Jerome Featherstone Sr. was happy that his son, a wrestler for Boys' Latin, was sick with a cold last weekend. Not that he was glad his son was ill, just that it was only a cold and not a side effect of Jerome Jr.'s bigger problem, a thyroid disorder called Graves' disease.
The Featherstones said Dr. William Valente of Mercy Medical Center, considered one of the nation's leading endocrinologists, first diagnosed their son as having the disease in mid-November. It is characterized by an enlarged thyroid, a rapid pulse and an increased metabolism.
Jerome Jr.'s symptoms - which include a weakened immune system, extreme weight and muscle tissue loss, fatigue and dizziness - have been stabilized, thanks to the medication tapazole to slow the thyroid. For the past six weeks, he has taken the medication three times daily, and he will be on similar medication for the rest of his life.
If left untreated, the disease can cause heart failure. Valente told the Featherstones that it was unusual for Jerome Jr., a 16-year-old sophomore who competes at 142 pounds, to have developed symptoms of the disease, which usually strikes older persons.
Former President George Bush has Graves' disease.
"Nobody in my family or my wife's family has ever had anything remotely close to it," said Jerome Sr.
Jerome Jr. is gaining weight and has more controlled breathing, but still experiences shortness of breath while wrestling. But he hasn't had any more close calls like the one in early December in the Dundalk Tournament finals, when he began fading and "wheezing" badly, according to his father, and had to default the match.
"When he started football season, he weighed 155, but at certification for wrestling, he had lost so much weight and muscle that he was certified to wrestle at 125," said his mother, Pam Featherstone. "He developed colds, asthma, and he basically stopped growing for about six months."
A much healthier wrestler takes an 18-5 record entering today's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association Tournament at Mount St. Joseph. Featherstone is the No. 3 seed after being last year's MIAA runner-up.
"Now I'm trying to lose weight to make weight," said Jerome Jr. "It's been a drastic change. I'm feeling a lot better. I'm still trying to work on my strength, but I'm getting my wind back."
Playing a tall game
Beth Tfiloh's Stacy Hollander stands just 4 feet 11 but plays a much taller game.
The junior point guard uses her speed, quickness and smooth shooting touch to average 20 points and 6.6 assists for the Warriors girls basketball team, which is 17-2 and favored in next week's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference tournament.
"Stacy is one of those leaders you can always depend on," said coach Sonya Howell. "She's only 4-11 but she's very talented. She's very quick and she can fake you out and she's fast as lightning."
Hollander easily blends her skills into a solid team, whose starting lineup also includes 5-10 guard Yael Levin (12 points, eight rebounds), 6-0 forward Lily Samet (eight points, six rebounds), 5-8 forward Michelle Lande and 5-9 guard Andrea Brem.
Good things happen
All-Metro guard Antoine Colvin, who signed with North Carolina State on Wednesday, has a refreshing take on his full scholarship commitment to play for the Wolfpack, along with the decision of Edmondson's All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year, Jason Murphy, to play at Virginia Tech.
"What's significant with me and Jason is that I can't remember the last time two guys from Baltimore signed with major Division I programs the same year," said Colvin, who will be academically eligible to play as a fully qualified freshman.
He will be honored by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame at the 38th Scholar-Athlete banquet March 6.