In the eyes of a child, a bully can mean a multitude of things.
In Bobby Garcia’s class, the martial arts instructor said students either don’t know what a bully is, have someone specific in mind, or simply think it’s a mean-looking person.
Garcia is an instructor in the Armor Bullying and Predator Prevention class at Pro Martial Arts in Lakewood. The owner of the martial arts studio is Drew McWay, a Park Cities resident and alumnus of Highland Park High School.
He considers himself a businessman and wanted to start something that would positively impact children and their parents.
Thus the Lakewood campus of Pro Martial Arts was born, offering basic karate programs for ages 3 and older.
Along with karate, the studio also offers the Armor program free to any member. That class teaches children about bullying — physical, verbal, social, and cyber — as well as predators.
“You can’t help but turn on the news and see some news story on some national scale and they’re talking about bullying and the impact it has on these kids,” McWay said. “And there’s in-person bullying; there’s cyber-bullying; there’s all these different facets and we’re really beginning to understand what a big deal it is for kids.
“We’ve got to learn how to deal with those sort of situations, and I think the earlier we can train our children, the better. And I think that a martial arts platform or curriculum is perfect for kind of delivering that message. We’re all about keeping our kids safe in our community and part of that is how to deal with bullies.”
But the studio doesn’t just want to teach its students how to deal with bullies and predators; it also aims to teach lessons of character. While in the studio, anytime a student is spoken to, a “yes ma’am” or “yes sir” immediately follows.
Kirstin Van Zee teaches some classes and said there’s more to martial arts than just the physical aspect.
“It’s not really about the kicking or punching,” she said. “We’re trying to instill focus and self-discipline and all these things, and it’s going to help them at school [to] get better grades. It’s going to help them at home because they’re going to be giving mom the ‘yes ma’ams’ and ‘no ma’ams’ that they should.”
This story appears in the July issue of Park Cities People, on stands now.
As a two-sport standout at Highland Park High School, Chris Hipps had a choice to make.
After winning his second national title as a starter on the lacrosse team at Duke University, Hipps is convinced he made the right one.
The Blue Devils earned their second consecutive crown with an 11-9 win over Notre Dame on May 26 in Baltimore, allowing Hipps and his senior teammates to end their college careers on a winning note.
“The second one was definitely different from the first,” Hipps said. “It was a group of seniors who had been playing together for four years. Getting the weight off our shoulders to succeed and do it again was more relieving.”
He finished with two goals in his four-year career, but more importantly, has been one of the top defenders in the ACC. He also graduated with a history degree in May.
Hipps was a four-year starter on defense for Duke after a stellar high-school career at Highland Park, when he helped the Scots take back-to-back state titles in 2009 and 2010.
He turned down some Division I scholarship offers in football as a wide receiver. Hipps said he originally wanted to play both sports at Duke, but decided against it after seeing a chance to start immediately on the lacrosse team.
“Lacrosse was my original passion, so I wanted to pursue that,” he said.
However, Hipps hasn’t given up his football dreams. After returning to the Park Cities, he said he hopes to play for SMU this fall as a graduate student, which means he would be able to play immediately and have one year of eligibility.
Although the details aren’t finalized yet for a possible season with the Mustangs, Hipps said he’s continuing to stay in shape. Otherwise, he’s just happy to have some time to relax.
“I’ve been working out and trying to figure everything out,” Hipps said. “I was ready to kind of go home and take it easy for a little bit. It’s nice to be back and spend time with my family.”
A professional career might also be in the works for Hipps, who was selected by the Charlotte Hounds with the 55th pick in the Major League Lacrosse draft in January. Hipps said he hopes to join the MLL franchise next season.
This story appears in the July issue of Park Cities People, on stands now.
Philosophical differences have led to a split between Northwest Bible Church and the prominent local Boy Scout troop it has sponsored for more than two decades.
Last May, Boy Scouts of America adopted a resolution stating it would no longer deny membership on the basis of sexual preference or orientation. A few months later, the leaders of Troop 125 were told by Northwest Bible Church officials that their longtime charter partnership would be discontinued and they would have to find a new place to meet.
Donald Huffines, who was the Troop 125 Scoutmaster at the time before resigning last fall to run for a state Senate seat, said the national vote led directly to the decision by church leaders.
“I think the church felt that the current BSA policy did not align with their beliefs,” Huffines said. “It was not a spur-of-the-moment decision for the church. They prayed about it a lot and discussed it at length.”
Northwest Bible Church officials did not respond to requests for comment, but Huffines said he was in discussions with church leaders about their intentions even before the results of the vote.
“Christ is a very important part of our fellowship with the troop,” Huffines said. “I’m not upset with the church. We understand their position. We appreciate our relationship with them. They could not have been a better sponsor.”
The vote to change the membership standards of BSA was favored by 62 percent of local delegates from all 290 councils throughout the organization. The resolution maintained the admission policy for adult leaders.
“Our job is to try and impact as many young people as possible with a positive program,” said Pat Currie, CEO of Circle Ten council, which oversees troops with more than 54,000 Scouts in 12 Texas counties, including Dallas. “Scouting has never been about sexuality at any level. We don’t teach sex education.”
Troop 125 — which primarily serves boys from the Park Cities and Preston Hollow — had its final meeting at Northwest Bible Church in early May before its charter transferred to Grace Bible Church in Preston Hollow.
“It’s inconvenient and unfortunate,” said Jeanette Smith, a Troop 125 parent. “I respect their right to have their opinion and their right to act consistently with those values. I strongly disagree with those opinions, but fortunately the troop was able to find another church host.”
Smith said she hopes the troop will be able to continue its membership growth despite being uprooted.
“Troop 125 has been an amazing experience for my son,” she said. “We’ve got strong leadership. I hope we’ll continue to have strong membership.”
Smith said that while Northwest Bible Church has been accommodating to the troop during the transition, the decision by its leaders was based more on exclusion than inclusion.
“They strongly believe that if they allow homosexuals in, then it goes against all their principles,” Smith said. “My faith is a little different, but I respect their right to have an opinion. I think it’s a bad representation of what Christ would have us do.”
Currie said most of the charter partners for troops in Circle Ten are churches and other faith-based organizations. Those agreements are renewable every year, so turnover is common.
He hasn’t noticed a significant spike in the number of charter partners who have bowed out because of the change in policy. Within Circle Ten, the turnover has been only slightly higher than usual in the past year.
“There are some people who are not pleased with that decision,” Currie said. “It reaffirms that to be in Scouting, you have to have a belief in God, and it reaffirms that the membership policy of the Boy Scouts will be inclusive of as many young people as possible.”
Currie said he is not aware of any scouts in Circle Ten who have declared their homosexuality. While such a scenario would not get a boy removed from scouting, inappropriate behavior would.
“It’s not about if you’re gay or straight. It’s about who you are as a person,” Currie said. “I haven’t found a church yet who said they would remove someone from the church just because they said they were gay.”
Huffines, a Dallas real-estate developer, resigned as scoutmaster in October 2013 to run for the District 16 seat in the Texas Senate. He defeated longtime incumbent John Carona in a contentious Republican primary race in March.
“I love Boy Scouts. It’s the greatest organization in the world to teach leadership, character development, and morals,” Huffines said. “It’s going to accelerate the erosion of their membership, because they’ve alienated their core members. They need to embrace their core principles and core beliefs.”
Furthermore, Huffines said the vote by BSA delegates could lead to a fracturing of the organization with regard to spiritual ideals.
“I think it was a big mistake what BSA did. They said they were not going to change the policy, and then eight months later they came back and changed it. The national leadership of the BSA cannot be trusted,” Huffines said. “They can’t be trusted not to open the door for more infiltration from the gay agenda. Eventually we’ll have gay scouts and gay scoutmasters and gay troops. They’ll keep coming until their mission is fulfilled.”
In the playoffs, it’s not about how you win, but only whether you win. So the Highland Park girls won’t complain after a 3-2 overtime victory over Forney on Tuesday in a Class 4A Region II quarterfinal.
Sara Summers scored the game-winner in the first overtime for the Lady Scots (20-4-1), while Hope Hyde scored both of the regulation goals, giving her eight in four postseason games.
The win sends HP back to the regional tournament, where it will face Waxahachie, a 1-0 winner over Whitehouse in another regional quarterfinal on Tuesday. That game will start a semifinal doubleheader on Friday at Standridge Stadium in Carrollton.
It was the second time this season that the Lady Scots knocked off the Lady Jackrabbits, including a 2-1 win during a season-opening tournament in January at Highlander Stadium. It also marked HP’s 12th consecutive victory overall.
This is the biggest week of the track and field season for dozens of Highland Park athletes attempting to run, jump, and throw themselves one step closer to the state meet.
Their first postseason opportunity comes at the District 10-4A meet at Standridge Stadium in Carrollton, which is whittling the competition down to eight finalists in each event during today’s preliminaries.
The top four finishers in each event will advance to the area meet next week, also in Carrollton, which will combine districts 9-4A and 10-4A to determine regional qualifiers.
The 3,200-meter finals are slated for today, along with the finals in pole vault, shot put, and triple jump. The rest of the events will be tomorrow, with field events (long jump, high jump, and discus) starting at 10 a.m. and running finals getting underway at 3:15 p.m.
As the field continues to dwindle, the games get bigger for the Highland Park girls soccer team during its postseason run.
The next test for the Lady Scots will come on Tuesday, when HP faces Forney in the Class 4A Region II quarterfinals at 6 p.m. at Lake Highlands. It will be a rematch of a game that HP won 2-1 in January during a season-opening tournament at Highlander Stadium.
The Lady Scots (19-4-1) advanced to the regional quarterfinals with a 2-1 victory over Frisco on Friday, marking their 10th straight win overall. Hope Hyde and Megan Uhr scored the goals for HP, giving Hyde six goals in three playoff games.
Forney knocked off Wylie 2-1 in the sectional round on Friday. The Lady Jackrabbits (17-6-3) were the runner-up behind Mesquite Poteet in District 23-4A during the regular season. Forney’s Kayleigh Phillips is one of the top strikers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The winner will move on to the regional semifinals this weekend in Carrollton, and will meet either Waxahachie or Whitehouse on Friday.
By the way, in boys playoff action, Poteet and Frisco Wakeland will play their regional quarterfinal at Highlander Stadium at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Editor’s note: This story also appears in the April edition of Park Cities People.
Vaughn Miller thinks the sport of polo gets a bad rap.
The Highland Park resident is trying a more grassroots approach to spreading the popularity of a sport known for its royal roots and country-club reputation. He wants to open the game up to children, and to those families who might not own a stable full of horses.
That’s one reason why, in 2008, after more than a decade playing regularly at other clubs throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Miller founded Prestonwood Polo Club, located in the community of Oak Point, just north of Lewisville Lake near Little Elm.
“We wanted to be accessible to everyone. Polo has this reputation as an elitist sport,” Miller said. “We knew we had something special and wanted to build on that.”
Two years later, he started a youth camp with the help of a grant from the United States Polo Association. He said the summer program so far has hosted about 24 kids, who are provided with equipment and an equine partner.
Miller traces his love for polo back more than 20 years. He one played alongside Prince Charles of Wales in a charity match overseas, and even met his wife at a match.
He has passed that passion along to his two sons, Vaughn Jr., 14, and Vance, 13, who comprise two-thirds of Prestonwood’s youth select team that has become nationally recognized. The third is Ronnie Puente, who attends Little Elm High School.
“They both fell in love with the sport and became good at it,” said Miller, who also coaches a women’s club team at TCU.
The Prestonwood varsity team began competing at the USPA Open National Interscholastic Championships two years ago, and last year was the youngest team at the national event, which is played with three players instead of four, and on a much smaller field than traditional polo.
In February, Prestonwood won its second consecutive Central Regional Championship in Houston, with Vaughn Miller Jr. being named the tournament MVP. The younger Miller said he hopes to eventually earn a college scholarship in polo.
“I was always riding horses from a really young age,” said Vaughn Jr., a freshman at Highland Park High School. “I practiced a lot and got a lot better. My goal is to be one of the best players in the world, and I feel I can do that.”
The Highland Park girls soccer team continued its quest to make a return trip to the state tournament on Friday when it knocked off Frisco 2-1 in the Class 4A Region II sectional round in Richardson.
Hope Hyde and Megan Uhr scored the goals for the Lady Scots (19-4-1), who won their 11th consecutive game. Jordan Hill scored the only goal for the Lady Raccoons (22-3), as Frisco fell to HP in the sectional round for the second straight year.
The Lady Scots advance to the regional quarterfinals, where they will meet Forney, which knocked off Wylie 2-1 on Friday. Those teams have a history as well, as HP defeated Forney 2-1 in a season-opening tournament in February at Highlander Stadium.
As the District 10-4A baseball schedule hits the halfway mark, there’s little doubt who the MVP has been for Highland Park.
Layne Looney was the hero again during a 2-1 win over Terrell on Thursday at Scotland Yard. He pitched a complete game, allowing an unearned run while striking out 10. That gives him a 6-0 record this season and a 0.35 earned-run average. He has pitched 23 straight innings without allowing an earned run, and that stretch included a no-hitter last week against Carrollton Creekview.
He also came up with the game-winning hit at the plate last night against the Tigers, allowing HP to win its third straight game and climb back into contention for a playoff spot. In those three victories, the Scots (13-10, 4-3) have scored a total of just seven runs, but have allowed only one. Plus, Creekview and Terrell were tied for the district lead entering Thursday.
HP faces another crucial home game tonight when it opens the second half of the 10-4A slate against Forney.
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If recent history holds true, the District 10-4A tennis tournament this weekend should be little more than a tuneup for Highland Park.
The Scots have bigger goals in mind this spring, namely a repeat of their effort from a year ago at the Class 4A state tournament in Austin, where HP tied its own state record by winning titles in four of the five classifications.
“I’m hoping that we can do that again,” said HP head coach Dan Holden. “I think we’ve got a legitimate shot.”
But that opportunity is a few weeks away. First, the focus is on the district tournament, which begins Friday at Fair Oaks Tennis Center. The action shifts to Highland Park for the semifinals and finals on Saturday morning.
“We’re the favorites to win and finish second in every category at this point,” Holden said. “Any time you get into the playoffs, you want to start off well and progress on through the state championship.”
HP will have two entries in each of the five brackets. They include:
- Boys singles — Cole Hausman and Matt Wojtaszek
- Girls singles — Chandler Carter and Caitlyn Frankel
- Boys doubles — Hunter Holman/Connor LaFavre and Gardiner Perotti/Harrison Buford
- Girls doubles — Elizabeth Porter/Margo Taylor and Elizabeth Burgos/Jennifer Mee
- Mixed doubles — Mac McCullough/Elizabeth Tedford and Charlie Legg/Logan Lett
This spring, the Scots have picked up where they left off in the fall team season, when HP won another crown in its final season at the 4A classification. The Scots will move up to the new Class 6A later this year.
“It’s time to put everything together and get that snowball rolling downhill,” Holden said. “We’re heading toward that peak. The kids have worked hard all spring, and I think they’re playing good tennis.”
None of the three state championship doubles teams from 2013 will have the chance to repeat together, although LaFavre won a title a year ago in mixed doubles, while his new partner, Holman, earned gold in boys doubles.
One bracket in which the Scots lack experience is boys singles, a division in which they didn’t even have a state qualifier last season. Both Hausman and Wojtaszek are freshmen that could surprise this time around, Holden said.
“We’re looking for some good things from them, but they are young,” he said.
Holden said the high expectations this month for HP stem from the program’s consistent performance in years past.
“That’s something we talk about all the time. Every class that comes in has to be mindful of the tradition, and what they’ve been handed by their brothers and sisters before them,” Holden said. “They embrace that. They expect to win. It’s definitely about winning championships around here.”
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