Jaycees softball goes full-circle Westminster's 25th season wraps up

June 23, 1993|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

It began with a community survey in 1967.

The Westminster Jaycees conducted a poll and found the Carroll County community wanted more recreation for girls. An all-weather airport and charter government also ranked high on the list.

The airport came eventually, the charter government has come close in recent years, but the Westminster Jaycees' softball program began in 1968.

"We started with 60 girls and four teams," said Ray Owings, who was a coach the first year and program president for the next 22.

"It was $7 [per player] for registration and we had team sponsors for all four teams. It doubled the next year and within four years we had around 500 girls playing."

The program will wrap up its 25th season with its annual "end of season" double-elimination tournament beginning tomorrow. All 30 in-house teams will compete in the three age divisions -- bantam (7-10), ponytail (11-13) and junior (14-16).

"It's fun to see girls who played back then mothers now and having girls playing in the program now," said Owings.

The program played its games at West Middle School for the first three years before moving to East Middle School when Judge Dulaney Foster donated land to the city specifically for the program in 1975. Westminster Jaycees Park off Uniontown Road has been the program's home since.

Registration has climbed to $30 to help pay for league insurance, American Softball Association-sanctioned umpires (for the first 15 years the program had volunteer umpires) and equipment.

In the early days of the program, softball was the only sport offered to girls. Despite the popularity and growth of lacrosse, field hockey, basketball and other sports, the Westminster Jaycees softball program remains one of the most popular of all.

"It's grown at our maximum for the [three] fields we have," said first-year president Ed Henry.

"Two years ago, we had 130 more players than the previous year and this year we have 100 new players to the program. The general growth of the area over the last five years has helped and also girls are getting more involved in sports knowing there are a lot of opportunities to get college scholarships."

The program has had its share of success on the field with two state championships, countless regional titles and at least a dozen national tournament appearances, Owings said.

John McLain, the program's president the two years prior to Henry and a member of the board of directors for the past 15, said, "The program has a real family-type atmosphere. We make a lot of people real comfortable at the park. It's a competitive league but having fun still comes first."

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