Annual Mermaid Cup supports VIMS research

  • Mermaid Cup 2017
    Mermaid Cup Winners   Peninsula AGC president Paul Bollinger (far right) and AGC member/Mermaid Cup organizer Bill Walsh (2nd from left) of Walsh Electric pose with first prize winner Team Branscome members Tom Jones (2nd from right) and Bo Webb (far left).   © C. Katella/VIMS.
  • Mermaid Cup 2017
    Mermaid Cup   Attendees prepare to depart for the golf course before the start of the 2017 Mermaid Cup.   © C. Katella/VIMS.
  • Mermaid Cup 2017
    Teeing Off   Team Wolf Contractors tees off on the 18th hole at Kiln Creek Golf Course and Resort at the start of the 2017 Mermaid Cup.   © C. Katella/VIMS.
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The Peninsula chapter of the Associated General Contractors (ACG) of Virginia hosted the 3rd annual Mermaid Cup golf tournament on September 20th at Kiln Creek Golf and Country Club in Newport News, supporting the Virginia Institute of Marine Science Foundation.

Unlike last year’s event, postponed from its original date due to the threat posed by Hurricane Matthew, the 2017 edition was held on-time and under picturesque conditions. “With perfect weather in hand, we couldn’t have asked for a better day for this year’s event,” says Jennifer Dillon, VIMS Associate Director of Advancement. “We are appreciative of the teams who made the time to come out and support the VIMS Foundation.” This year’s event drew nearly 100 golfers. 

VIMS Associate Director of Advancement Jennifer Dillon addresses Mermaid Cup attendees during awards presentation.Dillon credits Bill Walsh of Yorktown-based Walsh Electric, and Peninsula ACG member, for the continuing success of the Mermaid Cup tournament. “Bill continues to be an incredible champion of VIMS in the Hampton Roads community, and through his work, we’ve been able to create lasting connections not previously available,” she says. Walsh attributes Kiln Creek’s central location as a big benefit for attendees and hopes to bring in more participants next year. “The course was in excellent shape with beautiful weather to boot,” says Walsh.

Impact of support

Donations received through the Mermaid Cup help benefit the VIMS Foundation, created in 2000 to help support student fellowships, researchers, and institutional needs. 

At the end of tournament play, attendees had the opportunity to speak with VIMS Ph.D. students Gail Schweiterman and Willy Goldsmith as they discussed their research topics. Schweiterman described her studies of how capture stress impacts cardiac function in sharks. “Most of my conversations centered on sharing what chemical changes happen in the body when (organisms) are hooked and held out of water, but we also discussed life as a graduate student, the Eastern Shore Lab facilities, and plans after graduation,” says Schwieterman.

VIMS graduate students Willy Goldsmith (L) and Gail Schweiterman (R) answered questions from Mermaid Cup attendees about their research activities.Goldsmith presented a photo essay describing how surveys he offers as part of his dissertation can reveal the preferences and values of recreational anglers fishing for Atlantic Bluefin tuna along the U.S. East Coast. “I really appreciated the opportunity to speak with supporters of VIMS research at the Mermaid Cup,” says Goldsmith. “I think folks were especially keen to hear about the broader potential impacts of my work—how it could impact both tuna and the people that fish for them—a testament to VIMS’ longstanding commitment not only to top-notch marine science research, but to advisory services.”

Schweiterman says attendees “appreciated getting a first-hand look at some of the research they’re actively supporting,” and hopes they will communicate what was shared to their friends and families.

Dillon says that events such as the Mermaid Cup help to increase awareness of VIMS’ research activities, as well as the benefits they bring to Chesapeake Bay, other marine environments around the world, and the people who depend on the sea for their livelihoods.

Walsh says “VIMS is still a well-kept secret around our Bay watershed…The more events like the Mermaid Cup we can encourage each year, the better for our beloved Chesapeake.” 

Special recognitions

In gratitude for their assistance, Dillon says VIMS and the VIMS Foundation would like to thank the Peninsula ACG, event staff, and all businesses and friends who supported the Mermaid Cup through event and hole sponsorships and their attendance. Sponsors were Branscome, Inc.; Capital Tristate; Chesapeake Bank; Clancy & Theys; Cook & Boardman; Eure, Inc.; Gexpro; Greybar Electric; David R. Hall, Inc.; Heartland Construction; HRB/Rutherfoord; Hudgins Contracting; Jackcrete of VA; W.M. Jordan Company; Laufer Insurance & Financial/Nationwide; Old Point National Bank; Republic Construction; Ritchie-Curbow Construction Co.; United Rentals; Walsh Electric; Wolf Contractors; and Ware Insurance. 

Walsh specifically thanks longtime ACG member Dick Moyers, who is retiring from the association this year, for his continued support. “Dick helped steer the annual fundraiser toward VIMS and is largely responsible for getting the contractor community interested and excited about supporting the Institute,” says Walsh. “Dick is a treasure and we will all miss him dearly next year.” Walsh also mentions Paul Bollinger of W.M. Jordan Company, Rob Collins of Ritchie-Curbow, and Chad Gowger of Clancy & Theys for being “strong and active supporters” of the tournament and VIMS.

In looking to the future, Walsh says “mermaids all around our Bay watershed should be smiling more very soon!”