Tucked away, 45 rustic minutes from Richmond, is Fork Union Military Academy. The grounds are home to Fletcher Arritt, the school's head coach and full-time biology instructor. On Tuesday, we watched Arritt begin his fourth decade as head coach of the cadets.
So, what makes a Fork Union workout stand out from the others we attend? For starters, in addition to squeaking sneakers you hear communication. The players talk to each other more here. They have to. Other prep programs are more flush with talent so Arritt realizes on old-fashioned principles of teamwork and drills.
If you're at FUMA, you're either short in the academic department, need a refresher course on responsibility or want to be a scholarship player. When the bugle goes off in the morning, it's a military day at class and basketball becomes your part time course requirement.
"It's challenging," guard Eddie Johnson said. "I came here for the challenge. Coach is the reason I came."
Johnson, a 6-foot-4 wing, had Division II interest last year. Shortly he should find Division I schools in the gym putting his game under the microscope. He'll likely sign DI as a post grad in the Class of 2010.
Michael Fortune, a point guard from Woodrow Wilson High in Beckley, W.V., was offered a walk-on spot with the Mountaineers last year. He's at FUMA hoping to become a Division I player. "I came from a drive and dish system so I'm learning how we play," Fortune said. On Tuesday, he put himself in contention for a scholarship along with Johnson.
Fork Union Roster: C Alexander Schmidt, SF Tom Rogers, PG Julian Ramirez, PF Josh Burchfield, SF Dan Kusnyer, SG Allan Dickerson, SF Andrew Cressler, PF Mark Terrell, PF Rico Saldena, PF Shawn Shaffler.