June 30, 2015

Who hasn’t had this happen to them?

You are standing in line for coffee at a travel plaza and someone walks up to you and asks, “Did you go to Culver?” Then you realize you have a Culver ring/hat/T-shirt/sweatshirt on and the conversation starts. Stories are told. Experiences are shared. Almost every alum, parent, or student has such a story to tell.

Let us know about your “Crossing Paths” story. Leave a comment below or send an email to Jan.Garrison@culver.org. If you have a photo, please include that, too.

En garde!

Phil Sbarbaro W’59, N’63, of Vienna, Va., was competing in Reno, Nev., at the U.S. Fencing Association National Championships from Feb. 26-March 2. Sbarbaro fences in the Veterans Men’s Saber 70-plus category and has already qualified for the U.S. team that will compete in the World Championships in Limoges, France in October.

That same weekend, Megan Yeager ’15 (Culver) was among the Culver Academies’ qualifiers competing in the USFA Junior Olympics. Megan finished sixth in saber and was the only Culver fencer to medal. She heard Sbararo’s name over the loud speaker. “I know him,” she said to teammates and went off to find him.

The only thing better than taking first place and automatically qualifying for the World Championships is to do it with the power of those children behind me.

“After nine bouts and hundreds of touches against competitors from throughout the world,” Sbarbaro wrote later that he “looked up to find those incredible faces in Culver sweatshirts and warm-up suits, cheering for me. The only thing better than taking first place and automatically qualifying for the World Championships is to do it with the power of those children behind me. It was truly a moment I shall never forget.”

Because Sbarbaro (the president of the Culver Summer Schools Alumni Association in 2009-11) considered all the Culver fencers winners, he invited them to join him on the podium.

Culver fencing coach Matt Cameron also knows Sbarbaro’s coach, Alex Ryjik, who was also present and taught fencing at Culver one summer.

Sbarbaro coached Naval Academy fencers for eight years, calling them “the finest young people that America can produce.  . . . and they would learn like sponges. Culver students are identical, as you know. Look at those faces and look at their coaches. Seriously, quite a moment.”

Flight time

Susan Knoll ’83 (Coppell, Texas) shares an interesting experience while flying from Denver to Dallas in March.

She was seated next to a young man who slept the entire flight, waking up only when the flight touched down. “I leaned over and told him I wanted some of whatever he had because I did not know how he had been able to sleep through the three obnoxious children seated behind us. I could hear them over my headphones.”

He replied he was just a tired college student. Knoll asked what college and he responded, “Air Force Academy, ma’am.” Knoll said “job well done. I had a classmate who went there. I attended this college prep school. It was military for guys, private school for girls.”

The student looked her and asked what school. When she said Culver Girls Academy/Culver Military Academy “he about dropped out of his seat,” Knoll wrote.

“So did I,” he responded.

(Knoll didn’t get his full name, but the young man was Tyler Rostenkowski, who attended the Academies from 2007-09. He was a Batten Scholar who left to play junior league hockey.)

“His experiences at Culver played big into why he is now at the Air Force Academy. We talked all the way off the plane and down to baggage claim,” Knoll said in an email. “That entire two-hour flight and who knew I was sitting next to an alumnus?”

By the way, Rostenkowski lists John-Michael Liles ’99 as his favorite NHL player on his Air Force hockey biography.

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