March Mania Tournament initiates Howard youth soccer

Howard At Play

March 19, 2000|By Lowell E. Sunderland

SPRING YOUTH SOCCER gets under way in earnest this weekend with, 14 teams of Under-9s and U-10s from Columbia playing in the second annual Columbia March Mania Tournament in Laurel.

This event for short-sided teams, seven players to a side, involves 32 teams and is being conducted in conjunction with the Laurel Boys and Girls Club. Each team will play a minimum of three 25-minute games at Laurel's Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School off Route 197.

Columbian Rita Sallam, registrar for Soccer Association of Columbia-Howard County (SAC-HC), founded the tournament last spring and is its director.

The Columbia entries are travel-level teams, Sallam said, seeing their first action of the spring.

"We started this for the younger kids," she said, "because they have so few options at this time of year, before league play opens."

Older travel teams have other options, she said, including a curtain-raiser tournament in Richmond, Va.

One fun wrinkle: The eight teams in each March Mania championship round face a tie-breaker that puts a premium on skill -- overtime with no goalkeepers and teams shrunk to five players.

SAC-HC, seeking to strengthen its girls program, particularly in the older age brackets, has hired Michele Rodriguez-Smith as girls coaching director. The Laurel-area resident stepped down as George Washington University's women's coach after last season.

With about 6,000 youngsters playing this year, SAC-HC is the largest single youth sports organization in the county. It's second in size in that sport only to Montgomery (County) Soccer Inc., which has about 15,000 registered players, roughly 10,000 at the rec level.

HCYP needs mound person

Know how to build a pitching mound and rake a ball diamond, and need work? The Howard County Youth Program wants to talk with you about a job paying about $23,000 a year.

HCYP is unique among county youth organizations in that it has its own 13-diamond baseball and softball complex at Kiwanis-Wallas Field off Route 144, south of U.S. 40. Howard County's recreation department owns the complex, though HCYP does its turf and playing-surface maintenance.

Volunteers help, but HCYP president Howard Carolan says the organization needs a knowledgeable person to direct the effort.

The successful applicant will know about tractors, seed and moving dirt, as well as understanding baseball's requirements. Information, 410-750-8754.

Conversation fodder

Here's a number to noodle with: $36.9 million.

That's how much Howard Countians spend annually on recreational sports, market researchers at Claritas Corp. in Arlington, Va., calculate.

The figure includes $10.8 million in fees for participant sports, $10.3 million for lessons plus $15.8 million for equipment, including uniforms, T-shirts, shoes, bats, balls, gloves, balls, sticks, rackets, protective gear and exercise equipment ranging from machines to weights.

The dollars climb $10.7 million higher if you add individual forms of recreation such as archery, cycling, shooting, hunting, fishing, skiing, snowboarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing and camping.

Tip us off

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