Lacrosse tournament will honor `Okey' O'Connor


March 31, 1999|By Bonita Formwalt | Bonita Formwalt,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHEN MEMBERS of the Glen Burnie High School men's lacrosse team take the field Saturday for the school's first invitational tournament, their athletic endeavors will serve as a celebration of the memory of Claxton "Okey" O'Connor -- one of the sport's most ardent champions.

The faceoff of the first Okey O'Connor Lacrosse Tournament is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, with additional games at 7 p.m. and at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Mondaybetween the participating high school teams: Cardinal Gibbons, Chesapeake (Baltimore County), Palotti and host Glen Burnie.

Glen Burnie varsity coach Hank Schorreck sees the tournament as a belated opportunity to honor O'Connor for his contribution to the sport in the community.

After 30 years coaching at Boys' Latin in Baltimore, O'Connor came to Glen Burnie High, where he taught math and coached lacrosse from 1961 until his retirement in 1977.

In addition to his work with the school program, O'Connor helped start the East Glen Burnie Lacrosse youth league -- the only lacrosse feeder program in the north county area at the time.

In his sixth year coaching at Glen Burnie, Schorreck aims to resurrect the quality of the game as it was played during O'Connor's tenure.

He recalls his high school years playing at Friends School in Baltimore and going up against O'Connor's Boys' Latin team.

"Even then he had a reputation as a good coach," recalls Schorreck.

Les Ballard, a 1967 Glen Burnie graduate, reminisced about his years with O'Connor.

"That was a time when Glen Burnie's team was feared in this county," he noted. "He always put out a good team."

Part of that effort came from an Okey tradition -- the "circle lacrosse" game.

Using two teams of 6 to 8 players each, the players worked to shoot a goal through an untended basketball hoop turned on its side. The idea was to improve the team's shooting skills.

"We played circle lacrosse from September to March -- through rain, snow, sleet and hail," says Ballard.

Before he was a coach, O'Connor was a standout player for Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, playing on the 1925 and 1926 championship teams.

At St. John's College, he played on the 1930 national championship team.

After college, O'Connor worked to promote the sport through his work with the United States International Lacrosse Association, and in 1964 he was inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

After O'Connor's death in 1991, the East Glen Burnie lacrosse team folded, leaving Schorreck without a feeder system for his team.

He is hoping this tournament might be the spark that reignites community interest in a local youth-lacrosse association.

Admission to the tournament is $4, with proceeds benefiting the GBHS Athletic Boosters.

Information: the school at 410-761-8950 or tournament coordinator Dave Norfolk at 410-551-1622.

Reading incentive

Marley Elementary Principal Nina Griffith is hoping the good weather holds, as she literally rises to a challenge from her students in their annual reading-incentive program.

After her pupils have read more than 5,000 books since January, Griffith and her administrative trainee will climb to the top of the school's roof and act out the popular children's book, "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" -- while juggling stars.

Donna Redmond, Marley's reading resource teacher, said the program was in conjunction with Gov. Parris N. Glendening's reading project "Reading Across Maryland -- Be a Rising Star."

Each pupils who reads 10 books receives a bookmark as well as a certificate of participation from Glendening.

Car Club cruise

The Lost in the '50s Custom Car Club kicks off its "cruise" season from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at Sicily's Pizza, 2301 Dorsey Road.

Antique cars, street rods and custom autos and trucks from 1972 or earlier will be on display, as club members gather to listen to their favorite '50s music and share their interests with guests and members.

Information: Richard Mooney, 410-987-6613.

Egg hunt

Children ages 3 to 10 are invited to participate in an annual Easter Egg Hunt from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday on the grounds of Mariner Health of Glen Burnie, 7355 E. Furnace Branch Road.

Admission is free.

Information: 410-766-3460.

Pub Date: 3/31/99

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