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This page is dedicated to various news articles that either I have come across or that have been emailed to me.  Please feel free to send more my way.

July 7, 2006
Head Coach Marlin Ikenberry
Head Coach Marlin Ikenberry
As Marlin Ikenberry enters his fourth season as the head coach of the VMI baseball team, he looks to continue the upward trend of the Keydets on the diamond, a run he has been instrumental in through his days as a player, assistant coach, and now as the teams head coach.

Marlin Ikenberry was named head coach on July 22, 2003, being promoted to the top spot in the program after former head coach Tom Slater departed VMI in the summer of 2003 to accept a coaching position at the University of Florida. Slater is currently in his third season as head baseball coach at Auburn University.

As Slaters top assistant and recruiting coordinator for three years, Ikenberry has played a key role in the resurgence of the VMI baseball program that set a school record for victories in 2003 at 24-28. That same year, the Keydets posted a 16-14 mark in the Southern Conference, securing their first winning conference mark since 1969.

Since taking over the helm, Ikenberry has continued that success, leading the Keydets to a record-breaking mark of 30-25 in the 2006 season. That campaign marked a school record for wins in a season, while it also became the program's first winning mark in 41 seasons. Previously, Ikenberry posted wins totals of 23 wins in his first season and 27 wins in his second year, making him the second-fastest coach to 50 wins in the program's history.

Hailed as one of the state's top recruiters, Ikenberry has signed several players that have enjoyed great success in Lexington. He is responsible for the signing of two Louisville Slugger Freshman All-Americans, a Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, three Big South First-Team All-Conference selections and a 2003 All-SoCon Tournament player.

Ikenberry, 33, served as VMI's recruiting coordinator and pitching and catching coach in 2003 and was vital in the staff's remarkable improvement that season. Working closely with the Keydet pitchers and catchers, Ikenberry helped guide the pitching staff to an improvement of nearly two runs in team earned run average from the previous season.

"We're very excited to have Marlin Ikenberry as our head baseball coach," VMI athletic director and former Keydets head baseball coach Donny White said upon Ikenberry's hiring. "He has all the ingredients to be a great head coach. His recruiting work has made a difference in the program and has certainly been instrumental to our success. He has the leadership and abilities to build on the program's recent performance and reach the goal of a conference championship."

A 1995 graduate of VMI, Ikenberry played for the Keydets and was recruited by VMI Hall of Famer Chris Finwood, now head coach at Western Kentucky. Ikenberry returned to his alma mater in the summer of 2000 after spending three years at the College of William and Mary as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. While in Williamsburg, Ikenberry earned a reputation as one of the state's top recruiters and landed two high school All-Americans and freshman All-Americans.

In 2000, the Tribe of William and Mary finished with a school record 32 wins and placed third in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. The team also set a school record for best fielding percentage at .967. The next season, William and Mary won the CAA Championship and earned a berth in the NCAA Regional Tournament.

During his coaching career, Ikenberry has helped guide 21 players onto professional careers in baseball. In recent years, Ikenberry was instrumental in the development of pitchers Duke Acors, Jeremy Harper, Phil Hendrix and J.J. Hollenbeck as well as catcher Andy Barden and infielders Matt Smith and Kelly Sweppenhiser.

As a cadet, Ikenberry was a four-year starting catcher for the Keydets. While playing, he developed a reputation for his excellent defensive skills and his handling of the pitching staff. He also caught for former VMI and major league pitcher Ryan Glynn.

He played on VMI's 1993 squad that advanced to the Southern Conference Championship game and ranked third in the nation in defense. In 1994, he helped the Keydets in setting a then school record for wins along with a third place finish in the Southern Conference Tournament.

A native of Richmond, Va Ikenberry has two brothers who both attended VMI. Twin brother Merlin Ikenberry was a teammate as a pitcher and designated hitter while his oldest brother Steve Ikenberry is an alum of the class of 1980. Ikenberry is a graduate of Douglas Freeman High School. He married the former Shannon Marshall in August, 2000.

Ikenberry Facts

  • Has been a part of four of the last five teams to break the VMI season wins mark. In 1995, was a senior starting catcher on the team that won 21 games, was an assistant on the 2003 team that achieved 24 wins, and was the head coach of the 2005 27-win team and the 2006 30-win squad. He was also an assistant on the 2000 William & Mary team that achieved a school-record 32 victories.

  • Is the second-fastest Keydet coach to 50 wins, doing so in 107 games, trailing only Charlie McGinnis (1961-65). Also the fastest coach to 75 wins, needing only 149 games.

  • Enters the 2007 season needing 12 wins to become the second-winningest coach in Keydet history and 25 victories to take over the top spot.

  • Has coached VMI to several landmark victories, including a series win at Auburn in February, 2006, the program's first-ever series victory versus an SEC opponent. The Keydets' 3-2 victory over #21 Coastal Carolina on March 26, 2005 was the team's first over a ranked opponent in over a decade, while the team's win over Virginia Tech in 2005 was the program's first in 18 years.

  • Was mentioned in the NCAA News in 1993 when he and twin brother Merlin formed the battery for the Keydets vs. Duke, while the Blue Devils also had a battery of twins in the lineup at the same time.

  • Starting catcher on the 1993 VMI team that made the Southern Conference Championship game before falling to Western Carolina.

  • Threw out over 50% of opposing basestealers during his four seasons at VMI.

Contact Marlin Ikenberry-
Phone: 540-464-7609

© Copyright 2001-2006 The Virginia Military Institute. All rights reserved worldwide.


Bin Laden intel 'has gone cold'

THE US believes Osama bin Laden is still alive, but intelligence on the al-Qaeda mastermind has gone "cold", the former commander of US forces in Afghanistan said today.

"Our working assumption is that Osama bin Laden is alive," Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry told CNN's Late Edition.

But asked whether he knew where bin Laden was located, Lt-Gen Eikenberry said: "The intelligence has gone cold on Osama bin Laden."

"The search for Bin Laden will continue because this man has committed mass crimes and atrocities against the American people," he said.

"Our military will not rest until that man is found, captured or killed," said Lt-Gen Eikenberry, who recently left his post and has been nominated for the position of deputy chairman of NATO military committee in Brussels.

Lt-Gen Eikenberry, who was commander in Afghanistan for 21 months, declined to say whether the search for bin Laden's right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, had also gone cold.



Ikenberry Orchards changing, while maintaining its roots

From left, Gwen Ikenberry, Ben Ikenberry and Loretta Ikenberry are the farming family behind Ikenberry Orchards.

It's not just apples and peaches anymore at Ikenberry Orchards.

The Daleville mainstay has branched out and is selling locally grown, fresh produce of all kinds.

Cooks who are into seasonal foods will find a year-round variety of items ranging from autumn gourds and squash to the sweet corn of summer.

The family-owned company has been making gradual changes for a number of years. The store blossomed this summer when Gwen Ikenberry, wife of owner Ben Ikenberry, came in to help out.

Gwen has a strong background in retail, having worked as a manger for both Kirkland's and HSN. She has an eye for display and has moved the store's wares into a new era.

Ikenberry's is known far and wide for apples, but the retail store now offers much more. We're handling fresh fruits and vegetables in season, Gwen said. Most of the items come from the Roanoke Valley area.

Shoppers also will find baskets, eggs, cider, jellies, jams, hams, dried beans, linens, wreathes, gift baskets, and other items to take home or give as gifts. Greenhouse wares are making a comeback at Ikenberry's, too, and the family may soon branch out into hydroponic tomatoes so folks can have fresh lycopenes year-round.

I want people to always find something new and different, Gwen said. It's constantly evolving.

As Botetourt County has slowly moved from a totally rural environment to a more suburban one, Ikenberry Orchards stands out as a unique survivor.
People move here from the city and expect the country. We fill a niche, Gwen said.

This year, in particular, customers have been anxious about Ikenberry's future. As the trees at the old Layman Brothers Orchards have fallen, folks have been asking how much longer Ikenberry Orchards will last.

The Layman property was sold last year and is in the process of being turned into a town, complete with shops and houses.

Every day we hear someone say, We hope you all don't sell out, Gwen said.

That's not going to happen to Ikenberry's.

Loretta Ikenberry, the 73-year-old family matriarch, said Ikenberry Orchards is here to stay. She is pleased with the changes Gwen has made in the store. They work as a team and Loretta said the family involvement works for them as it did for her forebearers.

She works closely with Gwen and Ben (who oversees the apple-picking and other outside duties) in all aspects of the company operations.

Ikenberry's began when most of Daleville was covered with orchards, not houses, a school, and businesses.

For a long time, Ikenberry's was two separate operations: the orchards and the packing house. The enterprise began with two brothers, C. S. and B.R. Ikenberry, who were Ben's great-grandfather and great-great uncle.

Over time, the company changed hands in such a way that Minor Ikenberry, one of the sons of B. R. Ikenberry, ended up owning the business. Loretta and her husband Jimmy, now deceased, purchased Ikenberry Orchards from Minor, who was Jimmy's father.

That tradition has continued, and today Loretta's sons Ben and Mark own shares in the company. Ben works the farm every day. Mark presently is a silent partner.

In 1996 the company increased its retail stock and began selling jellies, jams and other country items. Ten years later, they are expanding their wares again.

€œWe have always stressed quality. That is still foremost with us in our perishable products, Loretta said. €œThe challenge now, with the urban sprawl and the development all around us, is how do we compete?

She thinks having locally-grown produce is the answer. Food purchased at Ikenberry's hasn't been shipped 1,500 miles. The chances of being caught up in a nationwide e-coli outbreak are slim.

Nor does much of the food have dyes and other additives, though it is not organic.

Their mainstays continue to be summer corn, peaches and apples.

Eastern apples have a different flavor, Loretta said of her competition in the western states. Ikenberry apples have a sweet taste-and they make great fried apple pies.

Loretta said she understands why folks have to stop being farmers. It is hard work, and the life of an orchard tree isn't forever. Eventually orchards stop producing.

Farmers then have to decide if they can afford to tear up the trees, leave the ground fallow for several years, and then replant and wait many more years for the fruit to come forth. It can take as many as 25 years for an orchard to reach maturity.

Loretta and her husband faced that 10 years ago and at that time decided to sell some property on Glebe Road to Virginia Baptist Homes Inc. VBH built a retirement community on the former orchard site.

Plenty of orchards remain, though, and Ikenberrys still grows apples and peaches.

Now Loretta hopes that the next generation enjoys the locally-grown produce well enough to come back and shop frequently.

As Gwen says, their new line of cheese is to die for.