Ivey League Instructors

Master Danny Ives

Owner

I started my mix martial arts journey a long time ago back in Philly, when I was about 10 years old. I grew up in a pretty rough part of the city, a place where street fights and violence were a part of everyday life.

I was obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and thought that martial arts were so cool. I begged my mom to sign me up for Karate classes at the local rec center. She agreed and my life was forever changed. The moment I threw my first kick I was hooked. I knew this was for me.

Training in the Martial Arts gave me a sense of purpose, a reason to get out of bed in the morning. While other kids I knew in the neighborhood fell into the same old traps that bad areas set, like drugs and crime, martial arts kept me on the right track.

I started out with Karate, then soon moved on to Boxing and Kickboxing. When I watched my first UFC Event that’s when I discovered MMA and the art of Brazilian “Gracie” Jiu Jitsu.

I loved MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and because of this, I trained very hard and tried to be the best I could be. As a way to challenge myself further, I started to compete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Grappling tournaments as often as possible. I did very well, winning almost all major BJJ/Grappling competitions in the United States including the prestigious Pan American Games in 2001.

Around the same time I was experiencing lots of success competing I’d also started to teach some MMA classes on the side. I took up teaching martial arts mostly for fun and extra money, money I needed to help pay for travel and training in places like Brazil, California and Mexico City.

I didn’t know it at the time but I found out I had a passion for teaching MMA. I really enjoyed teaching others what I’d learned. I enjoyed seeing them learn the techniques and at the same time get better. I even had one student make it all the way to the UFC and win, that was pretty cool.

So between teaching, fighting in MMA and competing in BJJ tournaments I kept quite busy. But no matter how busy I became I never lost sight of my long term goal:Opening my own mixed martial arts school.

The question then became: Where would I open this MMA Academy at?
One thing lead to another and when it was all said and done, I ended up in Annapolis Maryland. I’d actually come to Annapolis to watch the Navy vs. Lehigh Wrestling meet. I’d never been to this part of Maryland and I was impressed at how nice it was. I asked some of the locals if they knew of any places or gyms that taught MMA classes. They told me that there wasn’t anything like MMA in the area at all.

That’s all I needed to hear. The following day I drove up to Baltimore and did the paperwork, Ivey League MMA was born. I opened Ivey League Mixed Martial Arts in March of 2008 and never looked back.

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with so many great people, people of all walks of life.
I’m proud to call Annapolis my home and the home of Ivey League. I honestly can’t imagine us being anywhere else but here.

Some of Master Danny’s Accomplishments Include:

  • Undefeated Professional MMA Fighter
  • 2001 Pan Am Gold Medalist in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
  • 25x NAGA Grappling Champion
  • 3x Grapplers Quest Champion
  • 3x NAGA Superfight Champion,’98,’02,’03
  • Victory at Valley Forge Superfight Champion, ’03
  • Grapplemania Champion, ’03
  • Mission Submission Champion ’07
  • Midwest Grappling Classic Superfight Champion ’09
  • California Open BJJ Champion, ’99
  • Pennsylvania Open BJJ Weight Champion, ’98
  • NYC Grappling Open Champion, ’99

Coach Naomi

Head Kids Instructor

Coach Naomi spent her entire childhood doing sports of all kinds, including Track and Field, Field Hockey, and Softball. She’s always loved competitive athletics and the challenges they bring both physically and mentally.

Her martial arts journey started after her dad talked her into trying a class at Ivey League. She was hooked ever since that day.

As a competitor on the mats, she’s won gold at a number of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu/Grappling Tournaments like the IBJJF NY OPEN, NAGA, New Breed and Grappling Industries.

On top of athletics, Coach Naomi was an excellent student who excelled in school, and just recently graduated from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD with a Bachelor degree in Art. She believed in order for a child to have a strong body first they’ve got to have a strong mind.

Naomi was named Ivey League Kids Program Director in 2018. Since that time has produced multiple champions in various Grappling/BJJ competitions, most notably a gold medalist at the IBJJF US Nationals in Las Vegas.

When it comes to working with kids, she had this to say:

“While I love to train and compete, my true love is teaching kids! There isn’t anything more fulfilling than helping a child grow in this sport. Nothing brings me more joy than watching them go from timidly attempting a move on day one to executing it a month later with absolute confidence!”

Accolades:

Gold, Silver, Bronze Medalist in New York Open
Silver Medalist D.C. Open
7x NAGA Gold Medalist

Coach Rickey Lawrence

Kickboxing Coach

Coach Rickey began his martial arts training under Master Lynette Love at Love’s Taekwondo Academy.

It was there that he fostered his love of martial arts it was also there that he received his 1st degree Black Belt at the age of nine.

Throughout his time in training he won numerous Taekwondo titles and even advanced to his third Degree Black Belt.

He would apply and eventually get accepted into Norfolk State Universities highly accredited business program.

It was during his time in college that his sister and fellow instructor Coach Bebe would begin to excel at kickboxing winning the 2010 Wka National and World Titles and thus pushing him head first into the sport.

It was during his time spent training with his sister that he met Kru Jose Villarisco. Later that year Kru Jose would move back to Virginia Beach and open OutFox Mixed Martial Arts Academy and it was there the he began to truly take the Sport of Muay Thai seriously and begin his training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as well.

During the years of 2010-2012 coach Rickey balanced training, competition, and continuing his education at Norfolk State University eventually graduating in December 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Business and Entrepreneurship.

Coach Rickey recently began a government job in Maryland which is how he came to us here at Ivey League MMA on Master Danny’s recommendation.

Accolades

Taekwondo:

  • 5 time Maryland State Champ
  • 2 time 4th place finisher Junior Olympics
  • 4 time Captains Cup Champion Muay Thai
  • 2012 WKA Nationals 3rd Place Finisher
  • 2013 WKKO Runner Up

Coach Alex Ward

Wrestling/No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu

Coach Alex Ward comes to Ivey League with a long list of accomplishments in the sport of Wrestling. His Wrestling classes have helped everyone from the professional fighter to the novice student become successful using takedown skills from the art of Wrestling.Learn more about Coach Alex from the man himself:
“I started wrestling when I was 9 years old as a member of the Navy Junior Wrestling team based out of the USNA wrestling room. I was fortunate to be coached by Wayne Hicks (NCAA Runner-Up for Navy) and my father, Kelly Ward (NCAA Champion for Iowa State). Having such knowledgeable coaches at such a young age taught me how important technique is in wrestling. I went on to wrestle at Mt. St. Joseph High School in Baltimore and then at the University of Nebraska.”

Below you’ll find just a few of his many competitive accomplishments and coaching experience.

High School:

Maryland State Champion, 2x Finalist (placements of 3rd-2nd-1st).
3x National Prep Tournament place-winner.
3x MIAA Conference Champion.
3x Freestyle and 3x Greco-Roman Maryland State Champion.
Member of 3 State Championship teams at Mt. St. Joseph High School (’03, ’04, & ’05).
2004-05 MSJ team won the prestigious Powerade Christmas Tournament in Pennsylvania (defeated the eventual PA AAA & VA AA State Champions).

College:

Wrestled for the University of Nebraska from 2006-2010.
3-year Varsity Letterwinner.
Member of 2009 Big 12 Championship team.

Coaching Experience:

Assistant Coach at Mt. St. Joseph High School (Baltimore, MD) 2013-14.
Coached 2 State Champions, 1 State Runner-Up, and 1 National Prep Champion.
Team finished 3rd in the MIS State Tournament and 5th at National Preps.
Assistant Coach at St. Mary’s High School (Annapolis, MD) 2012-13.
Assistant Coach at Bullseye Wrestling Club (Annapolis, MD) 2009-2013.
Assisted in running a wrestling club for local high school and college wrestlers.

Coach Keith Cebula

Head BJJ Instructor

Coach Keith began his Jiu-Jitsu journey in December of 2006. Along the way, he’s won medals at a multitude of Adult/Masters tournaments, both regional and grand slam. In his free time, Coach Keith likes to skateboard and play video games. However, he’s said that if he could, he would be with his family and train BJJ all day long. When he’s not training or teaching, Coach Keith works for a company that builds model trains.

Accolades:

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt
2016 Brown Belt Masters World Gold Medalist (Masters 2)
2011 Blue Belt World Bronze Medalist (Adult)
Multiple International Open Titles at Purple Belt & Brown Belt