Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Praises UMBC Men’s Basketball Team in Annapolis

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March 26, 2018,  Sharing the Details had the exclusive privilege to cover the UMBC Retrievers first with a reception at Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s Annapolis Mansion and, later, witnessing wide-spread recognition on the senate floor from key state politicians.

University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) made NCAA tournament history on March 16, 2018, when the Retrievers became the first No.16 seed to beat a No.1 with a 74-54 win against the Cavaliers (University of Virginia, UVA) in Charlotte, Virginia.  No one, except the Governor of Maryland, predicted this win.

The day before the game, the governor tweeted his bracket, boldly stating that UMBC will not only beat No.1 seed Virginia but could also make history and take the national title.

Through grit, determination, and with Coach Ryan Odom’s leadership, UMBC, a school joked as nothing more than a “commuter school” became a national treasure. The team even sported the front page of Sport’s Illustrated! This glory came to a brief cessation when the Retrievers lost their next game against Kansas State, with a score of 50-43. However, that doesn’t change the historical context. This game changed March madness—forever.

It’s also a good thing that Coach Odom will continue to stay with the team for future seasons. There was talk before about the possibility of him leaving but he did declare at this event that he will stay committed to the team.

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Of course my eyes would be closed when I meet First Lady of Maryland, Yumi Hogan at the Governor’s Mansion.

So an event of this grandeur could only mean that I leave the office before rush hour traffic. I was lucky to find street parking just a few blocks down which is rare since parking tends to be a hassle in the state capital. Moreover, there was no way I was going to be a second late!

I was ill-prepared, fashion wise, for this historical event. What I wore at the office was a black Calvin Klein dress I had since forever,  red Michael Kors shoes, and Italian made sterling silver earrings. I didn’t even have time to dab on any make up. I was so au naturale that even R&B singer, Alicia Keys would be proud.

As soon as I parked my car, I ran to the press area. The UMBC bus rolled in with players queuing out, in a dapper style.

Last but not least was the fun, adorable, spirited Chesapeake Retriever mascot who had the crowd laughing with his hilarious antics. Did you know that the Maryland state dog is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever? Did you also know that these dogs are characterized as being loyal, versatile and having great endurance?

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I regret not taking enough videos of the mascot. He had me and even the Governor laughing so hard!

This momentous occasion was also the first time I ever went inside the Governor’s home, let alone the Maryland State House. The Government house is actually across the street from the state house, and has been home to several Maryland governors for 145 years.  This Georgian style home was built in 1870, of the style of the Victorian era, with majestic doors carved with the Maryland Coat of Arms.

Guests, press, and political figures piled into the home and was warmly greeted by the Governor and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (whom I met before at the Black History Month Awards Ceremony). The spiraling staircase, in the Entrance Hall, and portraits of Queen Henrietta Maria (whom Maryland was named), and Cecil Calvert (founder of the state) added an extra allure to this visit.

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Gov. Larry Hogan with Pres. of UMBC, Freeman A. Hrabowski III, and UMBC players pictured at the bottom.  On the top right, the Governor is speaking with Coach Odom and his wife.

Half the guests towered over me, since they were basketball players after all.  Attendees mingled and networked inside the library, where a newly minted painting of Frederick Douglas was hung in commemoration of Black History month this year. Finger foods that were served in the dining hall were vegetable empanadas w/ chipotle aioli; chilled shrimp platter; skirt steak bruschetta; baked brie w/honey & almonds; chicken, caramelized onion & gruyere tarts, and peanut butter mouse cups. I ate these delicious morsels on dainty china with golden forks and spoons.

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UMBC Retrievers, Pres. of UMBC, Freeman A. Hrabowski III, Coach Ryan Odom, Gov. Larry Hogan, and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford.

Chatter died down and all eyes were on the Governor.  He remarked that he heard about the win when he was in his “man cave”. He was jumping up and down and was overjoyed by the news.  No one could expect a No.16 seed defeating a No.1 seed.

“All the analysts,pundits and experts were saying that they didn’t really give you guys much of a chance. Well, nobody except me believed in this win. My bracket had you going all the way.”

The Governor later went into how the players played with “true heart” and firm “grit in this immense game. His pride in the team emanated through the inflection of his voice, his smile, and through his soaring speech on embracing the underdog spirit.

Towards the end of the ceremony, the Governor presented the Retrievers with a plaque recognizing their accomplishments and handed out a governor’s coin to each player. The players honored the Governor and later, the Senate, by awarding copies of the Sports Illustrated issue with an image of the team’s win.

After the ceremony, players lined up inside the Maryland State house where senators, teachers, parents, players, and press gave the team a standing ovation. It was a long night, and after the standing ovation, players left to trek back home. However, not without taking the cutest pictures with young fans aged five years through nine.

According to WaPo, Senior Jairus Lyles, who played high school basketball nationally, wont be returning next season. However, starting forward Joe Sherburne, along with 12 players are set to return next season.

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Inside and outside the Maryland State House.

The 2018 Final Four is underway. Tune in April 2, 2018 for Monday’s national title game. 

 

 

Uncorking with Nationals Pitcher Gio González

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On July 27, 2017, Washington Nationals Pitcher Gio González announced his 2017 Uncork for a Cause charity program with a special event at Teddy & The Bully Bar to raise awareness and funding for The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and Hialeah Baseball of Hialeah High School, González’ alma mater. 

Gio González, along with his teammates and special guests gathered together at Teddy & The Bully Bar. The evening also served as the release party for the Pitcher’s very own 2014 Sonoma Reserve Red Wine, which was available only during this particular event. Only one limited-edition barrel was bottled for González charity program.

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A limited number of VIP tickets were available and included a private pre-event reception and upscale wine tasting from Far Niente Wine Estates. Also, guests had a photo opportunity with Gio and his teammates.

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Washington Nationals Player Max Scherzer serving drinks.
Courtesy Photo by Mike Braaten

Guests enjoyed an enticing culinary menu specially designed by award-winning Executive Chef Demetrio Zavala, beer and wine poured by Nationals team players, as well as an opportunity to participate in an auction featuring Game-used Nationals gear and memorabilia, local and national sports items, wine lots from some of California’s elite producers, and travel opportunities to wine country.

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Gio González in center, standing with guests in front of the backdrop of his fundraising event. Courtesy Photo by Mike Braaten

The event was a success and All those involved to make this event happen are of the following:

Gio González is an outstanding athlete playing as a baseball pitcher for the Washington Nationals. González is a Strikeout pitcher who has once set a Nationals record when he pitched 25 consecutive scoreless innings. He has called his curve balls a blessing taught by his father. His generosity and eagerness to help the children who grew up from roots similar to his upbringing, thus allows for this event to occur.

Uncork For A Cause is a collection of people, professional athletes, and celebrities working together to give back to the communities where they live, have lived, and work.  Developed by TAG Sports, it was created as a way to bring the world of fine wines and unique, personalized collectibles to eager fans, and to benefit those in need through various local and national foundations.

The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation is committed to improving the lives of children and teens in the Washington, D. C. area by supporting initiatives focused on academics, the arts, nutrition and sports. Through the generosity of Nationals fans and corporate partners, the Dream Foundation is using the power of baseball to provide a world of opportunity for area youth.

Hialeah Baseball provides financial support and planning directly to the Hialeah High School baseball team, where Gio began his career and won two state championships. Funding supports the kids and team in travel expense, field maintenance, equipment and provides opportunities on and off the field for Thoroughbreds baseball to excel. Proceeds from Gio’s charity event provided new home and road uniforms, hats and cleats for the team.

Teddy & The Bully Bar is a salute to Theodore Roosevelt, one of the most popular and gallant American Presidents. Locally sourced menu, distinctive bar program and stunning interior design by DC artist Maggie O’Neill, the venue captures the essence of Teddy. Known to host incredible private events, corporate functions, weddings and gatherings of all kinds, and accommodates a lively Happy Hour to anyone who walks in.

Baseball Season Tickets for all 2018 regular season home games at National Park are on sale nowOpening Day tickets will go on sale on Today, March 8, 2018 at Noon. Opening day is April 5, 2018 at 1:05PM.