Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Potomac Speedskating Club glides to glory

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Potomac speedskaters from the Potomac Speedskating Club came out on top Aug. 10 at the Coventry Commonwealth Games of Virginia, an Olympic-style sporting event for amateur sports enthusiasts.

The Arlington-based Potomac Speedskating Club, formed in May, is geared to develop skills for speedskaters of all ages, and many of its members hail from Montgomery County.

The group is comprised of about 60 members and coached by Dong-Sung Kim, an Olympic speedskating gold medalist from Korea.

"He is all business," said Alison Mittelstadt, of Bethesda, who joined the group with her daughter Sophie, 10. "He is very serious and he's brought the best of Korean coaching techniques with him to the U.S."

At the meet – the first major event for the group — Shaner Lebauer, 12, of Potomac, won the competition for his division at the games.

Lebauer skated along with his brother Nathan, 10, who won a silver medal for his age division. The brothers attend Sidwell Friends School in Northwest Washington.

Fellow Montgomery County residents Sophie Mittelstadt and Rochel Roland, of Kensington, also received silver medals for their age groups.

Roland, in an adult division, owns a business in Bethesda.

Another Potomac resident and student at the Landon School, T.J. Vongkovit, came in seventh in his division.

All in all, the club won seven silver and three bronze medals at the meet. The meet was the first of the speedskating season, which runs from August until the national championships in Michigan in March, Mittelstadt said.

However, she said, there's no "off-season" for the sport. The team members have been training hard all summer, usually about six days a week. Skaters train both on ice and off to develop the muscles necessary to maintain the exaggerated "crouch" form necessary for speedskaters.

"[Kim] really runs it like an elite Olympic training center – he's invested in these children long-term and he expects them to really make a serious commitment to the sport."

Mittelstadt said that the team members will continue to focus on success at the National Championships, and are hoping to eventually host an event similar to the Virginia meet.

To learn more about the Potomac Speedskating Club, visit www.potomacspeedskating.org

Get ready to party

The Potomac Community Center will soon start accepting applications for Club Friday, a popular Friday evening club for children in grades three through six.

Events will include basketball, billiards, bingo, dances, ping pong, special theme nights and movies.

Applications for memberships in the club will be accepted from Sept. 1 through Sept. 10 and are available at the community center at 11315 Falls Road. For parents who already have applications that were distributed at area elementary and middle schools, they can also be sent via mail, along with a $50 registration fee and a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Five hundred fifty students will be randomly selected for membership in Club Friday, which will kick off its 17th year Oct. 3.

Back to school memories

What was it like the first time you (or your kids) boarded the school bus and left summer behind? How long did it take you to pick out the perfect back-to-school outfit? Do you have a plan for getting the best deal on school supplies?  Tell us about it!

The Gazette wants to hear all your back-to-school memories, from first-day jitters and disasters, to making fast friends with your desk- or office-mate. Montgomery County Public Schools open Tuesday, so send us your photos and share your memories by Thursday.

Photos and stories will be considered for print and online. E-mail us at memories@gazette.net or write to The Gaithersburg Gazette, 9030 Comprint Court, Gaithersburg, MD, 20877.

Celebrating 20 years

in the community

Congregation B'nai Tzedek is gearing up to celebrate its 20th anniversary with a bang. The Conservative synagogue, founded in 1989, will host a Family Fun Day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at their location, 10621 South Glen Road, Potomac. Highlights of the day will include a rock wall, a moon bounce, a bubble machine, Hyperbowl, Guitar Hero and a DJ. The event is free and open to community members, friends and neighbors as well as congregants and prospective members. Lunch, snacks, drinks and desert will be available for purchase.

Potomac native honored

A Potomac native and Yale women's lacrosse player has been honored by the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association. Yale's women's lacrosse team, the Bulldogs, was one of 50 schools to earn Academic Squad honors nationwide by the lacrosse association. They were recognized for achieving a collective GPA of 3.0 or more.

In addition, Bulldog Katie Wiacek, of Potomac, was one of 159 students named to the IWLCA Division 1 Academic Honor Roll. Academic Honor Roll players must earn a GPA of 3.2 or higher.

Wiacek graduated this year from Yale with a B.A. in architecture. She attended the National Cathedral School.

This column is for you. Send press releases, news tips and other information to Erin Donaghue by phone to 301-280-3007, by e-mail edonaghue@gazette.net, by fax to 301-670-7183 or by mail to 9030 Comprint Court, Gaithersburg, MD 20877.