The Birds Nest

University of Maryland Dominates All Things Lacrosse

And other top news from local sports this week.

 Maryland wins, and she says yes!
It had been 42 years since the Maryland men’s lacrosse team won a national championship, so when this group of 50 18- to 22-year-olds finally did it with a 9-6 win over Ohio State on Memorial Day Monday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, you can imagine the cathartic celebration that ensued. Hugs, sure. A dogpile, yes. During a TV interview, a dazed Terps coach John Tillman, who had led the team to five title games in the previous seven seasons, handed the walnut-and-bronze NCAA championship trophy back to his players after they gave it to him. 

“This is for you,” he said, then later told the media he might have to make good on a bet made with two of his senior leaders, Matt Rambo and Colin Heacock (Boys’ Latin): That their coach would get a tattoo if they won. “It’s going to be small,” the former Navy assistant coach said, maybe on the bottom of his foot. There was even a marriage proposal on the field. Living up to his own promise to coaches and players, team trainer Anthony Benyarko popped the question to his girlfriend. And she said yes. So it goes when you end a four-decades-long drought and put the University of Maryland, always at the center of the college lacrosse world, back on top of it.

A day earlier in the same stadium, the Terp women beat Boston College to win the program’s 13th NCAA title, and third in the last four years. Oh yeah, Salisbury won its second straight (and 12th overall) Division III men’s championship, too. And last night in Washington, D.C., Rambo and Maryland’s Zoe Stukenberg (Marriotts Ridge) won the Tewaaraton Award, given to the best men’s and women’s players in in the game. Like we’ve thought all along, that famous line from Wedding Crashers should have been, “Crabcakes and lacrosse—that’s what Maryland does!”

Remembering Frank Deford.
Baltimore born and bred Frank Deford, who some considered the best sports writer of a generation, died Sunday at his home in Key West, Florida. He was 78, and leaves behind his wife, Carol, two adult children, and a distinguished catalogue of work produced as a longtime Sports Illustrated writer, NPR commentator and correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports.

Born in 1938, Deford attended Calvert and Gilman before graduating from Princeton University. He started his writing career at the now-defunct Evening Sun before beginning an eventual 50-year career at SI, a 32-year run on NPR, and authoring 18 books, nine of them novels. Known for his literary style and conversational voice, Deford’s most famous sports stories include profiles on Bobby Knight (“The Rabbit Hunter”) and one on Hall-of-Fame basketball player Bill Russell, which won the 1999 National Magazine Award. 

“A thousand writers would praise a sports figure and another thousand would rip him, and then Deford would step in and explain him, and his piece would render the others unnecessary,” Sports Illustrated colleague Michael Rosenberg said in one of the many tributes posted about Deford this week. Although his career took him (and us) around the world, Deford never forgot his Baltimore roots. He spoke at the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s central branch as recently as May 2016. 

“Baltimore is a very idiosyncratic city,” he told The Sun in 2002. “It’s very distinct and very unusual in many ways. For a writer, that’s very good. It gives you a lot of material. I think it made me more aware, even if I didn’t use all the material from Baltimore. I think if you grow up in a bland place, maybe you don’t have as good an eye.”

Cats, dogs, and (thankfully) a few wins.
Let’s face it. The last few weeks haven’t been the best stretch of the season for the Orioles, who, before winning two of three against the Yankees and beating Boston Thursday night at Camden Yards, had dropped 13 of their previous 16 games. The O’s are now in third place in the AL East. They seem to be a different team since closer Zach Britton headed to the disabled list. But, if there’s one thing that can brighten up a clubhouse, it happened this week when Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and company sat down with their animals to shoot the team’s annual pet calendar to benefit the BARCS Animal Shelter. The Oriole Bird’s pets’ are apparently cats . . . 

Baltimore’s first-ever national chess champion honored at City Hall
Cahree Myrick, a 12-year-old who attends Roland Park middle school, recently became the city’s first-ever national individual youth chess champion at the U.S. Chess Federation SuperNationals in Nashville. From a field of 249 players, the seventh-grader emerged as the best of anyone from kindergarten through eighth grade. Mayor Catharine Pugh honored him, and his Baltimore Kids Chess League teammates, on Wednesday at City Hall. 

“The city of Baltimore wants you to know we are really proud of your accomplishments,” Pugh told Myrick, according to The Sun. Way to go, kid. He also plays at a barbershop in Barclay, too, and wants to earn a master’s degree at Stanford.