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Greetings From The Booth!

A bit late this week, as I spent yesterday agonizing over WVU’s early exit from March Madness. The Mounties’ 67-65 loss to Maryland was no upset, by any stretch (Maryland was actually the higher seed), but kicked off a day of bracket-bustin’ that saw me go 9-7 in yesterday’s games–by far my worst performance in a long, long time. BTW, who had Virginia losing in 2018 UMBC fashion to Furman? Furman?!? I’m hoping to recover somewhat today, although at the time of this writing, the Kennesaw State Owls (who? see what I did there?) are leading perennial tournament team Xavier by 13.  Well, at least my Final Four is still intact.

Today is the perfect storm of St. Patrick’s Day and NCAA Basketball, so be responsible and remember to hand those keys to a Designated Leprechaun!

Staying within our b-ball theme this week, were you aware that the Winchester area had a pro basketball team? I have to admit that I did not, until Kenny Gordon, a friend and longtime co-worker at the Shenandoah University basketball scorer’s table, texted me recently to see if I would be interested in doing the public address announcing for the Virginia Valley Vipers.

The expansion Vipers are part of the Indianapolis-based TBL, which stands for “The Basketball League,” and kicked off their season earlier this month. They will play a 24-game schedule in the league’s Eastern Division, against teams from Reading, Syracuse, Atlantic City, York, and the Tri-State. The Vipers’ home games are played at the spacious Wilkins Center at SU.

The team is owned by TMOs (Team Market Owners) Rodney, Tina, and Rze Culbreath. Rze is part of the local flavor of the Vipers, having played some of his basketball at Millbrook High. He is not only an owner, but on the active roster of the Vipers as a guard, and has also played professionally in Europe. Other players include former Hornet Chris Chaney. The team’s Head Coach, Andrew Oates, also has local roots, having served as Assistant Coach at both Clarke County High School and at Shenandoah.

The basketball is high-level, but so is the team’s mission of community outreach. Visit the Vipers’ website and you will see their mission statement displayed prominently displayed on the home page: “…to strengthen our community through positive, family-friendly entertainment and provide athletes with the financial opportunity to continue their passion while giving back to the community.” To that end, players are vetted with background checks and social media activity to insure that they represent the team and the community in a positive way. In addition, players will be part of the Top Of Virginia Young Professionals group, and the team will partner with Winchester CCAP.

So, if you can pull yourself away from the NCAA Tournament this weekend, check out a Vipers game over at Wilkins on March 18th against the Reading Rebels and/or March 19th against the Tri-State Admirals. And don’t forget to wear your purple.

Until the next visit from The Booth…enjoy the Madness, and GO VIPERS.