoring chances, but Mason in the end fell short, 2-1. Senior Sarah Macris and sophomore Caroline Stricker were both solid on offense throughout the game. Though disappointed with the loss, Mason could look at how much they had improved since losing to Kettle Run, 6-0, only two weeks ago.
Earlier in the evening the Mustangs junior varsity squad lost to Kettle Run, 2-0.
By Laurie Graig
Special to the Falls Church Times
October 3, 2013
George Mason High School’s Varsity Field Hockey team savored the sweet taste of victory with a decisive 8-0 win over Washington’s School Without Walls on Tuesday. It was the first win of Mason’s inaugural season as a varsity sport.
Playing to a good-sized home crowd, the Mustangs came out strong early, with sophomore forward Callie Gaskins putting the Mustangs on the board first in the first 4 minutes of play. On the third of a series of penalty corners (similar to corners in soccer), sophomore midfielder Caroline Stricker slammed the ball into the goal on a ball sent in from Korrine Wills. On a fourth penalty corner, Stricker had another beautifully hit goal on a ball sent in by Sabine Wills, bringing the score to 3-0 at the half.
The Mustangs continued to dominate in the second half, with junior forward Eleanor Langford scoring two minutes into the second half. Defender Emma Graig planted the ball in the Penguins’ goal shortly thereafter. Caroline Stricker’s solid slapshot then secured her a hat trick and put the Mustangs up, 6-0. Two more goals by the Mustangs, first by forward Sabine Wills then by forward Sarah Macris, brought the final score to 8-0.
“I am so proud of my teammates for coming out and giving it their all,” said co-captain Sarah Macris after the win. Co-captain Emma Graig agreed: “It was great to pick up our first win as a varsity sport and it was truly a full team effort.”
As the newest varsity sport at George Mason High School, the Mustang field hockey team has enjoyed an exciting but tough inaugural season. The Mustangs have faced formidable challenges, playing larger schools with more established field hockey teams. But what they lacked in experience they made up for in resilience, perseverance, athleticism, and competitive spirit, playing each game to the fullest. That all paid off and the Mustangs’ first victory was very sweet indeed.
The Mustangs face Foxcroft High School in an away game in Middleburg Thursday, but have two back-to-back home games next week at 6 p.m. on Tuesday the 8th against Brookewood School and 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday the 9th of October (JV plays at 6 p.m.) against Kettle Run High School.
Jessie Thackrey, a beloved civic leader who was widely known for her extraordinary civic leadership as a founder of the City of Falls Church, the matriarch of the Falls Church City Public Schools and as the first female senior warden at The Falls Church Episcopal, died September 28, 2013 at her home on West Rosemary Street. She was 100.
Ms. Thackrey was born Jessie Dean on a farm in Homewood, Kansas, June 14, 1913 – just after Woodrow Wilson began his first term as President and just before World War I began in Europe. It was an uncertain time in the nation’s history, but the fifth of John and Eva Dean’s six children was destined to make history of her own.
Thackrey’s local civic accomplishments in Falls Church date back to 1941, when she and her husband, Franklin, moved from Nebraska with their young family to their home on Rosemary in what was then the Town of Falls Church. At that time, their street was a dirt road without curbs, gutters or sewers. Water shortages and flooding were frequent problems in the town, and the aging, crowded schools were deteriorating. The town charter gave local appointed officials little authority to do anything about it, and no one in town was happy with the level of service the Town of Falls Church was getting from Fairfax County.
“I came from Kansas and when I look back I consider that our country school was really quite good and when we came here to Virginia, we expected everything to be that way and it wasn’t,” she said in a 2009 interview commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Falls Church City Public Schools. “At the time, they didn’t even have an 8th grade.”
The civic-minded Thackreys and other Falls Church citizens decided to take matters into their own hands. In 1948, after the town reached the required population of 5000, local leaders obtained the necessary legislation to form an independent city. Franklin served as chairman of the City of Charter Committee. A year later, the Falls Church City Public Schools were formed, and Jessie found her calling in volunteer service. She was an active participant in 4H, president of the Thomas Jefferson PTA, Chair of the United Givers Fund, which provided school supplies, clothing and shoes to needy children, and she served as editor of several Falls Church City Public Schools newsletters for more than two decades. She was also active in the League of Women Voters, Citizens for a Better City and served on the board of Northern Virginia Community College, serving as Chair her final term.
Thackrey served on the Falls Church City School Board from 1962 to 1970, and was vice chair during her second four-year term. During her school board service, Falls Church City became the first Virginia school system to offer kindergarten and the first Virginia city school system to voluntarily integrate its schools. She spoke of those accomplishments with great pride well into her 90s during her visits to local elementary school classrooms. She was especially fond of visiting students at Mt. Daniel School, where she shared old photographs and described what life was like when she was their age. There were fewer stars on the flag back then, few motorized vehicles on the road and no video games, she would explain, as students listened with wonder in their eyes. “We went to school at 9:00 and got out at four and I had to go 2-1/2 miles to school and I went to school in a horse and buggy,” she told a group of Thomas Jefferson Elementary students just a few months before her 100th birthday.
In the 1970s, Thackrey became the first female senior warden at the Falls Church Episcopal, where she had been a member since 1941. She provided strong leadership at a time when the church was looking for a new rector.
In 2006, after the congregation became embroiled in a bitter, five-year, headline-making split that led to a legal battle over property rights, Thackrey, the longest serving member of the church at the time, was called upon to provide valuable historical information as the court case evolved. She and the other Episcopalians exiled from The Falls Church worshipped in the loft of the Falls Church Presbyterian until 2011, when the court ordered the Anglican congregation to return The Falls Church and its contents to the Episcopal Church. Though she primarily used a wheelchair in later years, Thackrey was determined to walk up the stairs of the old church when she returned for that first service, Easter Sunday, 2011. She was 97 at the time and hadn’t quite recovered from pneumonia. But with the help of a couple of vestry members, she walked up the stairs and proceeded to her usual seat in the middle of the second pew. It was a symbolic gesture signifying the congregation’s long-awaited return home.
In May, Thackrey reflected on her life and her legacy to her community.
“I’ve had some sorrows, as most of us have, but I’ve had some wonderful times. It’s been great to be part of watching a city grow and the schools grow.” Of all of her accomplishments, she said there is one that stands out to her as the greatest. “My children. I’m so proud of my children.”
She is survived by her children Janet Daugherty of La Mesa, CA, Maureen Lischke (husband Erv) of Victor, MT, Keith Thackrey (wife Jeanie) and Sue Thackrey, both of Falls Church, 8 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, and many, many honorary children. She was preceded in death by her husband, Franklin in 1990; her son, Kent, in 2001; and her daughter, Karen, in 1945.
A memorial service will be held in The Falls Church Episcopal on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 3:00 PM, with a reception to follow in the Fellowship Hall.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Falls Church Education Foundation, 800 W. Broad St., Suite 203, Falls Church, VA 22046.
By Joel Hamme
Special to the Falls Church Times
September 28, 2013
The George Mason High School Athletic Hall of Fame will hold induction ceremonies over the weekend of October 18-19.
Inductees and honorees will be recognized at the Friday night, October 18th, home football game against Warren County High School, and inductions will be held the following day in the Mustang Gym at the Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School. A reception will start that evening at 5:30 pm, and the ceremonies will begin at 7 pm.
Inductees and honorees include two student athletes from some time ago: Kenneth “Powers” Shutts (Class of 1957) in track and football and Todd McNab (1964) in football and baseball.
More recent graduates to be honored include Colleen Winzeler (2000) in cross-country and track; Alex Fatovic (2004) for soccer; Alison Penland (2004) in soccer and cross-country; triple threat Matt Williams (2004) for football, basketball, and lacrosse; and Maggie O’Toole (2006) in basketball and cheer.
The entire 1986 boys’ tennis team will be recognized, and the 1962 baseball team will receive a Special Achievement Award for notable accomplishments in an era prior to post-regular season play.
Another triple threat, Travis Greene (2006) who played football, basketball, and track, is unable to attend and will defer induction until later.
Food and beverages will be served at the Saturday night reception. The cost of admission is $15 per person.
People interested in attending may obtain tickets in advance by contacting Joel Hamme at firstname.lastname@example.org or by going to the George Mason High School Athletics website at http://www.masonathletics.org/ and clicking on “SHOP” on the top banner.
Admissions also will be accepted at the door without prior reservations.
By Sally Ekfelt
Special to the Falls Church Times
Sept. 19, 2013
The seminal issue of the fast-approaching local election is the public referendum on the proposed sale of the Falls Church City Water System to Fairfax County Water Authority. Through a court order, our city is no longer able to profit from the utility’s operation in any meaningful financial way, and our City Council has decided that the best decision in light of that order is to sell the water system to the only legally allowable buyer – the Fairfax County Water Authority – for a price of $40 million.
Without a doubt, this transfer would represent the end of an era, the loss of sovereignty over our water system which extends well beyond our city boundaries, covering an area of 33 square miles and providing approximately 5 billion gallons of water to 120,000 people each year.
But, this loss is not without certain recompense. The Water Sale agreement includes a city boundary adjustment which will transfer land, owned by the city but controlled by the county, into the City of Falls Church – providing for the first time Falls Church City sovereignty over the development of this land and all the resulting profits and taxes. These monies could potentially offset the loss of the City’s water profits, keep property taxes from escalating, and provide needed capital for City projects – such as a new high school.
The agreement also would end the litigation that has cost millions of dollars in legal fees and could improve relations with our Fairfax County neighbors, who believed, and a judge concurred, that Falls Church City was, in effect, taxing Fairfax citizens through the mechanism of a “profit” without those Fairfax residents having any meaningful say. In addition, Fairfax Water Authority has promised eventually to lower the water utility rates charged to City residents to a rate comparable to those charged in Fairfax County, a rate lower than what we pay now. Finally, given the court-ordered restrictions placed upon the City, Fairfax Water Authority may be in a better position than Falls Church to financially sustain this water resource.
So there are positives and negatives associated with the water sale. Many questions remain to be asked and answered surrounding this critical issue. Falls Church City voters will make the final decision on the water sale in this November’s elections. If voters approve, the sale will go through. If they don’t, the sale plan dies.
The League of Women Voters (LWV) and the Village Improvement and Preservation Society (VPIS) hosted an excellent Water Referendum Forum last Sunday at the Falls Church Community Center to provide a platform to address this issue. This event was taped and can be viewed. Please visit the VPIS website for information.
Joining their efforts, Citizens for a Better City (CBC), the Falls Church Republican and Democratic Committees, and the Falls Church American Legion Post will be co-hosting another Water Referendum Forum open to the public on Thursday, September 26th at 7:30 PM at the FC American Legion Post 130, 400 N. Oak Street and again at 7:30 PM on Wednesday, October 23rd at Creative Cauldron, 410 South Maple Ave. It is essential to provide as many opportunities as our volunteer organizations are able for Falls Church City residents to learn about the Water Sale Referendum – the consequence of which will fundamentally affect the future of our city.
In addition, City Hall will be conducting two “Water Sale” Town Hall meetings at the Community Center – the first on Saturday, September 28th from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM and the second on Wednesday, October 16th from 7:00 – 9:00 PM.
We urge you to join us. An informed, engaged electorate is essential for good government and a viable future in The Little City.
By Falls Church Times Staff
Sept. 18, 2013
We knew there would be growing pains during the inaugural season for George Mason’s varsity field hockey team. Playing against more experienced teams was expected to be a challenge, and that proved true as the girls lost their first four games.
But they provided fans some excitement at Monday’s home game and moved closer to a victory at the same time, tying the score 1-1 with less than a minute to play on a powerful shot by sophomore midfielder Caroline Stricker.
Unfortunately, the Mustangs succumbed in overtime to Arlington’s Wakefield High School Warriors, 2-1.
Earlier, the Mustangs’ junior varsity team beat Wakefield, 2-1, with Lydia Gorman scoring both goals for Mason. That improved the JV’s record to 2-2, with one tie.
By Laurie and Ian Graig
Special to the Falls Church Times
Sept. 5, 2013
The George Mason High School girls field hockey team plays its second ever game and first home game tonight.
The Mustangs face the Pioneers of Patriot High School, with the junior varsity game kicking off the action at 6 p.m., followed by the varsity game at 7:30. Come cheer for the newest addition to the GMHS Fall Athletic Lineup!
Mason just added the field hockey program this year; the team is being coached by former University of Virginia field hockey goalie Amanda Crider.
The team opened their inaugural season Tuesday with a loss by the varsity to Bishop O’Connell High School, 6-1. They fell behind 3-0 in the opening five minutes. The first goal scored by the team belongs to Callie Gaskins, with an assist from Caroline Striker, who provided a well-placed pass to set it up.
The JV team tied O’Connell, 1-1, with a goal from Mason’s Gabe Brown.