While most college spring breakers will head south for...

March 08, 1992|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff writer

While most college spring breakers will head south for warm, sunny Florida in the coming weeks, North Carroll High graduate Brian Stiff and the rest of the Western Maryland College football team have a little longer trip planned.

And, they'll be dressing warmly.

The Green Terrors will make history this month when they become the first U.S. college football squad to play in Russia.

Stiff is just glad to be going along for the ride.

"We're all very excited,"the freshman said.

"It's a dream that has come to reality and a great opportunity for all of us. I'm just glad to be a part of it."

The travel party will consist of 47 players, three coaches, 15 parents and other supporters. Assistant coach Mike Hamm coordinated the event with the help of International Sports Connection, which specializes in planning such trips.

Also taking part in the trip is anotherarea football player, Tim Michael of Mount Airy, a sophomore defensive back who graduated from Linganore High in Frederick County.

Thegroup will depart Dulles Airport in Virginia Friday evening and arrive in Moscow the following day.

The Green Terrors will have four joint practices with their Russian counterparts, the Euro-Asian Leagueall-stars, with the exhibition game slated for March 17 at Olympic Arena.

"From what I understand, they have six players from the Moscow Bears team (which no longer exist) and the rest are new to the program," Stiff said.

"I heard they are pretty big but don't have allthe techniques down yet."

Stiff, an 18-year-old freshman fullbackwho played three years of varsity ball at North Carroll, is looking forward to sharing his knowledge with the newcomers to the sport.

"Football is a great sport, and we're excited about sharing it with them and seeing them make something of it. They are still learning howto throw and catch the ball, and I'd like to teach them as much I can."

Dale Sprague, head coach at Western Maryland, agreed.

"We are absolutely thrilled and honored to represent the U.S. in this historic event," Sprague said. "Our student-athletes are not only excitedto compete against the Russians, but also to work with them during the joint practice sessions."

The Green Terrors got their pads backon Wednesday and have several practice sessions scheduled on campus leading up to the trip. They had three sessions scheduled last week, and plan to practice again tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday.

"It felt good getting back on the field," Stiff said.

"We are reviewing some plays and just fine-tuning things with drills. Things are going great, and we're ahead of schedule."

The Green Terrors had to get special permission from the NCAA to conduct spring practices, which are usually not allowed at small Division III (non-scholarship) schools.

But football is not the only thing on the agenda during the team's stay in Russia.

A healthy dose of sightseeing is planned throughout the week in Moscow, including visits to the Kremlin and the Moscow Circus.

"I'm looking forward to getting to know their way of life," he said.

"From what I've heard, they really treat Americans well, and it's quite a experience for them to see an American."

All the players were responsible for raising a portion of the costs. The total coast of the package was about $1,800 per person.

Along with pizza sales and raffles, Stiff took a part-time job at a grocery store and got some help from his parents.

"I have to thank my parents who were able to help me out," he said.

"They're excited, a little nervous and felt it was a great opportunity."

With passport inone hand and suitcase in the other, the days are counting down, and soon Stiff and his fellow Green Terrors will be making history -- scoring touchdowns in Moscow.

ITINERARY FOR WMC TRIP TO RUSSIA

ITINERARY FOR WMC TRIP TO RUSSIA

* March 4-6 and 9-11: Late afternoon practices at WMC

* March 13: Early afternoon departure from WMC campus for Dulles Airport; depart Dulles (Air France flight No. 104) at 6:35 p.m.

* March 14: Arrive at DeGaulle Airport in Paris at 8:20 a.m.; depart DeGaulle (Air France No. 2982) at 11:45 a.m. with arrivalat Sheremetyveo-II International Airport in Moscow at 5:20 p.m.; remainder of day and evening at hotel

* March 15: Either trip to Zagorsk (capital of Russian Orthodox Church) or visit to Izmaylovo Park; joint practice with Russian players at 5 p.m.

* March 16: Morning sightseeing in Moscow; joint practice with Russian players at 5 p.m.

* March 17: Morning excursion to Kremlin and its museums; exhibition with the Euro-Asian League "All-Stars" at the Olympic Arena at 7 p.m.

* March 18: Morning and afternoon visits to museums and galleries; evening visit to the Moscow Circus

* March 19: Morning visit to Arbat Street and State Shopping Center; joint practice and clinic with Russian players at 3 p.m.; farewell dinner at hotel at 8 p.m.

* March 20: Departure from hotel at 5:30 a.m. for 8:30 a.m. flight from Sheremetyevo-II Airport; arrive at DeGaulle Airport at 10:30 a.m.; depart DeGaulle at 1:05 p.m. with arrival at Dulles at 3:55 p.m. (Air France flight No. 015)

Information: 857-2291.

WMC TEAM PREPARESFOR HISTORIC JOURNEY

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