Name: Ben H. Adkins
Job description: Recently began second year as president of AYRA Baseball Inc. (It's separate from the smaller AYRA Softball; both groups still use the acronym for Atholton Youth Recreation Association, which no longer exists as an entity.) AYRA Baseball has about 700 players, mostly boys but some girls, on 55 to 60 teams, with 175 to 200 coaches, plus other volunteers, and a budget of about $110,000. Teams start with tee-ball and go up in age to 15-17 travel. Seven travel teams. Organization draws from areas south of Columbia's Hickory Ridge and Kings Contrivance villages along U.S. 29, including Fulton, Scaggsville, Hammond Village and western Laurel.
Residence: Cherry Tree Farm, Laurel.
Personal: Native Virginian, grew up in Richmond. Virginia Tech alumnus, Vietnam War veteran (Army). Moved to Howard County in 1989. Communications consultant who retired from Bell Atlantic after 27 years. Five children.
Best part of AYRA Baseball presidency: "The opportunity to provide service to the community and to have a positive influence on children. My children came through AYRA, and what I've liked about this organization is that everyone gets to play. I played Little League when I was coming up, and only the best players got to participate; the rest sat. We want kids to play. A number of people don't realize there are leagues like that out there."
Group's biggest challenge: "Tapping into all the volunteers out there. Plenty of people are willing to help, but you have to ask, and then they do a great job. But that's something I'm still trying to get better about doing. I probably did too much myself the first year. But when I leave, I want to leave a better-organized system in place. Fields? We're OK for games, but like everyone in the county, we need better maintenance of what we have and, especially, more practice space."