Old Mill senior Vytas Dulys says he always wanted to play field hockey. And with the first day of fall tryouts taking place yesterday, hefigured "Why not?"
Dulys and two male classmates with a similar notion were given a sound reason.
Shortly after returning home from the three-hour morning practice, Dulys received a phone call from Old Mill coach Jo Funk informing him that the trio could not try out for the exclusively female team.
Funk met with principal Mary Gable and assistant athletic director Bruce Lawton after the practice to voice her concerns over the situation. Athletic director Jim Dillon is on vacation.
"I was kind of expecting something to happen, but not the first day of practice," said Dulys, who was joined by senior Matt Sasser and junior Rick Olezczsuk.
"I would have rather been able to practice and then get cut. At least I would have been able to try out.
"To tell you the truth,I wouldn't even mind if they just let me practice with them so that I could get my skills down."
Sasser also received a phone call from Funk, while Olezczsuk, who did not immediately return to his house,heard the news from the others.
Shortly after the practice ended,Funk said, "They were here and that's all I'm going to say."
Olezczsuk said they would attend this morning's practice and meet with Gable later in the day "and see what she says."
"We don't want to cause a lot of havoc, but we still want to play," he said.
Gable could not be reached for comment.
A similar situation took place at Annapolis in 1986, when Matt Abruzzo and Norm Stapleton attempted to join the Panthers field hockey team.
But they fell victim to the same Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association rule that discourages male athletes from competing on a female team.
The rule, originally created to provide additional opportunities for female athletes to compete, states: "Students may not be excluded on the basis of sex from overall equal opportunity to participate in athletic programs. If a school sponsors a team for members of the opposite sex, and before July 1, 1975, overall opportunities for members of the excluded sex have been limited, the excluded sex shall be allowed to tryout for the team."
Because more "athletic opportunities" were available to males before July of 1975, they are not protected by this rule.
"Since the rule was written, we pretty much have enough sports offered for girls. It really doesn't apply that much anymore, except for a few isolated cases," said Edward "Ned" Sparks, executive secretary of the MPSSAA.
"All the other schools are planning to play an all-girls field hockey team, not a co-ed field hockey team," said Paul Rusko, the retired county coordinator of physical education and athletics. Rusko still is continuing in his position until a replacement is found.
Dulys, a 112-pound wrestler and gymnast at Old Mill, said the lack of a male field hockey program left he and his friends with no other choice.
"I wish we had a guys field hockey team, butwe don't. If they did, I wouldn't go out for the girls team," he said.
"How's a guy supposed to learn how to play the game without a team?"
Long-time Severna Park coach Lil Shelton said, "I'll give the guys names and numbers of people to call if they want to play in a boys field hockey league.
"I'm not against guys wanting to play field hockey, but I still have to question their motives," she said. "The girls need a sport that they can compete in without having to compete with a guy for a position.
"Field hockey is not a brute, physical sport, but rather a finesse sport. If guys want to play field hockey they should pursue a team and play at their own physical level."
Dulys said most of the Old Mill players thought the boys were joking. "Some of the other girls, though, know that we're serious and they're glad we're doing it."
Old Mill junior Amy Cox is among those not bothered by the boys' attempt to make the team. "They've always come to our games and they've been really supportive," she said.
"Ididn't believe them at first when they came out, but once I saw themout there I thought it was great. I was behind them all the way. I was surprised that the coaches didn't even let them try out, and I'm kind of upset."
Last year, the Cecil Whig reported that Bohemia Manor senior
Bob Abbott became the first male in the state to play a female-dominated high school sport when he was placed on the Eagles' field hockey roster.
Abbott, who donned a kilt and a jersey with No. 17, received the go-ahead in a special meeting of the Cecil CountyBoard of Education.
"Based on all of the available information, we just decided that there was no legal basis for prohibiting the boy to play," Robert L. Poole, supervisor of Cecil's interscholastic sports programs, said in an article last season.
However, Abbott was not allowed to participate in the playoffs, and teams refusing to playBohemia Manor during the season were not given a forfeit.
Dulys said he was not planning any immediate legal action.
"I'm pretty upset and would like to appeal," he said, "but by the time the appeal goes through, cuts will already have been made, so it's not going to help. The only thing we can do is help some other guys who want to play in the future."
Staff writer Steven Kivinski contributed to thisstory.
Staff writer Steven Kivinski contributed to this story.