John didn't grow up here, but his roots run deep in Annapolis. His father attended St. Mary's from K to 12. And went on to play lacrosse at UMD. When it was time for basketball camp, John went to University of Maryland.
After camp, John and his dad would pick crabs at Cantler's.
Road to the Academy
John went to Villanova on ROTC, because Nova was "exorbitantly expensive." After college, he was commissioned as a Surface Warfare Officer. Not long after, he was teaching navigation and leadership at the Academy.
It didn't take long for him to fall in love. John and his wife bought a house in Arnold. He served elsewhere after his teaching gig ended, but they always came back—settling permanently in 2011. For his final tour in the Navy, he was the head spokesperson at the Academy.
And that's when the love of Navy sports started.
Locker room access
John got to see Navy sports in ways you and I can only dream of. When I asked John about his favorite Navy sports moment, he threw it back to his second year as Public Affairs Officer (PAO). It was the 2014 Army Navy game (17-10 Navy btw)...
As PAO, John was glued to superintendent Ted Carter. When they went into the locker room after the game, John said he'll never forget the emotion. The only thing that rivaled it was the unbelievable odor. It was the 13th victory in an amazing streak. The seniors were elated by winning their last Army-Navy game. Ted Carter—a four year Navy athlete himself—spoke to the team like a proud father.
As John shared, chills ran down my spine.
Lessons for life
Growing up, John played football, basketball, baseball, and tennis. He believes lessons learned from sports stick with you forever. He's spoken to astronauts who say they thought back to their little-league days when solving problems on the International Space Station.
A start up business—like the one John runs with some Navy colleagues—is just like a sports team. He and his partners disagree and get in each other's faces like they're on the practice field. This helps them perform better at crunch-time.
John's dad was a single parent. He always said in baseball, when the ball rolls between your legs, you feel awful. But then the only thing going through your mind is "damn, I really hope they hit the next ball to me."
"You're going to have adversity in life. Your ability to come back from that speaks volumes about you."
What's John up to now?
John spent the final 3.5 years of his Navy career as the Naval Academy spokesperson. After retiring, John started his own PR firm, Provision Advisors.
One of John's coworkers—Chris Servello—also works on Sing Second Sports as producer and editor. John met Ward, his co-host, when he was first stationed at the academy. They've been friends ever since.
They compliment each other well. John's in his late 40s and Ward's in his early 60s. Together, they can connect with a huge age range.
What's your favorite thing about Annapolis?
"The uniqueness of the communities. You can drive ten minutes from my house in Arnold and go for a run around the Yard. Any civilian can do it. Just bring a photo ID and you can run around some of the best real estate in Annapolis.
You can drive out to Bay Ridge and look at the Chesapeake Bay from the best vantage point there is.
You can drive 30 minutes and see the Smithsonian in D.C.
You can drive 25 minutes to Camden Yards and see the Orioles.
There's sailors in Eastport. Small business owners downtown. Or maybe you live in Riva and hang out at Mike's Crab House for happy hour every day."
What's your favorite restaurant?
"So when my father played football at St. Mary's, his coaches, according to him were George and Spiro Lewnes of Lewnes' Steakhouse. So my favorite steakhouse has always been Lewnes'. That's our special occasion spot.
Then my all time favorite is Dry 85, the bourbon bar. I've grown to be friends with the owners, Brian and Lisa Bolter. They're just the nicest people in the world.
John's a big bourbon fan (his favorite being Buffalo Trace), and said he actually had designs of doing the podcast in the back room of Dry 85. Then the pandemic hit...
He discovered Dry 85 when he was at the Academy. John would take his staff there on Friday afternoons."
Top three favorite athletes
"Number one all-time favorite with no question is Eddie Murray. My very favorite Oriole. I fashioned my batting stance around him. I always believed him to be the quintessential baseball player and as an Orioles fan, I loved him to death.
For basketball, I was a huge Alex English fan. He's way up there on the all-time scoring list, but he did it so quietly. I modeled my very poor basketball game after him.
And then John Elway. Growing up a Broncos fan, the guy could do no wrong—even though he lost four Super Bowls. Winning two made the four losses more palatable."
Connect with John
Listen to the podcast. You don't have to be a sports fan to love this show. This is a story about the amazing people who play Navy sports. Not the numbers they put up last weekend.