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Maj. Sherri Tombarge
Director of News and Editorial Services
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Lexington, VA 24450

‘Some Beach’ Wins Cadet Outdoor Writing Mention

FullTextImage/img/@altMichael Gates talks with Dan Genest of Dominion, Virginia Outdoor Writers Association vice president. -- Photo courtesy of VOWA.

LEXINGTON, Va., March 7, 2014 – VMI Cadet Michael Gates recently received an honorable mention in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association’s collegiate writing contest. The theme for this year’s writing contest was a memorable outdoor experience or special interest.

On Feb. 22, Gates, a 4th Class cadet, or freshman, traveled to Charlottesville to read from his essay, “Some Beach,” at the annual meeting of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association. Gates’ first-person narrative is a coming-of-age story that recounts a day spent fishing on Florida’s Gulf Coast, where his family has had a beach house for generations. In awarding him an honorable mention, the VOWA noted that this year’s writing contest was the largest ever. Gates placed second behind the statewide winner.

“It meant a lot to me to place second in the state for this contest, and I’m glad I got to go represent VMI,” said Gates. “I am an engineering major and don't really think of myself as a strong writer, so I was very surprised to place in this contest.”

Gates added that he enjoyed the chance to read his work aloud.

“I enjoy public speaking and getting up to talk in front of groups, so this was actually pretty fun for me,” he said. “I had a great time talking to everyone there beforehand, and then the actual reading of my paper went really well. I think that I conveyed the voice of my paper in a way that did the paper justice and kept the audience entertained throughout the reading.”

Gates, a Charlotte, N.C., native, wrote “Some Beach” for his English 102 class, Writing and Rhetoric II, taught by adjunct instructor Mattie Quesenberry Smith. She accompanied Gates to the presentation in Charlottesville.

“We were all very impressed with Michael’s essay about a special place and time in his life, as it touched memories of our special outdoors experiences,” said Marie Majarov, president of the Virginia Outdoors Writers Association. “Michael was a very poised young man, doing a wonderful job speaking and reading his essay.”

Gates is a mechanical engineering major who plans to commission in the Army after graduating from VMI. He is the son of Kelley A. Gates of Marvin, N.C., and Robert C. Gates of Weddington, N.C.

-- Mary Price

 -VMI-