Serious at cards and the violin; Player: Scottie Waldron, 12, a 0) life master at bridge, was recently awarded a $5,000 college scholarship by the American Contract Bridge League.
He is a thin boy of delicate appearance, diminished further ba red, yellow and black plaid shirt he has not yet grown into. There he is amid a sea of gray heads. But he's quite at home among all those 50-ish empty-nesters who have taken over a hotel near BWI airport for one of their frequent weekend bridge tournaments.
Scottie Waldron, at 12, is a member with all the others of the Maryland Bridge Association. Quite a distinguished member at that. Recently he became a life master in this pastime, which at one time was considered "the favored game of the fashionable world." That means he's a better player than about half of the 500 people who participated in that weekend's tourney.
For his unexpected skills, Scottie was recently awarded the 1997 J. Homer Shoop bridge scholarship by the American Contract Bridge League. It's worth $5,000, to the college of his choice. He'll receive the award this summer.
Though bridge may have lost some of its luster in recent decades, it still has its enthusiasts.
Scott Waldron, Scottie's father, is one of them. He taught his son and namesake to play when he was 9. The rest, as they say, is history. But it is history still being made, fashioned by Scottie's ambition.
"I intend to go on to be a grand master," he says, quite sure of himself.
Being a life master at contract bridge at age 12 is impressive, though there have been younger ones. Currently, Scottie's the youngest in the country. Being a grand life master is impressive at any age. The rankings are bestowed by the ACBL according to points accumulated by winning games during tournaments.
Scottie, for instance, became a life master after accumulating 300 points. A grand life master must put together 10,000 points, and at least one North American championship.
Though Scottie plays bridge regularly as his father's partner and also plays unseen opponents all over the world via his computer, the boy's not obsessed with the game. He plays because it's fun, because he likes games that involve the mind, and thinking. But he plays bridge as a hobby. He plays the violin with much more determination.
"About the violin," he says with youthful seriousness, "I'm more serious."
Thus there is deeper dimension to this straight-A sixth-grader at Cockeysville Middle School -- his desire to become a concert violinist. A soloist.
His heroes? Who else but his dad, his bridge partner. And Pinchas Zukerman. Photographer C. Taylor Crothers is accustomed to notoriety and celebrated subjects. He has worked extensively with recording artists Phish and the Dave Matthews Band. His documentary images of fraternity hazing raised a stir after appearing in the pages of the New York Times Magazine.
But nothing prepared Crothers for an assignment last summer, when he was hired to photograph pro basketball bad-boy Dennis Rodman. During production of MTV's "Rodman World Tour," he spent three months on the road with the pierced and tattooed Rodman.
Surrounded by an entourage of strippers and celebrities, in exotic locales like Monte Carlo and Rome, Crothers found himself overwhelmed.
"I was blown away," said Crothers, who grew up in Cecil County and now lives in New York City. "Everywhere the guy went, a huge party erupted around him. No sleep, no home, no relaxation."
Despite the endless distractions, Crothers managed to capture some unique images of Rodman at play -- and, occasionally, rest.
The collection of photographs will be released in a coming book.
In his cramped SoHo apartment, it's not hard for the 25-year-old Crothers to remain remarkably well-grounded in his approach to photography even after such heady assignments. A makeshift loft -- Crothers' bed -- hangs from the kitchen ceiling. There's no room for a bureau, so he keeps some of his clothing in some of the kitchen cabinets. On the walls hang some of his published black-and-white portraits, giving the tiny quarters the look of a disheveled fine-art gallery.
"People think that photographers come to New York, move into their SoHo loft and get paid $10,000 a day to shoot fashion models, that they jet around and all that," he said. "That's just not the way it is. It's a ton of hard work. It's a struggle."
Crothers attributes success at such a young age to persistence and hard work. He says his creative talent developed during his childhood in the small town where he was raised, Rising Sun.
"We lived in the country, so we didn't have cable," explained Crothers. "I didn't watch much TV growing up.
"My mom would buy tons of art supplies and have them around the house. It was a constructive way for her to keep her hyperactive kid occupied."