The core philosophy of Mazda’s designers elevates the car almost to living-being status. They want to juxtapose the ferocity of a leopard falling out of a tree onto its prey with the feline grace of a Persian cat stretching in front of the fireplace on a cold winter night. They also believe that science without heart yields humdrum vehicles that always feel like “more of the same.” They want people to get emotional about their new cars, which is why they put everything into the exacting craftsmanship, elegant lines and work-of-art wow factor of every Mazda.
With just a couple of months left before the season begins, the University of Richmond football team is busy making preparations. The squad recently completed its spring scrimmage, and the offense cruised to an easy victory over the defense. Richmond Spiders head coach Danny Rocco is excited for the upcoming season and remarked that he hopes the team can regain its 2012 form when they finished first in the conference. The team is particularly interested in beating fierce rival William & Mary in 2014, particularly because that team still holds the all-time record edge since the first meeting in 1898. Richmond travels to Williamsburg this year, which means the game will be in enemy territory.
As shown in the spring scrimmage, the strength of the Spiders is on offense. Returning stars include wide receiver Stephen Barnette and quarterback Michael Rocco. Running backs Jeremiah Hamlin and T.J. Moon are solid performers in their own right. On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Sean Ryan and defensive lineman Anthony Tallman look to solidify the other side of the ball. Coach Rocco also hopes his current crop of players can eventually follow in the footsteps of the four Spiders currently playing in the NFL: Josh Vaughan of the Falcons, Cooper Taylor of the Giants, Lawrence Sidbury of the Colts and Paris Lenon of the Broncos. He and the Spiders have been working hard all spring getting ready for Morehead State players, who arrive in Richmond on August 30 to kick off the season.
For more than nine million children over the last 17 years, The First Tee has been an inspirational beacon for today’s teens. The program has chapters in all 50 states and several countries including Canada, Ireland and New Zealand. The aim of the organization’s 17,000 volunteers is to instill self-confidence; pride in oneself and one’s achievements; and The First Tee’s Nine Core Values:
In addition to these core values, The First Tee also stresses how crucial health and community are. The organization encourages members to develop these nine values:
To foster a better understanding of self discipline and fair play, The First Tee provides an environment where each member is accountable for his or her own actions. Every member must abide by the rules of golf, and leaders within the organization teach members that this also means doing what is right even when others are not watching or paying attention. In short, the group’s mission is to build character in young people through the game of golf.
Research indicates that the program is successful, and more than three-quarters of participants reported that they enjoyed better social interaction with their peers and adults in their lives. More than half told researchers that the program helped them recognize and respect diversity and helped them with important life skills, such as meeting new people courteously and enjoying building friendships. Nearly three-quarters credited the program with their new-found confidence in their ability to achieve academically. Nearly everyone reported having fun learning the game, working toward perfecting the golf swing, and enjoying time spent together with new friends. Through golf, The First Tee also attempts to develop healthy and active lifestyles for today’s children because they sometimes suffer from an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.
The First Tee has five founding partners, all of whom are giants in the golf world. The PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour, the Masters Golf Tournament, the PGA of America, and the USGA have all made unique contributions to The First Tee after helping found the organization. It also has two corporate sponsors: Johnson & Johnson and Shell Oil. Even with all this high-powered help, the organization benefits from the generous donations of individuals throughout the country and the world.
There are many ways people can help the organization. Other than a direct monetary gift, people can donate equipment, volunteer their time and talents and offer to match other gifts. It’s not only the kids that benefit either: people who volunteer for the organization feel fulfilled by making a difference in a child’s life. If they learn to swing a club along the way, so much the better.
Alex Perdikis was born February 7, 1975 in Bethesda, Maryland, and grew up in the area. Throughout his childhood, he showed entrepreneurial spirit and shoveled snow, cut grass, ran errands and generally helped people out around the neighborhood for money. Even today, he’s said on numerous occasions that part of what drives him now was his the ambition he cultivated as a boy. He also developed a love of sports as a young man by playing competitive tennis and football. In fact, his football prowess led him to the University of Richmond. He played linebacker before getting seriously hurt just before his senior year. After graduating in 1997 with a degree in business administration and a concentration in marketing and management, Alex Perdikis joined Koons Automotive and has been with the popular organization ever since.
As a member of the Koons team, there isn’t much that Perdikis hasn’t accomplished. It only took him three months to shoot to the top of the sales heap in all 16 dealerships owned by Koons at the time, and his superiors took instant notice. He was fast tracked into management and achieved the rank of general manager in under four years. He then led individual dealerships to places on the top 10 lists of no fewer than four automotive brands, achieved recognition for superb leadership through awards and universal acclaim, and presided over more than a billion dollars of automotive sales over the intervening 12 years.
During the 10th year of Alex Perdikis’ Koons tenure, he was promoted to Executive Vice President of the entire company. In that position, his complete dedication to customer satisfaction and professional service brought the company to even greater heights. He was also instrumental in acquisitions with dealerships of 10 different automotive brands. He wisely understood the inherent value of dealing in pre-owned vehicles as long as they were well maintained. He has built that section of the business into a success from next to nothing. He now owns Koons of Silver Spring, a growing and successful dealership located near Washington, D.C.
In addition to his work with Koons, Perdikis has served on the board of directors of the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association and has volunteered countless hours with area charities. He worked most closely with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as a Man of the Year candidate in 2014.
Perdikis married his high-school sweetheart, and they currently have three young daughters. Even though he works many hours, he finds time for managing his daughter’s soccer team and keeps active with running, working out, playing basketball and golfing. He also gives generously to many other charities, including the American Cancer Society, and is a stalwart leader in the community.