Owings Recalls Growth Of Softball League


April 24, 1991|By Mike Nortrup

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since 1969, when Ray Owings took over as president of the Westminster Jaycees girls' softball program.

Now, his tenure at the helm also has passed under that bridge.

At the conclusion of last season Owings advised Jaycees officialshe would not return as president.

His daughter, Steffanie, had finished her last year in the program, and Owings himself felt he "wanted to do something new. I was stagnating."

That "something new" iscommissioner of the Carroll County Men's Softball League, a job he took over this year.

John McLain, a nine-year veteran of the Westminster Jaycees program, succeeds Owings as president.

Owings lives just outside Westminster near the Carroll County Sports Complex, where the men's league plays most of its games. He will run the affairs of a 32-team loop, which has 450 to 500 players.

This is a far cry from the kind of operation he took over so long ago, during the summer of Woodstock.

The previous year, 1968, the Westminster Jaycees had started softball because there was a lack of summer recreation opportunities for girls.

The 1968 league was much smaller than the huge operation that serves some 360 girls now.

That loop, which played at West Middle School, had only 60 players and four teams.

Owings, who owned a building company at the time, sponsored and coached one team.

"It was called the Angels. I think we won (the league) that year," he recalls.

The following year, he took over as league president.

He also continued to coach the Angels for eight years until "the program got so big I had to concentrate on running the thing."

It quickly outgrew West Middle and in 1972 moved to East Middle. In the 1980s, it relocated to its current home at the Jaycees Park.

As president, Owings handled the gamut of chores in running the league, including scheduling, ordering equipment and uniforms, arranging for umpires and, many times, preparing the fields.

Then came the hundred or so telephone calls per week that he and his wife, Judy,made to coordinate things.

But he says his most onerous chore wasfinding team coaches, an increasingly exasperating problem as the league grew.

"A lot of people don't want to take the responsibility," Owings said. "Volunteerism isn't as good it used to be."

Despitethose frustrations, he has many pleasant feelings about those 21 years, the first being the satisfaction gained from providing recreational opportunity for the girls.

He also watched seven all-star teamsfrom the Jaycees program play well enough at state and regional tournaments to appear at national championship competitions.

He also enjoys the satisfaction of having former players bring daughters into the program.

He still is involved with the Jaycees as a member of its board of directors.

"I'd never give that up," he said. "I don't want to be too directly involved in the day-to-day decisions, but Iwant to be involved in the decisions."


In another changing of the guard, this one in the North Carroll rec council's basketball program, Jeff Bradford has stepped down after six years as basketball coordinator.

"It's been a little too hectic schedule, seven days aweek for four months," Bradford said.

But over the years, his wife, Connie, had helped a great deal, running the game clocks and assisting with paperwork. She assumed even more of the burden this year when his decision to referee high school basketball took him away fromthe rec program more than ever before.

In his absence, she also helped with scheduling and making up the teams that compete in that in-house league.

Jeff said he took the coordinator's job in the fallof 1985, after being asked to do so by then outgoing coordinator Bill Deltuva.

At that time, Bradford was coaching in the rec council's baseball program but wasn't involved in basketball. But he quickly learned the ropes.

Connie said the most rewarding aspect of coordinating the basketball program job was watching the players improve during the season.

Jeff said he "wants to take it easy for a while and watch."

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