Season was short and brutal for Carroll football's first girl

August 15, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer Darren M. Allen contributed to this article.

A tackle, a fall and a ruptured pancreas ended the playing days for Carroll County's first female high school football player before the season officially started.

Since Tawana Hammond was injured in the August 1989 practice game, she has been involved in more scrimmages in the courts than she was on the gridiron.

Ms. Hammond has been tangling with the school and court systems about the responsibility of school officials to alert athletes to the hazards of the game.

In a $1.5 million lawsuit she filed against Carroll schools last August, Ms. Hammond claimed the school board did not adequately warn her or her parents about the dangers of high school football.

Ms. Hammond and her attorneys said in court documents that consent forms and meetings held to tell athletes about plays that could result in injuries were not enough to warn of the dangers.

The former Francis Scott Key High School fullback and safety said she didn't think about being injured after the meeting because the officials were telling the team about plays that "weren't going to be allowed."

"So if they don't allow something, then something can't happen," Ms. Hammond said in a deposition. "So you just don't think about it."

The Carroll County consent forms Ms. Hammond and her parents signed did not include warnings about the risks of serious injuries to athletes.

Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. dismissed her case June 25, saying the school board had no duty to warn Ms. Hammond of the "obvious" risks associated with varsity high school football.

Ms. Hammond, 20, declined to be interviewed for this article. Her attorney, William D. Kurtz, has appealed Judge Beck's decision.

Ms. Hammond had trained several weeks as a fullback and safety for the Francis Scott Key Eagles before the practice game Aug. 25, 1989, in which she was injured.

She was carrying the ball when she was tackled by a player from Brooklyn Park High School of Anne Arundel County.

When she fell on the knees or feet of one of the players, she appeared to have the wind knocked out of her.

The injury, however, was much more severe than it first appeared. She was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where doctors operated the next day and removed half her pancreas and her spleen. The injuries required four months' hospitalization and several operations.

Ms. Hammond was a track star at Francis Scott Key when she decided to try out for the football team in her junior year. The 5-foot, 7-inch, 130-pound student qualified for the team.

The appeal moves the case out of Carroll Circuit Court to Maryland's Court of Special Appeals.

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