Currently viewing the tag: "Mount St. Mary’s"

Blair Garrett

Mount St. Mary’s is making a splash in the water polo scene.

Entering the tail end of the team’s schedule, head coach Alyssa Diacono has her team dialed in and rolling through late stages of the season.

“We’re going on to season three, and this is only our second full season since COVID,” Diacono said. “We’ve had a really good sophomore and junior class, and we’ve brought in a freshman class that complements it, so it’s just been a fun season so far.”

Diacono’s men’s team has made waves so far this year, drastically improving on their successes from last season, with plenty of time left to solidify a solid 2022 campaign.

With the program being so young and having to navigate through seasons interrupted by issues with an international pandemic, growing pains are to be expected.

Diacono is now at the helm of both the men’s and women’s programs and is looking to keep improving with every game. 

“This is the first season that I’ve had a full roster,” she said. “We have 23 men and 21 women, so it’s definitely an adjustment, but I have an awesome assistant coach, Justin Vink, who has been a big help.”

Coaching and managing the ins and outs of a collegiate level team is a tough task, but Diacono seems to have found her calling since her days as a player.

“The men play in the fall, and the women play in the spring,” she said. “That allows us to focus on scouting and recruiting for the men now, and then we can switch over to preparing the women as the fall season finishes.”

Diacono and Vink splitting duties has helped the whole operation run much smoother, and it has allowed them the freedom to apply their expertise to the players as needed. The development of the program in the coming years will be, in huge part, due to the efforts the current coaching staff has put in.

“Both teams understand what they’ve gotten themselves into, and they’re both big supporters of each other’s programs, which as a coach helps me a lot,” Diacono said.

With water polo being such a niche sport still, the growth of the game is incredibly important to start at the youth level. Programs across the country have made a tremendous difference pulling young athletes from other sports to try water polo.

“USA Water Polo has done a really great job at building up the sport at the youth level,” Diacono said. “At the Mount, we run clinics and things like that. We’ve brought kids from the Waynesboro YMCA to watch our games.”

The game’s growth at the high school level has really taken off. High school leagues in water polo hotbeds like California, Texas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have made a major impact on the future of the sport. A lot of water polo teams have to rely on pulling athletes from more traditional team sports, and that’s the same way Diacono got her start.

“I played any sport you can imagine growing up,” Diacono said. “I had a few injuries, and I met a friend who played water polo, so I juggled that and softball my freshman year of high school, and I just stuck to water polo. I got a late start to the sport, so I think that’s why I still love it so much and never got burned out.”

Diacono’s dedication to the game took her to the collegiate level and beyond, and now she brings her wealth of experience to the Mount with hopes of pursuing the same level of success. 

“I went and played at San Diego State, I played professionally in Australia, and then I started coaching at Mercyhurst in Erie, Pennsylvania, as a graduate assistant,” she said. “From there, the Mount opened the position for starting both programs and picked me.”

As a recent player, the transition to running a collegiate team is a daunting task, but Diacono and company have taken things in stride with no plans on looking back.  

“Coaching is exciting, but it’s just a different part of the game. I obviously loved playing but being able to implement what I’ve learned and even have a different perspective as a coach has been awesome,” Diacono said.

Despite the challenges the team dealt with throughout Mount St. Mary’s opening few seasons, Mount water polo is in good hands with Diacono steering the ship.

Head Coach Alyssa Diacono leads both the men’s and women’s squads through the 2022 season.

Photo by Blair Garrett

James Rada, Jr.

Mount St. Mary’s University is planning for a return to near-normal operations and face-to-face instruction for undergraduate students in Fall 2021. Remote teaching and learning options will only be available by exception.

While the vast majority of Mount students are safely living, learning, and engaging in activities, such as athletics on campus in the current academic year, classes are being offered in a hybrid format to maintain physical distancing protocols. Multiple co-curricular activities are only presented via Zoom, and approximately 15 percent of students are learning in a fully remote environment.

“With vaccination rates increasing, we expect that a sufficient percentage of our community will be vaccinated by the end of summer to significantly reduce the transmission of coronavirus. As a result, our planning for the fall is based on the expectation that we will be approaching pre-COVID-19 conditions,” said President Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D. “This not only means a return to full on-campus instruction, but also the complete range of on-campus living, learning, research, service, and extracurricular activities that are a major part of the Mount experience.”

Undergraduate classes will begin Monday, August 23, with first-year students moving in on August 19. The full undergraduate academic calendar, including a fall break, is available here.

The university anticipates offering study-abroad opportunities starting in December 2021, with a winter break trip to Spain that includes a six-credit Spanish course. Full-semester programs in Florence, Italy and Cuenca, Ecuador are being planned for the Spring 2022 semester, as well as shorter spring break trips to London and Southern Spain in 2022.

Health standards will be applied to all activities, so there may be some changes from how the university operated in 2019, but it will look more normal than 2020-21.

These plans are based on projections and are subject to change as needed to address reality in the fall. Based on guidance from public health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Maryland Department of Health, and Frederick County Health Department, decisions about whether masks will be required in classrooms and other indoor and outdoor campus areas, as well as COVID-19 testing protocols, will be finalized in the summer.

The Mount Safe Initiative webpage will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.

“We will be ready again in August to welcome students on campus,” Trainor said.

Following a national search, Mount St. Mary’s University (MSM) has named John Nauright, Ph.D. (pictured right), as dean of the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business, effective June 14, 2021. He brings to the Mount deep experience in developing and leading innovative business programs both in the United States and internationally.

Nauright currently serves as dean of the Stephen Poorman College of Business, Information Systems and Human Services and director of the Clearfield Campus at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania. He directs programs in business management and marketing; finance, insurance, and risk management; accounting; computer science; recreation and tourism management; cultural heritage management; sport management; sport psychology; clinical mental health counseling; criminal justice; and social work as well as offering an integrative studies program and minors in entrepreneurship and environmental studies.

At Lock Haven, he created multiple external partnerships, including with Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club of the Premier League in England; Preservation Pennsylvania; and Higher Digital, LLC.

“We are excited to have John join our Mount community and to see the business school grow and form more partnerships with area, national, and international business that foster student success,” said Mount St. Mary’s University President Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D. “John’s wealth of experience in both traditional and adult education and years of leadership on multi-campus universities will be invaluable to the Mount as we continue to expand our offerings both in Emmitsburg and Frederick.”

Nauright looks forward to shaping the Bolte School into a national and international leader in business education and the role of business in social and economic transformation. “I am thrilled to join the team at the Mount as we continue to develop incredible opportunities for both traditional on-campus students and adult and continuing education students,” Nauright said. “The vision, ethical values, and approach to educating the whole person at the Mount is crucial to individual success and to the futures of our society and the world.”

Nauright comes to the Mount as the Knott Academic Center expansion and renovation moves into higher gear. The project, funded by a state grant and generous donations from the Bolte Family Foundation and Raphael Della Ratta, C’92, includes construction of an approximately 15,000 square foot addition and renovation of the 49,074 square foot existing building.  The upgrade includes enhancing the learning environment and building new classrooms, a Bloomberg Classroom Laboratory, and faculty offices. The university also now offers its MBA program both in person and fully online.

The former vice president of the Dallas Griffins, now Dallas Jackals, of Major League Rugby, Nauright has lived and worked in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Barbados, Denmark, and Scotland. In addition to being a visiting professor at leading universities in Barbados, China, Ghana, India, and Russia, he is the author or editor of 27 books and has written over 150 refereed articles and chapters in the areas of sport, event, and tourism management. He has made numerous media appearances around the world.

After receiving both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history at the University of South Carolina, Nauright earned his Ph.D. in African history, comparative history, and political economy at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Led by Executive Vice President Kraig Sheetz, Ph.D., the search committee was assisted by RH Perry & Associates, based in Asheville, North Carolina.

blair garrett

Development is the path to success, and the Mount St. Mary’s Men’s Basketball team is geared up and ready for its 2019-20 campaign.

The young guns are back and refreshed after a long offseason, with the team soon closing out its final week of training camp before the regular season kicks off.

Last season, the Mount suited up a full roster of underclassmen, including nine freshmen. This season is also head coach Dan Engelstad’s second behind the bench, and the extra year to build chemistry between the players and the system has done wonders for the cohesion of the team.

“We speak a similar language now,” Engelstad said. “Last year was trying to teach a new system and how we play, and now we’re speaking that common language, and for us to see the growth of our guys and see how far they’ve come is really enjoyable.”

Returning eight of those freshmen and five sophomores gives Mount St. Mary’s a sense of familiarity cruising into this season, and having a roster with a full year under its belt as a team is something that inspires confidence in Engelstad.

“Now we’re demanding more, and our expectations are higher for us,” Engelstad said. “It’s been a really fun experience to come to the gym every day and work with these guys.”

Hard work pays off, and a few key players who stepped up last season will be looked to once again to lead the team. 

The Northeast Conference (NEC) will be on high alert with Mount guard Vado Morse on the court. Morse put up stellar numbers as the season wore on, and only got better during the in-conference matchups over the latter half of the year. The All-Rookie team star added another accolade to his already impressive resume, being named NEC Rookie of the Year, joining elite company with just two other players in Mount history. Morse scored 10 or more in 18 of 20 games last season, including seven 20-plus point efforts and scored back-to-back career highs against LIU Brooklyn and St. Francis Brooklyn. 

Morse, along with Jalen Gibbs and Omar Habwe are a dynamic trio, with each threatening from beyond the arc and with explosive drives to the hoop. Morse and guard Damian Chong Qui were excellent at facilitating the offense, habitually finding shooting lanes and the open man to give the team the best opportunity to score. The pair led the team in assists last season, cashing in on 160 assists combined. 

Mount St. Mary’s has balance throughout the lineup, with players across the bench able to step up and contribute on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. “We really feel like our depth is now a strength,” Engelstad said. “We didn’t feel like we could go as deep into our bench as we can this year.”

Malik Jefferson and Nana Opoku provide a strong defensive prowess and high compete level for rebounds to extend the play. Jefferson led the team last season in rebounds per game, and both players are heavily relied upon for putting aggressive defensive pressure on opposing forwards.

The Mount has a lot to look forward to this season, and it all begins with a few major tests on the road to kick off the November. Mount St. Mary’s takes on Georgetown University, University of Washington, and the University of Kentucky all in the first three weeks of the season, giving the group ample time to perfect systems and experience big teams on a big stage before facing in-conference opponents. 

“[We want] to see how connected we are,” Engelstad said. “We’ve done a lot of work this offseason, starting right as the season ended, growing as a team and growing our culture, discipline, and trying to take that next step. That next step for us is competing against some of the best teams in the country and finding out where we stand.”

The Mount has been making all the right strides to continue competing at the highest level, and Engelstad and company will be more than prepared on opening day. Mount St. Mary’s basketball tips off Nov. 6 against Georgetown at 7:00 p.m. You can catch the game live on CBS Sports Network.  

NEC Rookie of the Year Vado Morse pictured above.

Blair Garrett

A scorching hot second half led the Mount to its biggest win of the season, smashing conference rivals Robert Morris University, 76-62.

The Mount struggled to keep consistent pressure in the first half, with RMU taking an early stranglehold on the game. Robert Morris clung to a double-digit lead for the majority of the first half, battling the Mountaineers up and down the court for every possession.

Mount St. Mary’s pushed back, closing the gap to a three-possession game just before the buzzer sounded for the first half. After a halftime show filled with dancing, fun, and dogs doing double dutch jump rope, the crowd was fired up, and so was the Mount to go out and finish the game strong.

That’s exactly what they did, firing off an explosive start, putting up a 10-2 run to even up the scores. The Mount looked dominant on offense, threatening quality scoring chances on every drive, but they were even stronger on the defensive side of the ball.

As the Mountaineers turned up the pressure with its full-court press, Robert Morris shooting percentages plummeted, and turnovers became their Achilles heel. The tides were officially turned on a defensive clinic put on by freshman guard Damian Chong Qui, who stole the ball at the Robert Morris baseline and immediately fed the ball with a no-look pass to Omar Habwe, who was waiting just inside the paint to slam it home.

Hawbe’s dunk came at the perfect time, igniting the crowd and the offense when Mount St. Mary’s momentum was peaking. The defender watched helplessly as Habwe slammed the basked out of his reach, prompting the bench to storm the court after a Robert Morris timeout.

The Colonials never recovered throughout the rest of the game, getting outscored 45-24 in the second half and failing to put together consistent pressure. The Mount kept its foot on the gas, thwarting the Robert Morris offense at every turn.

Mount St. Mary’s guard Vado Morse led the charge all game, sinking critical shots to continue propelling the Mount to victory. Morse ended the game with a game-high 21 points, four rebounds, and four assists.

The defining difference in the game was Mount St. Mary’s ability to transition quickly into offense, leaving Robert Morris struggling to keep up. The Mount outscored RMU 11-0 in points on fast breaks, and the team’s bench put up a staggering 21 points, one of its best totals on the season.

Forward Dee Barnes had a few important contributions off the bench, but none at a better time than his four-point play with the score knotted at 43. Barnes drained a three, getting fouled on the play, and put the free throw home to grab a lead for the Mount that it would hold for the rest of the game.

The win was particularly sweet as RMU had defeated the Mount in a nail biter earlier in the season, giving the team a bit of redemption with the final games of the season approaching. As February comes to a close and March rolls in, the team will be looking toward playoff season and hopes to carry momentum from the team’s win over RMU into the postseason.      

The Mount’s Vado Morse drives the lane en route to a 21-point game.

James Rada, Jr.

Morris Blake spent decades working in security with Maryland Department of Natural Resources, National Park Service, Francis Scott Key Mall, Frederick County, and Mount St. Mary’s; but, last year, he turned in his badge to become a hair stylist and has never been happier.

Blake, who turns fifty-seven this year, has lived in Thurmont all of his life.

“I live in the same house they brought me home from the hospital to,” Blake said.

He started working for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as a ranger at Cunningham Falls when he was twenty-two years old.

One incident he remembers from this time is when he and his training officers approached a man near the dam, who was sitting on the pipe hole. They saw that he had weapons in his vehicle, and they convinced the man to come up from where he was sitting to talk to them.

The man was depressed, but cooperative. When the training officer asked if it would be all right to check the man’s weapons, the man reached into the vehicle, pulled out his shotgun, and racked it.

“They didn’t give up bulletproof vests, but I tell you, every day after that, I wore one,” recalled Blake.

Although this man proved to be harmless, Blake realized that he could easily have been shot, so he went and bought his own bulletproof vest to wear from then on.

After seven years with the State of Maryland, he moved across the road to become a ranger with the Mounted Horse Patrol at Catoctin Mountain Park. He enjoyed working with the horses, in particular, giving rides to handicapped children who came to the park. However, tightening budgets cost the park its two horses, Jimmy and Commander, who were sent to work at the St. Louis Arch National Park.

So Blake moved on to mall security at Francis Scott Key Mall. He found himself moving up quickly in rank (although his duties and pay remained the same). When he asked Director of Security Gary Wood about it, he was told that it was because he was reliable and could be trusted.

When Wood retired, Blake became the director and realized why his work ethic had been rewarded. The younger officers couldn’t be trusted to keep working without supervision. They would goof off or flirt with girls. This meant that Blake wound up working long hours to supervise them. “I became director of security, but the work was sun up to sun down, and I couldn’t take it any longer.”

Blake then served one year in security at the Mount before landing a job with Frederick County at Winchester Hall. Not too surprisingly, the politics of the place seeped down, even to his department, until he could no longer tolerate it. He left after ten years. “I gave up the badge and came to the clippers.”

He decided to become a hair stylist because he wanted a job that would allow him to work with the public and give back to them. He attended school to earn his license and became a barber and stylist at Here’s Clyde’s in Thurmont in March 2016.

He explained that three of the women at Here’s Clyde’s he grew up with, and he looks at all of them as if they were his sisters. He also enjoys seeing people walk into the salon that he hasn’t seen for years.

Besides working in security, he was an organist at the Grotto in Emmitsburg for ten years before becoming the music director at the Fort Detrick Post Chapel, which he has done for the past four years. While the security jobs have been work, the music work has been a labor of love.

Blake doesn’t regret any of the jobs he has done because he learned from all of them. Even when the jobs were wearing him down, he stayed happy for the most part. He continues to be happy with a short walk to and from his job and being able to spend time with friends, new and old.

Morris Blake is shown at Here’s Clyde’s in Thurmont, where he works as a  barber and hair stylist.


Mayor John Kinnaird

With summer just around the corner, you should be thinking about visiting the Thurmont Main Street Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, beginning June 3. There is always a great selection of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, eggs, baked goods, hand-crafted items, and other treats! Live entertainment will be returning this year, with local talent providing background music for the market. The market is located in the Municipal Parking lot on South Center Street and is open each Saturday morning, 9:00 a.m.-noon. If you want to grow your own vegetables and fruit, why not sign up for a spot at the Community Garden! The Thurmont Green Team sponsors the Community Garden, and spaces are still available. Just stop at the Town office and pick up an application. The sites are already tilled and are awaiting your green thumb.

School will be out soon, and our kids will out and about walking, bicycling, skate boarding, and playing. As you drive on our streets, be aware of children and watch out for them. Kids do not always look both ways before crossing the street, and they can run out in front of vehicles while playing. Be sure to drive with extra caution and help insure our children’s safety.

I have had some residents contact me about scam phone calls from people claiming to be with the Town of Thurmont. If you get one of these calls after regular business hours (8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.) or on a Saturday or Sunday, please be aware that it is most likely a scam. If you are not sure, just ask the person for their name and tell them you will call them back at the Town office at 301-271-7313. We are also seeing an increase in the number of door-to-door sales people with the nice weather. Anyone going door-to-door, selling or soliciting, are required to register with the Thurmont Police Department and should have an identification badge showing they are registered. If you are approached by someone and they cannot provide proof of registration, ask them to move on.

Residents may have noticed recent street work, with the paving of Lombard Street, East Street, and Shipley Avenue. These projects are part of our ongoing efforts to improve our streets. There are many more projects in the works that will be moving forward this year and in the future. As part of our improvement plans, we are currently bidding paving for the Eyler Road Park and the Trolley Trail, both of these projects will improve access to these well-used areas. Frederick County has committed to help us in a joint sidewalk project for Moser Road. This will add improved pedestrian access to both the Frederick County Regional Library and the Trolley Trail.

The Board of Commissioners has just finished work on the 2017-2018 Budget, and I am happy to report that we have based the coming budget on the Constant Yield Tax Rate. As in the past several years, the Constant Yield Tax Rate will ensure that our residents will not see an increase in the property tax rate. I want to thank the residents that provided input in the budget process, our financial staff, department heads, and the Board of Commissioners, for working together in the budget writing process.

As always I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at [email protected].


 Mayor Don Briggs

It has been written that “Hope springs eternal.” For our family, this spring is full of realization of hope. We have a grandson graduating from Mount St. Mary’s University; a granddaughter from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut; a granddaughter moving on to Catoctin High School from Mother Seton; and a grandson in Colorado graduating from Bishop Mullen High School in Denver, on his way to Colorado State University to study and play football. The two college graduating “grand-students” are graduates of Catoctin High School. It’s more than a nudge, this passing of the baton, and we love it.

On June 1, I will be attending the Catoctin High School Commencement exercise at Mount St. Mary’s. Congratulations to the graduating students, their families, and the faculty.

Recently, I attended the “Every day is Earth Day” chorus and band performances directed by Cheryl Carney and Allison Smetana, respectively. One of the songs was a direct hit to the heart: “Don’t Forget the Little Children.” Let’s not. Everything the town does is focused on our children and grandchildren: revitalization, water preservation, recycling, solar, LED lights, and grants for redoing downtown properties. “Use what we need, but save something for future generations” is more than a request, it is a plea from our children.

Before the close of schools for the summer, fourth graders from Mother Seton School and Emmitsburg Elementary School will be visiting the town office. Very exciting!

In May, the town, in conjunction with the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association (EBPA), hosted a breakfast for town businesses and other community partners as a simple thank you for what they do in service to the community. A rollout of a family drug-awareness program was also part of the breakfast. The program is tied in with the “Pool Party in the Park” in the Community Park, on Friday, June 16, from 6:00-8:00 p.m.—lots of fun, with a DJ, dancing, free hot dogs, tea, and more (for at least the first 150 people).

Make Saturday, June 24, a day to visit Emmitsburg, with the Community Heritage Day Festival 2017, starting with the traditional breakfast at Vigilant Hose fire hall at 6:30 a.m. and followed later that morning with the Lions Club BBQ chicken dinners (served in the hub of the festivities in Community Park). IMPORTANT: This year, the parade along West Main Street and down South Seton Avenue will start at 5:00 p.m. and the Memorial Program at 6:00 p.m. New this year is the evening horse-drawn carriage tour of Emmitsburg, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by Michael Pryor Productions and Stewart Chapman, who will provide a musical review of music through the decades, beginning with the 40s; entertainment begins at 7:00 p.m. and runs until 9:30 p.m. There will be crafters and vendors, plenty of children’s activities, bicycling activities (off-road and on-road), exercise path fun, and fireworks. The Lions Club, EBPA, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Christ’s Community Church, and other civic organizations, all work together to provide a day full of fun and activities. The day will end with Independence Day fireworks. Please go to for details on this great day of fun.

June 14 is Flag Day, always a wonderful tribute by our Veterans. This year, the northern County Flag Day observance will be held in Thurmont Memorial Park. The location of the observance is held on an annually rotating basis with Emmitsburg.

In September, Mount St. Mary’s University will hold a Constitution Day celebration, at which I have been invited to read the Preamble of the Constitution at the observance. With the 4th of July coming up, I submit the Preamble for those who may have forgotten, including me: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Amen. From that, we must pull together in common defense against the insidious attack of drugs.

Hoping you enjoy a wonderful June in Northern Frederick County.