The Chesleys of Southeast Washington have a few sports enthusiasts in the house. With good cause. The family's nine children, the pride and joy of Agnes and Walter Chesley, all have combined sports and scholarship to a remarkable degree.
Four of the brothers -- William, Walter, Francis and Al -- earned All-Met status in a total of three different sports.
William was selected All-Met in both football and baseball in 1972. Walter, William's twin, earned All-Met in basketball the same year. In 1973, Francis was chosen All-Met in Baseball. Two years later, Al garnered All-Met honors in football and baseball.
Not to be outdone, their two sisters grab their own spotlights. Ellen, a junior at Smith College in Massachusetts, is on the school's soccer team, having played basketball, softball and volleyball at Anacostia High. And Carolyn, a junior at Anacostia High, is on both the basketball and volleyball teams. Both are honor students.
Younger brothers Martin, 14, and Delmar, 12, will soon be entering Eastern and may well become significant factors in the athletic program there. In fact, a family opinion is that they may develop into the best of the lot.
It was only natural that people expected big things from John, the current emerging athlete in the family, when he enrolled as a sophomore at Eastern two years ago.
"I couldn't believe what people were saying when I first entered Eastern," the 17-year-old senior football and basketball star recalled. "They were predicting things like Eastern is going to be back on top again because another Chesley is here. They expected me to be a clone of my brothers."
He's had some big shoes to fill.
Wlater, a 1976 graduate of Boston University, works for a public relations firm while attending law school at American University.
Francis was graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1978, and is now a member of the Green Bay Packers. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals baseball team following his senior year in high school and then went on to college.
Al was graduated last June from the the University of Pittsburgh, where he made All-American. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates and is now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
William, a 1976 graduate of Federal City College, now teaches biology at Elliot Junior High and acts as an assistant coach on the University of D.C. football team.
Their father, who boxed as a light heavyweight in the Army and fought in Korea during World War II, surely must have been an inspiration to his children. Now a crane operator with the D.C. police department he is more fan than athlete. Their mother is a cafeteria aide at Malcolm X Elementary School. Both have instilled in their children a strict sense of family togetherness.
John Chesley said that ability is only half the reason for his prowess. "My brothers have been very instrumental in my development so far," he said. "Not only do they give me valuable information about how to get the best out of my abilities, they also stress very heavily the importance of maintaining high academics. When they come home, we sit down for hours and talk about preparing for life in the event that athletics don't work out."
Chesley, who maintains a B average, said his family's accomplishments pose a challenge.
"As of right now, I can't say exactly what I'd like to major in in college," he said, "but I do hope to ultimately pursue a degree in law."
Chesley has already been contacted by more than 100 colleges and universities interested in his skills in either basketball or football. He is not sure which he will pursue at this point.
Despite the pressure, he has done well for the Ramblers both on the football field and the basketball court. During his sophomore and junior years, he helped lead the football team to two consecutive Interhigh championships.
The team did not go on to win a third consecutive Interhigh East title this year, but Chesley was selected second team All-Met at defensive end.
Rambler coach Willie Stewart, who has coached all the Chesleys, feels that John has the qualities needed to become an outstanding tight end in college.
"First of all, John has excellent leadership qualities," Stewart said. "He leads by example, by his performance on the field. Second, at 6 foot 5, 225 pounds, he is the type of tight end coaches drool about. He has good speed, has excellent hands and his basketball ability of jumping gives him an extra edge."
Since getting the starting nod midway through his sophomore year, Chesley has improved tremendously. He averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds per contest as a junior and led the Ramblers to the Interhigh playoffs. As evidence of continued progress, he scored 44 points against Garfield this summer in the highly competitive Jeleff League. In Street and Smith's annual basketball edition, Chesley was cited for honorable mention on the magazine's All-American team.
Herman Cannon, who coaches basketball at Eastern, said Chesley has unlimited potential. "He has tremendous tools," he said. "He handles the ball well, he's strong, he has great moves, he rebounds well and most important of all, he goes to the hoop strong."
Chesley is already looking to his younger brother to continue the Chesley legend at Eastern when he departs.
"They are already much more advanced at this stage of their development in athletics," he said. "They started out much earlier and they have all of us to help them in whatever way we can." Martin is 6 feet tall and weighs 185 pounds, and Delmar is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 195.
And what advice will he give them when they face the pressure of trying to equal his feats?
"The same advice that my brothers gave me," he replied instantly. "Put pressure out of your mind and do what you do best as an individual. The rest will take care of itself."