College Names Sophie Kerr Finalists


Five Washington College seniors were named on May 15 as finalists for the 2017 Sophie Kerr Prize, the nation’s largest undergraduate literary award. The prize, now in its 50th anniversary year, is worth $65,768.

Sophie Kerr Prize finalists, from left, James Mitchell, Lillian Starr, Catalina Righter, Allison Bellmire and Ryan Manning.

All five will read from their work at an event this Friday, where poet Elizabeth Spires will announce the winner.

Reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of a Washington College education, the finalists are majors in English, chemistry, American studies, and political science, and several minored in creative writing. They represent honors societies and organizations including Phi Beta Kappa and the Cater Society of Junior Fellows, and several work in a variety of college publications including the student newspaper, The Elm, and the student review, The Collegian.

“It is always such a joy reading these portfolios. They reflect the literary ethos and emphasis we place on writing that is the heart and soul of this college,” Professor Kathryn Moncrief, Chair of the English department and Sophie Kerr Curator, said. “These students and their outstanding work show their diverse interests and approaches, as well as their shared passion for the written word.”

Moncrief added, “We are fortunate at Washington College to have so many good writers. The college privileges writing – we’re known as a writing college. It’s not just the English Department, it’s writing across the disciplines, and I think the field this year really reflects that. We named five finalists, but I would commend all the portfolios. It was a very difficult decision to narrow it down to five, we have so many good writers.”

The work submitted for the prize ranges across genre and topic, encompassing essays, poetry, non-fiction, journalism, and print projects. “The finalists address politics, loss, travel, history, and social issues including affirmative action and racism. And they do so with burnished lyricism, surprising use of form, and a mature sense of urgency,” said James Hall, Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House. “We’re excited and it becomes very difficult to make final decisions because there’s such good work. It’s exciting to see they’re doing such good work across a range of disciplines and genres.”

The finalists are:

Allison Billmire, an English major with a creative writing minor from Cecilton, Md.,  served as an officer for Sigma Tau Delta and editor for The CollegianThe Elm, the Washington College Writing Center, and others. Her portfolio includes work that focuses on running, travel, and other forms of movements in her poetry, prose, and printed projects. She said she was particularly inspired by a semester abroad in Cork, Ireland, where she studied Irish folklore and mythology, and by a visit to the Dodge poetry festival, “where I was exposed to so many poets. They’ve been the inspiration and the goal to get to.” After graduation, she hopes to find an editorial position and adopt an old, fat cat named Falstaff.

Ryan Manning, an English and chemistry double major and creative writing minor, served variously as president of the Writer’s Union and WIGS (the campus gaming club), is a longtime intern to the Rose O’Neill Literary House, and sometime project manager for the Pegasus (the campus’ online yearbook). He is a member of the Cater Society of Junior Fellows and Phi Beta Kappa. His portfolio includes poetry, an essay on two books by Maggie Nelson, one of his favorite authors, and fiction fragments that interrogate and unfold private, emotional moments, examining the intersection of feeling and rhetoric. Other favorite writers include Patrick Rothfuss and Mark Helprin. He lives in the Chestertown area with his mother and younger brother and is pursuing a career in editing and publications design.

James P. Mitchell, a 21-year-old American Studies major and political science minor from Lititz, Pa., led the chapters of the college Republicans and Alexander Hamilton Society, served on the college Honor Board, and worked in the Writing Center and Office of Academic Skills. He is a member of the Cater Society of Junior Fellows, Omicron Delta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha, Phi Alpha Theta, and Pi Lambda Theta. He has worked with the Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture as a student fellow. During his junior year, Mitchell was named the Frederick Douglass Student Fellow by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. During the summer of 2016, he was recognized by the American Enterprise Institute as a student in the summer honors program. His portfolio includes pieces that draw from political science and history and reflect the demands of a plural society and how to encourage diversity. A student dedicated to liberal education, he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 2017, and this fall he will continue his education as a graduate student at the University of Chicago. He said he was especially influenced by writers at the New York Times and Washington Post, notably David Brooks and Charles Krauthammer, and by Jeffrey Toobin at the New Yorker.

Catalina Righter, an English major and creative writing minor from Manchester, Md., submitted a portfolio composed of her journalistic work, a travel essay on a visit to New Orleans, and poetry. She served as editor-in-chief of The Elm and a poetry screener for Cherry Tree. She said she valued her membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Tau Delta, and the Cater Society of Junior Fellows. Righter said she was encouraged to attend Washington College by a high school writing teacher, who knew of the college’s emphasis on writing. Among her favorite writers are poets Anne Carson and Louise Glick and novelists Karen Russell and Tana French.

Lillian Starr is an English major from Cecil County, Maryland. During her time at Washington College, she served as editor-in-chief of the school’s student-run literary magazine The Collegian. Her portfolio “is entirely poems, condensed lyrics,” written over the past two years, centering around intimacy, she said. Among her influences she named Gregory Orr and Kaveh Akbar, “who inspired me to take more formal risks.” She said her leisure reading is primarily poetry and lyrical essays. After graduation, Starr will pursue an MFA in poetry at Florida International University in Miami.

The finalists’ reading and the announcement of the winner begins at 7 p.m. in Hotchkiss Recital Hall in the Gibson Center for the Arts and is free and open to the public. It will also be live-streamed at

Washington College Academy of Lifelong Learning: “George” Award goes to Judie Oberholtzer


At the May Annual Meeting of the Washington College Academy of Lifelong Learning (WC-ALL), Judie Oberholtzer was awarded the George Award, presented annually to an instructor for notable contributions to the organization. Betty Spence, chair of the WC-ALL Advisory Board, and Dick Swanson, WC-ALL curriculum committee chair, made the presentation to Judie with the following citation: “WC-ALL acknowledges with enormous gratitude, the unique and distinctive contributions of Judie Oberholtzer, who in 13 years of service to WC-ALL, taught 21 classes over 15 semesters and introduced the sublime joy of opera to the uninitiated while enhancing the appreciation of those already under its spell.”

Judie Oberholtzer, receives the “George” award from WC-ALL curriculum committee chair Dick Swanson

Judie’s “Magic of the Opera” course is a popular WC-ALL class each fall. Three class sessions are spent studying the libretto and watching DVDs of an opera, preparing class members for a trip to see the opera performed live by the Washington National Opera or Opera Philadelphia. WC-ALL is gearing up for the Fall 2017 semester with course catalogs and registration information due for release in late July. For more information about WC-ALL, please visit the website at

Registration Open for Summer Choral Institute at Washington College 


Encore Chorale, the nation’s largest choral program for older adults, returns to the campus of Washington College in Chestertown MD to present a week-long choral institute for adults over the age of 55 from June 25-29, 2017.  The program draws singers from across the country interested in improving their vocal technique and spending a week in a beautiful setting with fellow music lovers.

The camps are organized by Encore Creativity for Older Adults, a Maryland-based nonprofit. Founder Jeanne Kelly, a former opera singer, founded Encore while working on an NIH-funded study in 2007 to address the mental and physical health benefits of singing for older adults. The minimum age to attend camp is 55. No auditions are required and applicants can participate regardless of experience or ability. Guests can count on an atmosphere that combines rigorous rehearsals under the direction of a professional conductor with socializing and downtime.

Jeanne Kelly, Encore founder, is the artistic director for the program and will share conducting duties this year with Stephen Harouff.  Ms. Kelly has more than 30 years of experience as an operatic performer, voice instructor, choral director and music school director. A graduate of the Peabody Institute, Mr. Harouff currently conducts both the Towson and Columbia Encore Chorales in addition to serving as Music Director for the Towson Presbyterian Church.

Singers will begin their day with a stretch/Yoga class followed by a full choral rehearsal.

After lunch singers will choose from a vocal technique class, music theory training, or free time.  Another choral rehearsal will follow later in the afternoon. Concerts and recitals are offered in the evening for the entertainment of program participants and Chestertown residents. The Choral Institute repertoire will be a challenging mix of music, from classical pieces to American Song Book and Broadway.  Sheet music and a rehearsal CD are provided in advance of the program and all levels of vocal experience are welcomed. Singers may be seated for rehearsal and performance. According to Kelly, anyone can sing, and by putting in the time and rehearsals the result is an astounding performance at the end of the week.

Participants will stay in suite-style residence halls during the program. The program fee is all-inclusive to cover accommodations, all meals, all program materials, and expert instruction from professional program instructors. Participants with mobility issues will be provided golf cart shuttle transportation around the campus grounds. Local area residents are welcome and pay an adjusted commuter fee.

Please contact Encore at 301-261-5747 or email for more information or to receive a brochure by mail.  Register online on at



Breslin Shines As Shoremen Win Three Straight


Junior guard Kevin Breslin drives to the basket in a 77-76 win over Muhlenberg

CHESTERTOWN —  Washington College junior guard Kevin Breslin (Hagerstown, MD/St. Maria Goretti) received PrestoSports/Pride of Maryland Player of the Week and Centennial Conference Player of the Week for the week ending December 5th. Breslin helped lead the Shoremen to a 2-0 week averaging 20 points in the two games and making the game-winning free throws in a one-point win over Muhlenberg.

The PrestoSports/Pride of Maryland Player of the Week Award is granted on a weekly basis on behalf of the Pride of Maryland Tournament Committee.

Each week, each of the nine Pride of Maryland schools (Maryland’s Division III schools with men’s basketball programs) has the ability to nominate one player for their on-court accomplishments over the previous week. The nominations are then voted on by an esteemed panel of media members.

For the week, Breslin averaged 20.0 points, 6.5 assists, and 5.5 rebounds in the two games while committing just three turnovers. He shot 12-for-26 from the field and 15-of-17 from the free-throw line in the two games.

Breslin narrowly missed a triple-double in the Shoremen’s 78-61 win over Haverford last Wednesday with 16 points, nine rebounds, and a career-best nine assists.

In the Shoremen’s 77-76 win over Muhlenberg Saturday, Breslin made a pair of free throws with 5.6 seconds left to lift the Shoremen to a dramatic victory. He finished with 24 points in that game, including 16 in the second half.

Washington College battled Muhlenberg the entire game, as the lead changed hands 14 times, and neither team led by more than 5 points at any time during the second half.

A pair of free-throw shots with 32 seconds left had given the Mules a 76-73 cushion. Breslin missed a three on the Shoremen’s next possession, but an offensive rebound by junior guard Mark DeBoy (Baltimore, MD/Mount St. Joseph) led to a drive and lay-in by Breslin, which trimmed the margin to 76-75. Following a Washington timeout, Muhlenberg was unable to get the ball inbounds before the Mules were whistled for a five-second violation, turning the ball back over to the Shoremen. Breslin was then fouled on a drive to the basket with 5.6 seconds left and sank both free throws to give the Shoremen a 77-76 lead. A long three-pointer by Curry on the Mules’ final possession was off the mark and the Shoremen came away with the win.

Breslin finished with a team-high 24 points for the Shoremen, including a perfect eight-for-eight performance at the charity stripe. The Shoremen committed just six turnovers in the game, while scoring 29 points to take advantage of the 20 turnovers by the Mules to give them the edge in the game. Despite the WC win, Mules out-shot the Shoremen, going 51% from the field, 46% from three-point range, and 68% from the line. Washington was 46%, 14%, and 63%, respectively.

A few days later against Swarthmore, sophomore forward Charlie McShane (West Deptford, NJ/West Deptford) helped the Shoremen to their third win in as many games, scoring 16 of his career-high and game-best 23 points in the first half as Washington College came away with the 74-64 win.

Washington raced out to an 8-0 lead, but the Garnet trimmed the lead to 19-18. The remainder of the first half was back and forth, as the Garnet scored and the Shoremen – namely McShane – kept reclaiming the lead. At the half, Washington was up, 31-28.

The team came out strong in the second half, scoring the first four points to go up, 35-28, but Swarthmore scored the next five points to trim the lead to 35-33. Again, McShane responded with his fifth three-pointer to make it a 38-33 game. The Garnet scored three in a row, but the Shoremen countered with a quick 6-0 run to lead 44-36 with 14:00 to go in the contest, sparking a 16-6 run for the Shoremen to put them up, 54-42.

Swarthmore again threatened, but the Shoremen held on for the win on the road.

In addition to his 23 points, McShane grabbed seven rebounds to tie his career-best and had a game-best and career-high three blocks for WC.

Breslin scored 15 points, nine of which came after halftime.  Bernstein scored all eight of his points from the free throw line in the final 71 seconds and he also set a career-high with six steals.

Washington shot 42% from the floor, 37% from three-point range and 78% from the free throw line, including a perfect 14-for-14 in the final 3:01.  Swarthmore shot 36% from the field, 22% from behind the arc and 67% from the charity stripe. Washington forced 15 turnovers and turned it into 21 points, while Swarthmore turned over Washington 12 times, but could only score 10 points off the miscues.

The men’s basketball team returns to action in a Centennial Conference game at McDaniel on Saturday, at 2:00 p.m.

Shoremen Basketball Stuns Haverford


CHESTERTOWN, MD – The Washington College men’s basketball team snapped a nine-game losing streak to Haverford with a a 78-61 win over the Fords on Wednesday evening. Junior guard/forward Kevin Breslin (Hagerstown, MD/St. Maria Goretti) scored 16 points, had nine assists and tied for tops in rebounds with nine as the Shoremen took their first win over Haverford since 2005. Both teams are now 2-4 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
Haverford jumped out to a 14-8 lead early in the first half, but Washington countered with a 9-2 run of its own, taking a 17-16 lead on a three-pointer by junior guard Sal Schittino (Ellicott City, MD/Loyola Blakefield).  The Fords led 35-31 with exactly one minute to go in the first half, but the Shoremen scored the last five points of the first half to take a 36-35 lead into halftime.

The Fords threatened in the second half, cutting Washington’s lead to 53-51, but the Shoremen again came back with five straight points to extend the lead to 58-51. Schittino scored all five points in the run.  The Fords again narrowed the lead to 61-55 with 4:37 to go on a Sam Permutt free throw before the Shoremen went on a game closing 17-6 run to seal the win.  A triple by Schittino gave WC its first double-digit lead of the night at 66-55 with 3:49 left on the clock.  The Shoremen were 12-for-14 from the free throw line in the final 2:43 to clinch the victory.

Schittino scored a game-high 19 points and tied for tops in the contest with three steals.  Junior forward Adam Naymick (Hanover, PA/Delone Catholic) scored 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the floor.

Permutt led the Fords with 17 points and tied Breslin for the game-high in rebounds with nine.  Ian Goldberg added 13 points and handed out a team-best five assists. Bo Friddell had 10 points and tied Schittino for tops in steals with three.

Washington shot 42% from the floor in the game, 24% from three-point range and 80% from the charity stripe. Haverford had a slight edge from the floor (43%) and from behind the arc (25%), but shot just 60% from the free throw line.  The Shoremen held a 40-37 edge on the boards and had just 16 turnovers while the Fords turned it over 27 times in the game.

Washington outscored Haverford in points off turnovers (30-7), bench points (35-8) and fast-break points (10-2).  Haverford held a slim 30-28 edge in points in the paint and 15-10 advantage in second chance points.

WC’s last win over its conference rival was an 83-81 win on December 6, 2005.

Coach Rob Nugent Talks Sho’men Basketball


The Washington College’s men’s basketball team opens its Centennial Conference schedule tonight at Franklin & Marshall and for the first time, the Shoremen are ranked heading into conference play.

Freshman guard Donovan Womack shoots over a Stevenson player as head coach Rob Nugent watches from the sidelines.

After a surprise third-place finish last season, the Shoremen were voted fifth in the preseason Centennial Conference poll by the coaches and sports information directors.

Those outside Washington College might have a new perspective of the team after last season’s success, but head coach Rob Nugent says the expectations on the team are the same.

“Internally, we always have high expectations, and we always think we could do better,” Nugent said.

The overarching goal, as always, is to win the Centennial Conference. To do that, Nugent said, the team will need to improve its execution on both offense and defense.

“Defense has driven us the last few years, but our shot selection has to be significantly better than a year ago,” he said.

The Shoremen also need players to step into the spots left vacant by last year’s graduating seniors, and Nugent expects junior guards Kevin Breslin, Sal Schittino, and Doug Holcombe and lone senior Dylan Bernstein to fill those roles.

“We have to make sure our guys are focused and working hard individually on the things they need to work on. The talent is there but we need to build our confidence level as a team by continuing to practice well and being smart and aggressive in games,” Nugent said.

A self-described “old school” coach, Nugent looks forward to practice everyday and says he views games as exams, or ways to measure progress, before getting back to work.

“A lot of people only look at wins and losses,” he said, “but if you can say you played pretty well and did what you needed to do, you can be proud of your season. The wins and losses will take care of themselves.”

Last year’s 11-7 finish in conference play earned Nugent the Centennial Conference Coach of the Year award, but he insists it’s an award for the entire team.

“I was honored, but it’s a reflection of our players, not me,” he said. “I’m not a big fan of individual awards, but I am very proud of our guys.”

That pride goes beyond the basketball court.

“Getting a good education and doing well in class is the number one priority. Our student athletes do very well academically, learning to balance classes and practices and making sacrifices for the betterment of the group,” Nugent said.

WC’s basketball program also promotes community service, sending players to visit local middle schools to talk to students and running a co-ed summer basketball camp.

“It’s important for them to learn to give back and to know the impact they can have on those children’s lives. We can give local kids a new perspective and show them that if they have dreams, they can go out and pursue them,” he said.

It’s a cause that’s especially dear to Nugent, who grew up in a town not unlike Chestertown and knows firsthand the positive effects sports can have on kids’ lives.

“For whatever reason, early on, I got hooked on watching sports,” said Nugent, who idolized Walter Payton and Magic Johnson and spent afternoons playing football, basketball, baseball, and wiffle ball in the neighborhood youth center.

“My youth coaches and my high school football coach had a tremendous impact on me, and playing sports helped keep me focused and out of trouble and really allowed me to be here today,” he said.

In his ten years as head coach at Washington, Nugent has had the same positive influence on his players.

“I love what I do. I look at basketball as a classroom, or a laboratory for life, and my job is to be somewhat of an educator. If I’m not having that impact, I’m not doing my job,” Nugent said.

The other part of his job, of course, is preparing his team to win games, and he’d like to see lots of Sho’men fans in the stands cheering them on this season.

“When the gym’s full, the crowd is so supportive and loud as heck – it’s one of the loudest venues in the conference,” he said, encouraging even non-basketball fans to come check out a game.

“In basketball, spectators get to be right on top of the action. We play uptempo and our kids play hard, win or lose. It’s a lot of fun, and I don’t think anyone who comes to support us will be disappointed,” Nugent said.

The Shoremen’s next home game is December 1, at 8 p.m. in Cain Gym, against Haverford.

Novice Four Wins Second Straight Silver Medal


LORTON, VA — For the second straight regatta, the Washington College men’s rowing team won a silver medal in the men’s collegiate novice four, this time placing second of 16 boats at the Head of the Occoquan regatta in Lorton, VA.  The Shoremen competed in a total of four events at the regatta, their last of the fall season, also turning in impressive finishes in the men’s collegiate four and men’s collegiate eight.

The Shoremen’s novice four finished in a time of 19:15.33.  Ohio State was first, while Virginia Tech took third.  Ten of the 16 boats in the race were from NCAA Division I schools.

Freshman Chris Moylan (Silver Spring, MD/DeMatha) was the coxswain of the Shoremen’s boat in the men’s collegiate novice four. Freshman Blake Weishaar (Denton, MD/Sts. Peter & Paul) sat stroke, freshman Robert Billings (Easton, MD/Easton) was in the three seat, sophomore Aric Charowsky (Townsend, DE/St. Thomas More Prep) sat in the two seat, and freshman Max Villa (Great Meadows, NJ/Pope John XXIII) was the bow.

In the men’s collegiate four, the Shoremen were sixth of 30 boats. Sophomore Jeff Nutting (Catonsville, MD/Mount St. Joseph) was the coxswain of the Shoremen’s boat in the men’s collegiate four. Sophomore Lawrence Baker (Shady Side, MD/Southern) sat stroke, senior Will Herland (Seattle, WA/Lakeside School) was in the three seat, junior Miqdad Annab (Mechanicsburg, PA/Cumberland Valley) was in the two seat, and freshman Jack McCarthy(Long Beach Island, NJ/The Hun School) was the bow.

Two Notre Dame boats took first and second places in the race, while George Mason came in third. The top five boats and 22 of the 30 total boats in the race were all from NCAA Division I schools.

Today’s regatta marked the final competition of the fall for the Shoremen.

Shoreman Rowing Takes Silver at Head of the Schuylkill


PHILADELPHIA, PA — Asilver-medal finish out of 17 boats in the men’s college frosh/novice four highlighted the performance of the Washington College men’s rowing team at the Head of the Schuylkill regatta in Philadelphia on Saturday.

The Washington College men's rowing team frosh/novice four took the silver medal at the Head of the Schuylkill regatta.

The frosh/novice four finished in 15:50.96 to take second place behind first-place University of Pennsylvania. Army took third, while LaSalle was fourth. Eleven of the 17 boats in the race were from NCAA Division I schools. The only other boat to finish in the top eight from a non-Division I school was Hamilton, which finished in fifth place.

Freshman Chris Moylan (Silver Spring, MD/DeMatha) was the coxswain of the Shoremen’s boat in the men’s college frosh/novice four. Freshman Blake Weishaar (Denton, MD/Sts. Peter & Paul) sat stroke, freshman Robert Billings (Easton, MD/Easton) was in the three seat, sophomore Aric Charowsky (Townsend, DE/St. Thomas More Prep) sat in the two seat, and freshman Dominic DiMarino (Wilmington, DE/Concord) was the bow.

Moylan was a captain on his high school rowing team at DeMatha, a D.C. area prep school, where he was coached by Andrew Bright, a 2007 Washington College graduate.

The Shoremen’s top boat finished 10th in the men’s open heavy championship eight. The field of competitors included four rowing club boats, seven boats from NCAA Division I schools, and a boat from NCAA Division II Philadelphia University. With their 10th place finish, the Shoremen finished ahead of Villanova, Philadelphia U., and Lehigh. National team-level club Pennsylvania Athletic Club won the race, with the New York Athletic Club second0, and Drexel coming in third.

In the men’s open club eight, the Shoremen finished 11th of 21 boats. Quaker Rowing Club won the race with Saint Joseph’s University coming in second. The Shoremen were one of only five boats from NCAA Division III schools in the race.

The Shoremen close out their fall regatta schedule one week from today at the Head of the Occoquan.

Washington College Field Hockey Prepares for Postseason


CHESTERTOWN, MD — The Washington College field hockey team finished off its regular season with a 5-2 win over visiting Dickinson College in Saturday’sregular-season finale. The Shorewomen (8-9, 6-4 Centennial) clinched the fifth and final spot in the upcoming Centennial Conference Tournament before halftime of their game thanks to a 5-2 Haverford win over McDaniel.

Junior midfielder Gussie Reilly (Buck Hill Falls, PA/Mercersburg Academy) put the Shorewomen on the board early, beating multiple Dickinson defenders and lifting a shot into the upper right of the goal 3:30 into the contest.  Junior attack Emily Trees (Kensington, MD/Connelly School of the Holy Child) made it 2-0 when she fired in a goal into the lower left corner of the goal with 21:26 remaining in the first half. Dickinson (3-14, 2-8) trimmed the lead to 2-1 when Marybeth McCarthy knocked in a loose ball after a save with 8:11 left in the half.

Sophomore attack Melissa Rubacky (Dover, DE/Dover) sent a ball across the circle and near the goal, where it was put in by sophomore midfielder Kristen Wille (Stevensville, MD/Kent Island) with 27:24 to play in the second half to give Washington a 3-1 cushion, but Lauren Kelly cut the lead back to one goal with a score for Dickinson with 24:45 left. Wille gave the Shorewomen another two-goal lead when she scored off a penalty corner from senior defender Sara Rutkowski (Wernersville, PA/Conrad Weiser) with 13:11 remaining.  The Shorewomen tacked on their fifth goal when Reilly scored with 2:16 left in the contest.

Senior goalkeeper Shannon Davis (Sykesville, MD/Liberty) made six saves in the win for the Shorewomen. Ioni Kokdis made 14 saves in the loss for Dickinson. The Shorewomen held a 29-9 advantage in shots in the game, including a 22-2 advantage in the second half.

Rubacky, who had one assist in the game, was named Shorewoman of the Week for her play against Dickinson and against Bryn Mawr earlier in the week, when she scored four goals and had another assist.

The Shorewomen will play Gettysburg in the Centennial Conference Tournament’s first round game this Wednesday at 2 p.m.