WESTMINSTER — After coming within a cat's whisker of making it to professional football and playing 13 solid years in the semi-pro ranks, Westminster's Wayne Liddick now enjoys sitting back and watching his four childrencompete.
And compete they do. The four -- Shane, Kym, Leslie and Margie -- all play at least two sports each with the same enjoyment and competitive spirit as their father.
"I feel I focused too much on sports and missed out on a lot of other things when I was younger," the senior Liddick said. "With my own children, I never pushed them into sports. They had to want it for themselves and are more well rounded because of it."
After graduating from Susquehanna (Pa.) University in 1968, Liddick, a quarterback, was first signed as a free agent by the Miami Dolphins in 1969 before being released a week before final cuts.
The next five years he played semi-pro ball for three different clubs in the Interstate Football League while getting tryouts with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1971 and the Chicago Bears in 1973.
"You have to be in the right place at the right time. I believe if I could have found the right team I could have played in the NFL," said Liddick, who played with the likes of Dick Butkus, Bob Griese and Larry Csonka.
After being cut by the Bears in 1973, he continued playing semi-pro ball, including a two-year stint in 1979-1980 with the Carroll County Chargers as player/coach, simply because he enjoyed playing.
He came back after a six-year layoff and finished his career playing two seasons with the Frederick Falcons in 1987-88.
"I'd do it all over again if I had the chance. I've made some great friends and had a lot of great experiences," said Liddick, who also was a teacher and wrestling coach at Westminster High before buying an insurance agency in 1986.
Now, Shane and Kym are competing at the varsity level at Westminster, while Leslie and Margie wait in the wings.
Shane, a senior who just finished his second year of varsity football under coach Jeff Oeming, is preparing for the upcoming lacrosse season this spring.
A tight end/linebacker on the gridiron, Shane plans to pursue lacrosse at the college level.
"I'm not really big enough to play college football,"said Shane, 6 feet and 185 pounds. "Right now, I'm looking to play lacrosse, possibly at Ohio State. They have a real good program with a new coach who came in last year and is rebuilding."
Shane, who began taking flying lessons two years ago at the Carroll County Airport, also is interested in Purdue University because of its flight program. Unfortunately, Purdue only has a club lacrosse team.
Kym, a junior, is a halfback in soccer, point guard in basketball and competesin hurdles and the high jump in track.
She notes the benefits of playing on team sports and also the individual aspect of track.
"In basketball, you have five players on the court and you have to count on everybody. In track, everything is up to you and you don't have to count on anybody else," Kym said.
Leslie is a sophomore at Westminster who plays basketball, track and soccer for the junior varsity. This past fall, she was the captain of the soccer team and enjoys being the team leader.
"Playing sweeper, I can see everything and can communicate. We had a lot of freshmen and with my experience I wasable to help them out knowing what was going on," Leslie said.
Margie is in the eighth grade at West Middle School and plans to play softball and basketball in high school.
"There is some pressure (being the younger sister of three athletes). Some people expect me to play up to their level. Playing with them all these years will make mea better athlete," Margie said.
The senior Liddick is proud of his children's accomplishments and views them all as individuals.
"Itry to acknowledge their individual strengths and don't consider them as a group but as individuals," he said.
"They've surprised me in that they seem to have good sports awareness. They are not particularly fast afoot and are fairly well-coordinated. What they may lack physically they make up for it with alertness and picking up thingsquickly," he added.
Wayne Liddick hopes his kids can use sports as a catalyst much in the same he has.
"I've taken it as a teachingtool. I feel they can learn a lot of lessons in the microcosm of sports," he said.
Leslie also notes the pressures of being sometimes overshadowed by the older athletes in the family.
"Having such good athletes (in the family) have put a lot of pressure on me. Dad really helps me out a lot and encourages me to work hard," she said.