At Play – Winter 2011

Published: Jan 19, 2011


In 2009, UMBC men’s soccer players Levi Houapeu ’11 and Andrew Bulls ’12 led the nation in scoring.

In 2010, the duo led the Retrievers to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 years – and notched UMBC’s first tourney win on November 18 with a thrilling comeback win against Princeton University.

Early on in the season, the 2010 Retrievers squad fought hard but achieved middling results, with only four wins in their first seven games.

But bolstered by goalkeeper Dan Louisignau ’12 and freshman forward Pete Caringi, Jr. (son of men’s soccer coach Pete Caringi), the team gelled at midseason, reeling off six straight wins – including a thrilling victory against the University of New Hampshire on penalty kicks – to finish the season as America East champions.

The Retrievers faced a stern test in their first NCAA Tournament game in more than a decade: a trip to Princeton to play a Tigers squad riding a twelve-game winning streak. After falling behind by a goal in the first half, the Retrievers rallied for an enthralling 2-1 victory with goals by Houapeu and Bulls.

UMBC had three days to savor the win before facing the College of William and Mary. The Retrievers extended that game – and their magical run – to two overtimes and yet another penalty shootout before succumbing to the Tribe and exiting the tournament as the most successful men’s soccer squad in school history.

— Richard Byrne ’86
(See “Over Coffee” for a conversation between Levi Houapeu and 1999 UMBC men’s soccer standout Giuliano Celenza.)


UMBC swimming coach Chad Cradock ’97, psychology, likes to share the credit for UMBC’s aquatic success – even when he was the one receiving a 2010 Outstanding Alumni of the Year award in October.

Cradock accepted the Distinguished Alumnus in the Social Sciences award that evening with a speech that thanked a number of people and organizations inside and outside the athletic department that he credits with helping the university’s aquatics program succeed.

“It is why I am where I am – because of the people around me,” Cradock said. “I have a great staff. It’s just a combination of everybody involved that has allowed us to be successful. It’s allowed me to get that recognition.”

A native of Ontario, Canada, Cradock swam on UMBC’s team for all four years as an undergraduate. He moved quickly from assistant coach to head the entire aquatics program – including coaching both men’s and women’s teams – in 2001. He’s won nine straight men’s America East conference titles, while adding four women’s titles as well.

Family is part of the winning equation. His seven-year old daughter has started her swimming career on the school’s club team for children ages 7-18, which Cradock manages along with his other duties.

Cradock sees his award as a tribute to swimming’s growing stature at UMBC.

“It meant a lot for our sport to be recognized within our institution,” Cradock said. “Swimming doesn’t generally get recognized a lot at other institutions, but we get support here.”

— Jeff Seidel ’85


Daphne Gardner ’09, interdisciplinary studies, got the idea for Oh Adelaide! – a new film written, directed and produced by a group of young UMBC alumni – in bleak midwinter New York City.

“I was really cold and tired of winter,” she recalls, “so I started writing stories about young women living in Brooklyn during the winter with really bad luck…. The one story I liked working on the most was about a young woman faced with an unplanned pregnancy and lost dog.”

Gardner’s story was the nexus for a group of young alumni – including Patrick Letterii ’09, theatre and interdisciplinary studies, Jaron Lopez ’10, film and Renata Melillo ’08, theatre – to come together and make it into a movie. The group raised money for the film on the IndieGoGo website and shot it in December in the wintry New York that provides the story’s setting.

“This has been an exciting project because it’s the first time I’ve been able to work with my talented friends on a film that is altogether ours, from start to finish,” says Letterii, whose theatre company (Tenement Street Workshop) produced the film. “Oh Adelaide! represents a crucial point in our lives where we begin to take full ownership of professional work.”

The group plans to screen the film in the spring, with a stop at UMBC’s campus along the way.

“While cold weather and ex-boyfriends can be very unforgiving,” Gardner observes, “it was exciting to write characters that didn’t let these things break them.”

— Richard Byrne ’86
Image: Nick Ray McCann


Luke Roberts ’12 will make it to the Grammy Awards this year on the strength of his music. In the future, he may be walking across the stage to pick up a statue.

A junior mechanical engineering student and a Meyerhoff Scholar, Roberts won the second season of the international YOBISing online music competition with his song “Turn Me Around.” The prizes included $18,000, a trip to Los Angeles, VIP tickets to the 2011 Grammy Awards and an after-party.

Roberts started out playing drums, eventually learning piano and writing songs. His father was in a local band, and his brother Daniel Roberts ’10, music, plays guitar, piano and sings. Both siblings play together in a group called Band of Brothers.

“Music connected to a part of me and allowed me to let things out that I couldn’t any other way,” says Roberts.

“Turn Me Around” was selected as one of 30 semifinalists out of an entrant pool of over 3,000 contestants. Roberts used social media and other methods of promotion to spur his song to victory.

His passions also extend to engineering and research. Roberts currently has an internship at The Johns Hopkins University, where he works on prosthetic hand research, including a glove that can detect if an object is slipping through its grasp.

Roberts’ YOBISing experience didn’t end with his winning entry and the Grammy Awards. Entrants in 2011 will be greeted by videos of Roberts, who is the host of this year’s competition.

— Connor Aylsworth ’08


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