Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jeff Shirk is New Head Coach of Men's Lacrosse

CHESTERTOWN, MD – Washington College Athletic Director Dr. Bryan Matthews has announced the hiring of Jeff Shirk as the school's 11th head men's lacrosse coach. Shirk comes to Chestertown from Division I Virginia Military Institute (VMI), where he served as head coach for the past four years.

"We are thrilled to welcome Jeff Shirk as our new head coach," said Dr. Matthews. "Coach Shirk's enthusiasm for this position and extensive coaching background at VMI, Naval Academy Preparatory School, Brown, and Maryland, make him the ideal person to lead our storied program into a new era."

Washington College President Mitchell Reiss, who assumed his new position July 1, said he is pleased to begin his time at Washington College in concert with Coach Jeff Shirk. “Coach Shirk shares my adherence to the concept of true student-athletes,” said Dr. Reiss. I have the utmost confidence that Coach Shirk will have a positive impact on the young men in his program — not only on the field but, more importantly, in the classroom and in life."

Shortly after his hire, Shirk thanked VMI Superintendent Gen. J.H. Binford Peay, Athletic Director Donny White, and the entire VMI lacrosse family for his experience there. "Being able to coach at VMI was both an honor and a privilege. My wife and I have grown fond of Lexington and will miss our colleagues and friends dearly."

"I could not be more excited about the opportunity that lies ahead,” he continued. “From the moment I drove into Chestertown and met all of the wonderful people at Washington College, I knew this was the place I wanted to coach and raise my family. The future is bright and I am ready to do my part in helping continue the great tradition of lacrosse excellence at Washington College."

In just his second season at VMI, Shirk guided the Keydets to their first-ever appearance in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament, their first-ever win in a conference tournament game, and their first-ever appearance in a conference championship game. In 2010, Shirk coached Tim Moran, whose All-America honorable mention made him the first player in VMI history to earn the national recognition.

In addition to his four years at VMI, Shirk boasts an impressive lacrosse coaching and playing background. He played four years as a short-stick defensive midfielder at the University of Maryland, where he served as team captain his senior year. He played for the Terrapins' 1998 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship Team and played in the 1997 and 1998 NCAA Division I National Championship Games. Shirk played professional lacrosse in the National Lacrosse League for three seasons before focusing exclusively on coaching.

Shirk's coaching experience began during the 2000-01 academic year, when he served as an undergraduate assistant coach. Following his graduation that spring, he landed his first full-time coaching position as the head coach at Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS) in Rhode Island. Shirk guided NAPS to an impressive 22-11 record over three seasons and helped develop five future Navy All-Americans. While there, he also served as associate director of athletics and held the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade) in the U.S. Navy.

Shirk returned to his alma mater for the 2004-05 academic year, serving as the Terps' second assistant coach as Maryland won the ACC Championship and advanced to the NCAA Division I National Semifinals. The following year, Shirk moved on to Brown University and served as the Bears' defensive coordinator for one season before landing the head coaching position at VMI.
A native of Mountain Lakes, N.J., the 32-year-old Shirk earned his B.S. in Elementary Education from Maryland in 2001. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have two daughters, Emily and Anna.

The Washington College men's lacrosse team has made 30 NCAA and USILA Tournament appearances. The Shoremen, who are 594-329-1 all-time, won the 1998 NCAA Division III National Championship and the 1954 USILA Laurie Cox Division Co-National Championship. Washington College men's lacrosse players have earned All-America honors 226 times. The 2011 season will be the 70th season of varsity men's lacrosse at Washington College. The College first fielded a varsity men's lacrosse program from 1929 until 1934 and revived the sport for the 1948 season.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

C.V. Starr Center Announces Summer Series of Free Riverfront Concerts

CHESTERTOWN, MD— The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is launching a new series of free outdoor concerts to be held weekday evenings on the riverfront lawn of the Custom House. The Washington College Riverfront Concert Series will kick off Tuesday, July 27 with singer-songwriter Bob Zentz and continue August 17 with the guitar duo of Mac Walter and John Cronin.
Both events will begin at 6:30 p.m. behind the Custom House, corner of High and Water streets in downtown Chestertown. Drinks and light refreshments will be provided; attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets or lawn chairs. In case of inclement weather, the concerts will take place in The Egg, a performance space in Hodson Hall Commons on the main Washington College campus.
Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the Starr Center, hopes to expand the series in future summers. “We see this as a way to bring together two things we love to do,” he says. “First, celebrate the rich heritage of this region, and second, create a program that the entire community can learn from and enjoy. Plus, when you combine great music, a beautiful waterfront, and a warm summer night, it's pretty hard to go wrong.”
The series builds on the Starr Center’s longstanding interest in the musical traditions of the Chesapeake Bay and its rich heritage of storytelling. Hosting the concerts will be the Center’s program manager Michael Buckley, whose weekly radio program on Annapolis based WRNR, 103.1 FM (Sundays, 7 to 10 a.m.) includes the widely acclaimed interview series "Voices of the Chesapeake Bay."
The performer opening the Riverfront Concert Series on July 27, Bob Zentz, is a veteran musician and storyteller whose Chesapeake Bay songs have become classics in the region. He has been a featured artist at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Scottish National Folk Festival, and the Australian National Folk Festival, and a guest on the popular public-radio program “A Prairie Home Companion.” He also has been a crew member and performer aboard Pete Seeger’s Hudson River sloop Clearwater.
Zentz’s concerts are a showcase for a wide range of traditional (and seldom-heard) instruments, such as the concertina, the hurdy gurdy, and the autoharp. With a strong sense of history, humanity and humor, his repertoire ranges from traditional Celtic tunes and ballads to sea chanteys, from tales of old timers to poetry set to music. He has recorded seven albums, including Horizons, released earlier this year. For more, visit
When the series continues on Tuesday, August 17, guitarists Mac Walter and John Cronin will bring their impressive fingerwork and gorgeous harmonies to Chestertown. The two musicians, who are cousins, started making music together as teenagers, playing at family gatherings and developing a mutual interest in folk music. Each later established an impressive career on his own.
A three-time winner of the Washington Area Music Awards, Mac Walter developed his unique fingerstyle approach to folk, rock, blues, jazz, and country at the Charlie Byrd Studio in Bethesda, MD. Heavily influenced by folk luminaries such as Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt, Dave Van Ronk, Dick Rosmini, and his own guitar mentor, Raun MacKinnon Burnham, he recorded three CDs with Deanna Bogart and also played with Danny Gatton and Roy Buchanon.
John Cronin settled in British Columbia and was drawn to the Western cowboy flavor of the local music. This led to a seven-year stint with Canadian musical icon Ian Tyson, playing to sold out concerts all over Canada and the US. He also toured with renowned fiddle player Vassar Clements.
Together, Walter and Cronin provided back-up guitar and vocals on Chesapeake Bay folk icon Tom Wisner’s last album, Follow on the Water. They have created two albums together: Cousins, released in 2003, and Second Cousins, released in 2006. For more on the duo, visit
Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience explores our nation’s history—and particularly the legacy of its Founding era—in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. It also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students. Its guiding principle is that now more than ever, a wider understanding of our shared past is fundamental to the continuing success of America’s democratic experiment. For more information on the Center, visit

Photo: Musician and storyteller Bob Zentz