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Man playing soccer (image via Emilio Garcia/Unsplash)

It’s World Cup season and it’s all anyone seems to be talking about this week.

The major sporting event — built on the backs of brutal working conditions for migrant workers — is heading into the semifinals after some tense games last week.

The opening game has 7.2 million viewers in the United States, with an estimated average 227.7 million viewers of the games worldwide every day.

Have you been watching the games? Did you tune in for a single specific game or team, or have you mostly opted out?

Image via Emilio Garcia/Unsplash

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Field lighting proposal at Hammond Middle School (image via City of Alexandria)

The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a plan to install lights on a handful of athletic fields, but city leaders also acknowledged neighbor concerns about the project.

The plan is to eventually install new outdoor lighting at five fields around the city, with those lights phased in as the budget and construction timetables allow. Three of the fields could be illuminated as early as FY2023:

  • Francis C Hammond Middle School, 4646 Seminary Road
  • George Washington Middle School, 1005 Mt. Vernon Avenue
  • Jefferson Houston K-8 School, 1501 Cameron Street

The other two, Patrick Henry K-8 School and Recreation Center (4643 and 4653 Taney Avenue) and Eugene Simpson Stadium Park (426 East Monroe Avenue), can’t be illuminated until 2024 and 2025 respectively. The aim of the lights is to extend the usable hours of some of the city’s more overcrowded fields.

The tone of the City Council meeting on Saturday was more cooperative than other debated city topics. While some civic discussions in Alexandria have been combative in the past, local resident organizations were quick to point out areas of agreement with local sports organizations and outline areas for compromise. The meeting featured a range of supporters of the lights and some nearby residents against the lights, but a sizable group of residents who supported the lights but had specific concerns about the lights exacerbating ongoing issues at the fields.

“Varsity Park members are not opposed to lights on the fields, including at Hammond Middle School,” said Bill Rossello, President of the Seminary Hill Association, “but we have significant concerns we feel have not been heard heretofore. All we’ve gotten back is indirectly communicated staff-splaining.”

Rossello said the Hammond field is frequently used by non-permitted adult groups throughout the year. Rossello echoed concerns shared from other neighbors who said their issues lie more in the handling of activities on the field than the lights themselves.

“In warm-weather months, these groups often use the field until dark,” Rossello said. “These groups are known to make a party out of a soccer match, consuming copious amounts of beer, playing music from very loud speakers, setting up food trucks at the site, and relieving themselves on resident properties across the street.”

Rossello said the Seminary Hill Association is asking for:

  • Use limited to permitted youth sports groups
  • If activity is not permitted, the lights are left off
  • Bathrooms installed on-site
  • Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities staff monitoring field use
  • Trash picked up early each day
  • Rental to adult groups prohibited

Ultimately, the City Council unanimously approved the lights, but several members of the Council said the discussion on Saturday was only the beginning of addressing issues related to use of the fields.

At a previous meeting, Planning Commissioners raised concerns that it can be difficult for someone facing an issue with one of the fields to get a clear answer on who to address those concerns to. One of the recurring items discussed was the need to have a phone number at each site so either local residents or those using the fields have a clear point of contact for issues related to field use.

“I appreciate these questions concerning management and monitoring of fields,” said Vice Mayor Amy Jackson. “As these issues arise what I want to get back to is… making sure the lights don’t continue to be on when they don’t need to be on.”

Jackson also said there have been games on lighted fields where the lights shut off and it wasn’t clear who to contact to get those turned back on.

However, I also want to bring up the flip side of the lights: sometimes those lights will go off in the middle of a game and I’ve been there when it happens,” Jackson said. “It’s disconcerting to players and parents, and there’s no one who can get ahold of anyone to turn on the lights. Again, that phone number comes in really handy. Broken hearts are left on the field if the lights are off and the game’s not over.”

Mayor Justin Wilson said discussion about field use will continue post-approval as the project is implemented.

“I appreciate everyone who added insights into this conversation,” Wilson said. “We’re working to address the concerns we heard and I think as we go forward we’ll work to address any concerns that arise.”

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Field lighting proposal at Hammond Middle School (image via City of Alexandria)

Updated 5:45 p.m. — Field lighting supporters told ALXnow the interests of neighbors and soccer players aren’t necessarily competing and share some overlapping concerns management of the fields.

Earlier: A plan to bring new lights to athletic fields around Alexandria saw a clash of supporters — who say the lights are necessary for extending play hours — against homeowners concerned about the ramifications of new late-night activity next door.

Last week, the Planning Commission voted unanimously in favor of the plan for new lights, which will now go to the City Council on Saturday, Nov. 12.

The plan is to eventually install new outdoor lighting at five fields around the city, with those lights phased in as the budget and construction timetables allow. Three of the fields could be lighted as early as FY2023:

  • Francis C Hammond Middle School, 4646 Seminary Road
  • George Washington Middle School, 1005 Mt. Vernon Avenue
  • Jefferson Houston K-8 School, 1501 Cameron Street

The other two, Patrick Henry K-8 School and Recreation Center (4643 and 4653 Taney Avenue) and Eugene Simpson Stadium Park (426 East Monroe Avenue), can’t be lighted until 2024 and 2025 respectively. The aim of the lights is to extend the usable hours of some of the city’s more overcrowded fields.

There were around 20 speakers at the Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 1, with a fairly even split between parents and local soccer enthusiasts with the Alexandria Soccer Association (ASA) sharing their support for the lights and neighbors concerned that existing issues like littering and public urination will only get worse with the lights creating extended hours.

Those in favor of the lights said they will help relieve some of the problems around local teams fighting for a handful of evening spots.

“[The lights] provide more access for healthy places to play, thus positively impacting the community,” said Jim Hogan, a coach with the ASA. “As one of 200 volunteer coaches who supported over 180 teams this fall, location and times for mid-week practice are very hard for working parents when they are 4, 4:30, or 5 p.m. start times. Evening times are so popular we cannot provide every team and program with a 6 p.m. start time.”

Hogan said there are parents who want to help volunteer on local teams, but can’t because the practice times are too early.

Terry Androus, a manager with the ASA, said the lights are a matter of boosting public safety for local kids.

“I support the addition of lights to all of the fields being suggested,” Androus said. “Youth sports is a critical component of raising healthy and productive citizens. Kids will be somewhere after dark; it’s better to have them in a structured environment on a field rather than wandering around places where trouble may find them. Let’s provide a safe place to play after dark: it just makes sense.”

But neighbors abutting the fields where lighting is proposed said there are unresolved issues in the city’s plans. Carter Flemming, President of the Seminary Hill Association, said neighbors currently experience loud music, trash, and other nuisances from adults playing on nearby fields and are concerned that adding more hours will only make the problems worse.

“Hammond Middle School is in our boundaries and we are quite familiar with the issues surrounding this field, even without lights,” Flemming said. “while I know [Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities] asserts approval tonight is only about putting up lights, I think it’s incumbent upon you to address the ramifications of such lights. To say this [special use permit] is only about constructing some 60-foot tall light poles is to ignore the reality of what those light poles will mean to surrounding residents.”

Flemming pointed to a memo from Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities (RPCA) in October that acknowledged that there are important issues raised by neighbors near the Hammond Middle School, but said those are operational issues and not a result of field lighting.

“And yet, RPCA is asking to add lights without having any plans to address those known issues,” Flemming said. “No developer could come before PC and say ‘I have submitted a [special use permit] to build four walls, 60 feet high, but I do not have to address any other issues that might arise from my project.'”

Neighbors shared testimony at the meeting of trash left littered around fields after soccer games, sharing photos of debris-strewn sidelines despite assurances from city staff that the fields were checked and cleaned before every school day.

Others said that, during and after games, players at the fields use nearby yards and streets as public urinals. Jack Browand, division chief of Parks and Cultural Activities, acknowledged that while two of the fields are slated to get publicly accessible restrooms, the others do not have them.

“Restrooms have been a hot topic,” Browand said. “As part of capital improvement, we do assess where restroom use could be. Those are things that we’re looking at as we move forward and do improvements.”

Flemming and other neighbors said they would support the use of lights on the fields for youth sports only.

“Adult recreation creates an entirely different situation from youth sports and should be directed to [other fields] that do not abut residents,” Flemming said.

Another concern, one shared by some on the Planning Commission, was that the several organizations all connected to overseeing the fields could make it more difficult for residents to find any one department to connect to and hold responsible for maintenance issues.

After the public comment, Browand clarified that the fields would only but lit for pre-arranged sporting events scheduled by permit, giving the city some level of control over who plays on the fields and who is responsible if trash is left behind.

Planning Commissioner David Brown drilled down on issues of accountability for the fields, saying he sympathized with concerns that — when issues do occur on the fields — residents will find city departments all pointing the finger at each other.

“As I understand it, the city is responsible for trash collection,” Brown said. “The Recreation and Parks folks are responsible for monitoring use and making sure the lights are turned off. During the school day, Alexandria City Public Schools is responsible for monitoring the facilities, possibly with the assistance of the police. This is a lot of cooks in this stew. What I would like is reassurance that at least insofar as this process has been ongoing with a number of fields for quite some time: is it operating smoothly so that when something goes wrong, it is promptly fixed?”

Despite raising these concerns, Brown said that ultimately the Planning Commission vote is not about whether or not the lights are a good idea or whether the city is doing a good job of managing the parks currently: only whether the project meets the zoning requirements.

Others on the Commission said they recognized neighbor complaints, but saw the lights as achieving a greater good.

“While I’m sensitive to what sounds like adults being irresponsible neighbors, I think it’s important to not discount the need to provide for adult recreational activity,” said Planning Commissioner Melissa McMahon. “Adults tend to work more than they should and tend to have a lot of stress. We might not focus as much as adults on growing our own social skills and managing to get along with one another the way we teach our children those skills, and team sports are one of our best tools for that.”

Ultimately, the Planning Commission voted 6-0 in favor of the lights.

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There are a number of ways to volunteer in Alexandria this fall.

Sports enthusiasts can become volunteer sport coaches, and history lovers can become volunteer tour guides.

There are also a number of tutoring and mentoring positions available, in addition to available food distributor and donation sorting positions.

“We need hundreds of people per week,” Volunteer Alexandria Executive Director Marion Brunken told ALXnow. “More people are in need now than ever.”

Here’s a list of Volunteer Alexandria’s new and upcoming opportunities.

  • Teach Kids to Read — “Wright to Read is a literacy tutoring-mentoring program that works to match volunteer tutor-mentors with Alexandria City Public School students who need extra support in their literacy skills. Our goal is not only to help give this child support along their reading journey (including access to books, resources, and a larger reading community), but also a mentor through elementary school and beyond.”
  • Distribute Food With ALIVE! — “Volunteers are needed to assist with multiple programs relating to their Food Program, ALIVE! House, and Alexandria Eviction Prevention Partnership Program will distribute food at Mobile Pop-ups and Truck to Trunk events, etc.”
  • More opportunities at ALIVE! — The nonprofit also needs drivers, a furniture moving attendant, and warehouse volunteers.
  • Theater group needs support — Momentum Collective is looking for a new board member, a costume designer and a set builder.
  • Youth Sport Coaches — Preside over team activities including all scheduled practices and games. Adhere to RPCA policies, rules and objectives Responsible for maintaining care of all RPCA Sports equipment. Lead by example among team parents to support the responsibilities of the referee and league leadership. Coach an assigned group of children and focus on skill development, safety, fair, play, sportsmanship and fun.”
  • 4-H Youth Development Club Volunteers — “We are currently looking for volunteers that would like to build clubs on any topic of interest, such as, dogs, sewing, robotics, or sports.”
  • Food Rescuer — “Food rescuers pick up surplus food from food donors in Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia (businesses, restaurants and grocers) and deliver it directly to receiving agencies (community kitchens, food pantries, etc.) that feed our hungry neighbors. In your own vehicle and on your own time, it usually takes only 30 to 60 minutes to complete this incredibly rewarding and essential mission. Get started on the website and app to see the complete schedule of local food rescue opportunities.”
  • Arise outreach volunteer — “ARISE is a new guaranteed income pilot program that plans to give $500 a month to 170 City of Alexandria residents for two years. A research team will evaluate the ARISE program outcomes which will inform future efforts and policy decisions.”
  • Sexual Assault Center Hotline Advocate — “Volunteers staff the 24-hour hotline on evenings and weekends. Volunteers provide accompaniment, emotional support, crisis intervention, advocacy, and referrals to empower survivors of sexual violence in person at the hospital/police department or over the phone. Volunteers must attend a 40-hour training.”
  • Shelter Supervisors with Alexandria Domestic Violence Program — “As a program that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, volunteers play a key role in providing services to those affected by domestic violence. Volunteers with our program interact personally with individuals in need-an opportunity that many find extremely fulfilling.”
  • Alexandria Library opportunities — The Alexandria Library needs a volunteer to run a games program for seniors, a volunteer with the Trash Trekkers program, a Knit Night volunteer, a computer class volunteer, and gardening support.
  • Tour Guide at Carlyle House Historic Park — “Looking for a fun and relaxing volunteer opportunity? Carlyle House Historic Park, a colonial house museum in Old Town Alexandria, seeks volunteer docents to give public tours of this historic building. Carlyle House, built in 1753, interprets the home and family of John Carlyle, a merchant and town founder.”
  • Sixth Annual Spooky Science Expo — “The Watergate at Landmark Youth Committee will be holding its sixth annual science event (Spooky Mad Science Expo) for kids and teens (October 15). The event will celebrate science and Halloween… As in every year, we are looking for volunteers to help us plan and run the event.”
  • Casa Chirilagua Volunteers — Casa Chirilagua is looking for one-on-one mentoring, their kids club, a volunteer to oversee the teen study hall, help with the high school program, a volunteer for teen bible study, and assistance with their middle school program.
  • Dog adoption event needs volunteers — “Lucky Dog Animal Rescue has an adoption event the FIRST Sunday of every month at the Potomac Yard PetSmart – 3351 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22305. Come spend the afternoon with a Lucky Dog!”
  • Torpedo Factory Gallery Guide — “Gallery Guides must feel comfortable interacting with the public about the work at the exhibition with potentially sensitive content and handling artwork sale inquiries. Gallery Guides must be at least 18 years of age or older.”
  • Food and grocery volunteer — “For over 15+ years, as part of its Outreach Ministry, the Meade Memorial Episcopal Church has been committed to the Emergency Food Assistance Ministry, to help transform our community, our neighbors, and ourselves. The church provides lunches to residents from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. We need help to setup tables and distribute lunches every weekday, except on certain holidays. We are asking all volunteers to arrive at 11: 15 a.m.”
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Noah Lyles comes home to Alexandria City High School, Tuesday, September 7, 2021. (Via Elijah Walter Griffin, Sr.)

Alexandrian Olympic medalist Noah Lyles and his brother Josephus are among the 24 athletes set to be inducted into Alexandria City Public Schools’ (ACPS) Athletic Hall of Fame this weekend.

The Alexandria City School Board is scheduled to host the 2022 Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8. The ceremony will be held at Alexandria City High School (3330 King Street).

The full list of inductees — announced back in May — includes educator and basketball player Naomi L. Brooks (for whom the school is named) and Shirley Marshall-Lee, the world’s first African American female scuba diver.

The ceremony will also honor the 1945 and 1977 High School Boys Basketball Teams.

The full list of honorees from earlier this year:

The 2022 ACPS Athletic Hall of Fame

  • 1945 George Washington High School Boys Basketball Team — State champions
  • 1977 T.C. Williams High School Boys Basketballs Team — State champions
  • DeArcey “Dee” Campbell, George Washington High School Class of 1944, Crew Coach 1975-2005
  • Robert Garda, George Washington High School Class of 1957 — Football, Basketball, Track
  • Joe Hensley, George Washington High School Class of 1944 — Basketball
  • Bobby Jones, George Washington High School Class of 1949 — Track
  • Naomi Lewis-Brooks, Parker-Gray High School Class of 1951 — Basketball
  • Shirley Marshall-Lee, Parker-Gray High School Class of 1956 — Scuba Diving
  • Doug Yates, George Washington High School Class of 1955 — Basketball, Track
  • Fred Borchelt, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1972 — Crew
  • Yolanda Brown, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1994 — Track/Field
  • Lesa Diggs-Moore, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1981 — Track
  • Sherri Funn, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1978 — Track
  • John Johnson, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1973 — Track/ Field
  • Rodney Johnson, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1997 — Football, Track/Field, Track Coach
  • Missy Anne Kilkpatrick, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1991 — Track
  • Kathy James Lorton, T.C. Williams High School Class of 2000 — Cheerleading
  • Josephus Lyles, T.C. Williams High School Class of 2016 — Track/ Field
  • Noah Lyles, T.C. Williams High School Class of 2016 — Track/ Field
  • Marie McKeon Zack, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1983 — Soccer/Field Hockey
  • Barry Mountain, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1979 — Track/Field
  • Stephanie O’Toole Whalen, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1990 — Field Hockey, Basketball, Softball
  • Lydell Scott, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1987 — Football
  • Carl Turner, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1974 — Football, Basketball
  • Ezra Whorley, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1992 — Track/Field, Football
  • Eryk Williamson, T.C. Williams High School Class of 2015 — Soccer
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There are a number of ways to volunteer in Alexandria this fall.

Art lovers can get their fix by volunteering as gallery guides at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, and sports enthusiasts can become volunteer sport coaches. The Carlyle House also needs a volunteer tour guide.

There are also a number of tutoring and mentoring positions available, in addition to available food distributor and donation sorting positions.

“We need hundreds of people per week,” Volunteer Alexandria Executive Director Marion Brunken told ALXnow. “More people are in need now than ever.”

Here’s a list of Volunteer Alexandria’s new and upcoming opportunities.

  • Teach Kids to Read — “Wright to Read is a literacy tutoring-mentoring program that works to match volunteer tutor-mentors with Alexandria City Public School students who need extra support in their literacy skills. Our goal is not only to help give this child support along their reading journey (including access to books, resources, and a larger reading community), but also a mentor through elementary school and beyond.”
  • Distribute Food With ALIVE! — “Volunteers are needed to assist with multiple programs relating to their Food Program, ALIVE! House, and Alexandria Eviction Prevention Partnership Program will distribute food at Mobile Pop-ups and Truck to Trunk events, etc.”
  • More opportunities at ALIVE! — The nonprofit also needs drivers, a furniture moving attendant, and warehouse volunteers.
  • Theater group needs support — Momentum Collective is looking for a new board member, a costume designer and a set builder.
  • Youth Sport Coaches — Preside over team activities including all scheduled practices and games. Adhere to RPCA policies, rules and objectives Responsible for maintaining care of all RPCA Sports equipment. Lead by example among team parents to support the responsibilities of the referee and league leadership. Coach an assigned group of children and focus on skill development, safety, fair, play, sportsmanship and fun.”
  • 4-H Youth Development Club Volunteers — “We are currently looking for volunteers that would like to build clubs on any topic of interest, such as, dogs, sewing, robotics, or sports.”
  • Food Rescuer — “Food rescuers pick up surplus food from food donors in Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia (businesses, restaurants and grocers) and deliver it directly to receiving agencies (community kitchens, food pantries, etc.) that feed our hungry neighbors. In your own vehicle and on your own time, it usually takes only 30 to 60 minutes to complete this incredibly rewarding and essential mission. Get started on the website and app to see the complete schedule of local food rescue opportunities.”
  • Arise outreach volunteer — “ARISE is a new guaranteed income pilot program that plans to give $500 a month to 170 City of Alexandria residents for two years. A research team will evaluate the ARISE program outcomes which will inform future efforts and policy decisions.”
  • Sexual Assault Center Hotline Advocate — “Volunteers staff the 24-hour hotline on evenings and weekends. Volunteers provide accompaniment, emotional support, crisis intervention, advocacy, and referrals to empower survivors of sexual violence in person at the hospital/police department or over the phone. Volunteers must attend a 40-hour training.”
  • Shelter Supervisors with Alexandria Domestic Violence Program — “As a program that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, volunteers play a key role in providing services to those affected by domestic violence. Volunteers with our program interact personally with individuals in need–an opportunity that many find extremely fulfilling.”
  • Alexandria Library opportunities — The Alexandria Library needs a volunteer to run a games program for seniors, a volunteer with the Trash Trekkers program, a Knit Night volunteer, a computer class volunteer, and gardening support.
  • Tour Guide at Carlyle House Historic Park — “Looking for a fun and relaxing volunteer opportunity? Carlyle House Historic Park, a colonial house museum in Old Town Alexandria, seeks volunteer docents to give public tours of this historic building. Carlyle House, built in 1753, interprets the home and family of John Carlyle, a merchant and town founder.”
  • Sixth Annual Spooky Science Expo — “The Watergate at Landmark Youth Committee will be holding its sixth annual science event (Spooky Mad Science Expo) for kids and teens (October 15). The event will celebrate science and Halloween… As in every year, we are looking for volunteers to help us plan and run the event.”
  • Casa Chirilagua Volunteers — Casa Chirilagua is looking for one-on-one mentoring, their kids club, a volunteer to oversee the teen study hall, help with the high school program, a volunteer for teen bible study, and assistance with their middle school program.
  • Dog adoption event needs volunteers — “Lucky Dog Animal Rescue has an adoption event the FIRST Sunday of every month at the Potomac Yard PetSmart – 3351 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22305. Come spend the afternoon with a Lucky Dog!”
  • Torpedo Factory Gallery Guide — “Gallery Guides must feel comfortable interacting with the public about the work at the exhibition with potentially sensitive content and handling artwork sale inquiries. Gallery Guides must be at least 18 years of age or older.”
  • Food and grocery volunteer — “For over 15+ years, as part of its Outreach Ministry, the Meade Memorial Episcopal Church has been committed to the Emergency Food Assistance Ministry, to help transform our community, our neighbors, and ourselves. The church provides lunches to residents from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. We need help to setup tables and distribute lunches every weekday, except on certain holidays. We are asking all volunteers to arrive at 11: 15 a.m.”
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Alexandria City High School Friday Night Lights at Alexandria City High School on September 17, 2021. (Via Elijah Walter Griffin, Sr.)

The final community meeting about a proposal to add lights to multiple athletic fields is coming up later this month.

The City Council has approved funding for lighting of two athletic fields, pending the permit approval process, with other locations open for consideration down the road.

The fields being considered are:

  • Francis C Hammond Middle School, 4646 Seminary Road
  • Patrick Henry K-8 School & Recreation Center, 4643 & 4653 Taney Avenue
  • Jefferson Houston K-8 School, 1501 Cameron Street
  • George Washington Middle School, 1005 Mt. Vernon Avenue
  • Eugene Simpson Stadium Park, 426 East Monroe Avenue

Feedback to the proposal has been mixed, with some saying the lights would add extra hours for fields that are in great demand. Some neighbors at the fields have shared concerns, though, that lights at the field could create noisy activity late into the evenings.

The meeting will be held virtually on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. The project is scheduled to go to the Planning Commission on October 6 and City Council on October 15.

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Hensley Park concept plan (image via City of Alexandria)

Joseph Hensley Park (4200 Eisenhower Avenue) is slated to get some major upgrades to the athletic fields benefitting not only park users, but neighboring car windows.

The park is set to get a ring of 30-foot netting and fencing around the park alongside a renovation of the park. Those plans are headed to the Planning Commission for review on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

According to the staff report:

The applicant proposes to install safety netting and fencing around the three athletic fields at Hensley Park in order to protect adjacent roadways from errant soccer balls, softballs and baseballs, and similar sporting projectiles that typically travel through the air during sports games and practices. The request involves two proposals. The first proposal is to install 20-foot tall netting on the east side of the multi-purpose field, 20-foot tall backstop fencing behind the two softball field home plates, and 20-foot netting along the first and third line for the two softball fields.

The report said the netting and fencing are already covered in the funding for the park renovation.

The staff report said the park is slated to have its three softball diamond fields replaced with two regulation-sized adult softball fields along with the replacement of a synthetic turf multi-purpose field. During that planning, though, it became apparent that heavy vehicle traffic around the site warranted netting higher than the city’s 15-foot height limit.

“Due to Hensley Park’s location near heavy vehicle traffic at its borders, special accommodations are needed to protect traffic from athletic balls that may leave the athletic fields,” the report said. “The proposed SUP application request and updates on the Park’s renovation were shared at the July 21, 2022, Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, with no comments or issues raised.”

The permit application says fencing of up to 30 feet could be required as the project goes through development, though that extra height hasn’t been accounted for in the project budget.

“Staff supports the request to install new safety netting and fencing at the Hensley Recreational Fields, which requires SUP approval given that its height would exceed 15 feet,” the report said. “The proposal includes common recreational accessories found around recreational fields that will reduce the likelihood for damage to adjacent roadways and parking areas due to athletic projectiles.”

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Wanna be like Troy “The Transformer” Isley?

The former Lyles Crouch Traditional Academy troublemaker transformed himself into a champion, and on Thursday (August 25) he returned to his old school to talk about his boxing career and last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

“Troy worked very hard,’ Principal Patricia Zissios told students in an assembly. “Troy had some really difficult times when he was here.”

Isley agreed with his former principal.

“I didn’t know how to keep my mouth closed, so I was always in the office with Dr. Zissios,” he said. “I couldn’t control myself, I was always getting into fights. I was all over the place.”

It was the second time that Isley returned to talk to students at his former elementary school since he joined the U.S. National Team. The 23-year-old middleweight went pro in February, and has a perfect record of seven wins and no losses, with four wins coming by knockout.

Zissious presented Isley with a principal’s award, as well as a championship boxing belt from the school PTA.

Isley trains out of the Alexandria Boxing Club in Charles Houston Recreation Center in Old Town. His next fight is in October in Madison Square Garden in New York City, and says that a title fight is at least two years away.

“I feel like I’m getting more comfortable as a fighter,” Isley said. “I’ve been working on a few things. The pro level is a lot of rounds, and you can figure out another boxer after six or seven rounds and they can figure you out.”

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Soccer practice (photo via Alexandria Soccer Association/Facebook)

As local students head back to school, the Alexandria Soccer Association is launching pre-season practice sessions this week.

The season starts on Tuesday, Sept. 13, but pre-season practices are scheduled to start tomorrow (Tuesday, Aug. 23).

“Ball Mastery participants work on soccer skills in a productive and fun learning environment with professional coaches,” the local sports league said on its website.

The program is open to PreK-2nd grade students.

“Pre-season Ball Mastery is an accelerated season to prepare kids for the kickoff of the Rec League,” the website said. “Open to PreK-2nd graders. In-season Ball Mastery provides an extra practice per week for PreK-2nd graders who are interested in getting extra touches on the ball.”

Registration is $135 per player.

A separate program, the Alexandria Growth Program (AGP), is aimed at students from 3rd-6th grade.

“The Alexandria Growth Program (AGP) bridges the experience between the Recreational League and Academy programs for 3rd-6th graders,” the website said. “The AGP is for players interested in trying out for the Academy in the future OR for kids looking for an extra practice + game per week in a professional environment. AGP focuses on individual and small group development drills to increase kids’ technical skills and understanding of the game.”

The AGP program has sessions that run from $180 per play to $480.

Photo via Alexandria Soccer Association/Facebook

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