Being a television star takes effort, girl discovers


June 03, 1999|By Diane Mikulis | Diane Mikulis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

TEN-YEAR-OLD Kristen Krammer knows that being a TV star isn't all glamour. Setting up the scenes takes time, and performing requires physical effort.

Kristen knows this because she was recently featured in a segment of the Disney Channel's new show, "Z-Games."

The Disney camera crew traveled to Woodbine to film Kristen and her friends demonstrating a soccer-based game that Kristen created and named "Challenge."

The girls are teammates on the Select travel team, part of the Western Howard County Soccer League Inc.

"Challenge" requires an odd number of players. One person is the goalie and the others are equally divided into two teams.

Players on each team are given matching numbers. For example, there is a number "one" on each team, a number "two," and so on.

The goalie calls out a number and rolls the ball into the center of the playing area. The two players with that number run onto the field and try to gain control of the ball.

They have 15 seconds to kick it past the goalie and into the net to earn a point for their team.

Kristen's father, Kurt, is the Select team's coach. During practice sessions, he puts the girls through different drills to improve their ball-handling skills. Kristen found one of the drills to be boring, so she changed it a bit -- and "Challenge" was born.

About a year ago, Kristen learned that the Disney Channel was looking for games made up by children to feature on a new show it was creating. She wrote in with a description of "Challenge."

Several months later, she received a response from Disney asking her for more information about her game. She sent it in and within a few weeks was notified that a Disney representative would visit to conduct a prescreening of the game.

Soon after that, Kristen received a phone call saying that the "Z-Games" camera crew would arrive the next week to shoot a segment for the show.

"I got really excited," Kristen said. "I didn't think it would go that far."

On the morning of the filming, Kristen, her family and teammates were nervous. The crew arrived at Kristen's home in Woodbine at 8: 30 a.m. to shoot footage of the 10-year-old with her mom, Mary Beth, her dad, her sisters, Kelsey and Kerry, and the family dogs.

Later, everyone moved to the soccer fields off Route 97 behind Bushy Park Elementary and Glenwood Middle schools. The rest of the team joined them there.

The girls played several games of "Challenge" as cameras shot footage from various angles.

At one point, Kristen was fitted with a "Z Cam" to get the scene from her perspective.

"I wore a backpack that weighed about 20 pounds," she explained. Wired into the backpack was a small camera, which was attached to her glasses.

In looking back on the whole experience, Kristen said, "It was kind of fun. But it took a long time to set everything up."

The show aired twice in May and for a week or so, Kristen was a celebrity -- especially at Bushy Park Elementary, her school. She received letters and phone calls from relatives who had seen the show.

Kristen's teammates -- many of whom were also on the show -- are Caitlin O'Neill, Erica Ryan, Alayna Markwordt, Jenna Markwordt, Kristen Paolucci, Sara Marshall, Julia Mehoke, Stephanie Sonnes, Jackie Corona, Julie Hollrah, Rachel Baker, Sarah Reis, Melissa Snyder, Alex Zajac and Amanda Taylor.

Mount View winners

Mount View Middle School PTA's Parent Teen Power committee has been awarded a $250 grant from J. C. Penney.

The money will be used for programs to teach parents how to discourage their children from experimenting with risky behaviors, such as smoking, drinking and using drugs.

According to committee chair Susan Bradley, Parent Teen Power's goal is to open lines of communication between parents and their children.

Mount View was one of 21 Maryland winners of the J. C. Penney Golden Rule Award, a program that rewards individuals and groups for volunteer service.

In other Mount View news, seventh-grader Ellen Tsay's visual arts entry won an honorable mention at the state level in the National PTA's Reflections arts competition.

Presenting the Grannies

The Junior Drama Club at West Friendship recently presented a musical called "The Granny Awards."

The performance by first- and second-graders was the culmination of a 10-week after-school program sponsored by the school's PTA. Nancy Paddy was the PTA coordinator for the project.

PTA President Mary Jo Neil reported that this was the first program of its kind at the school. She said she was extremely pleased with the way it turned out.

Glenwood resident Susan Kain ran the rehearsals and directed the production. Kain worked very well with the kids, Neil said, and the kids "did an excellent job because of her."

Featured in the show were Stephanie Buckner, Brittany Fields, Angela Fishbach, Hannah Goodman, Paula Hair, Ryan Hannah, Madison Hartman, Amy Hollingsworth, Emma Meade, Chloe, Meade, Kristen Miller, Zachary Neil, Meg Nicholl, Colton O'Donoghue, Christina Ritter, Melissa Robinson, Connor Roth, Katie Snyder, Jessica Starr and Kaitlyn Wendler.

Amanda Garratt, a student at Glenelg High School, was assistant to the director.

Picnic spots

What's your favorite picnic spot in western Howard County? Whether you spread your tablecloth and feasted there last weekend or a long time ago, we want to know where you go to enjoy the outdoors. Tell us what's special about your spot, where it is and, if you have photos, we'd like to see one.

Your replies will be featured in future columns. You can contact Diane Mikulis at 410-531-2887; fax, 410-531-7489; e-mail, Or send your reply by mail to 12681 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City 21042.

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