Laurel Ridge cyber team had successful competition

For Immediate Release:
March 29, 2021

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

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A cybersecurity team made up of Laurel Ridge students ranked in the top 50 among the more than 950 teams competing in the Fall 2020 National Cyber League (NCL) Competition.

Team captain D.J. Joachim likened the competition to a marathon, but with hacking. Each season has four rounds. Some rounds are just for individuals, and others for the team as a whole. Assistance can be sought from coaches in some portions, but not in others.

The individual and team games were each three days long, or “72 hours of straight hacking,” according to Joachim, who graduated in December with a degree in cybersecurity.

“Laurel Ridge’s team did phenomenally well,” he said. “There’s been so much development and growth through all of these extra-curricular activities. It’s amazing what you can learn.”

IT Professor Henry Coffman, who is the cybersecurity program manager, said the NCL provides scouting reports for each player. This scouting report is available to employees, who can refer to it when assessing prospective job candidates, Professor Coffman said.

“Students can use the scouting report to get a job,” he said. “It gives them great experience and knowledge of different realms within the cybersecurity industry. The competitions demonstrate a candidate’s thought processes, analysis, and the ability to figure things out. It shows that they’re willing to continue against the odds, and to analyze and try to find a solution to a problem.”

Professor Coffman also finds the reports helpful in showing him areas in which students may need additional help.

Joachim said the scouting report helped him get hired as cybersecurity threat analyst at Navy Federal Credit Union. He plans to continue his cybersecurity education at a German university once the pandemic allows for more travel. In the meantime, Joachim will prepare for the Offensive Security Certified Professional exam.

“I really can’t thank Dr. Coffman enough for pushing me to try harder,” Joachim said. “He’s the one who introduced me to the competitions and encouraged me to take the leap of faith. Also, Computer Science Professor Melissa Stange has been so incredible with her outside-the-box teaching style.”

Learn more about Laurel Ridge’s cybersecurity program at



Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected]173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.