Where lacrosse fields are the stuff of dreams

Youth program loses ground to play on even as it grows

Howard At Play

March 18, 2001|By Lowell E. Sunderland | Lowell E. Sunderland,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Lacrosse Program, which this spring is likely to sign up a record 1,500 players, up about 200 boys and girls from a year ago, is coincidentally experiencing a severe loss of playing fields the organization has relied on for years.

"Yeah, we're in a mess," said Kevin Campbell, longtime president of the lacrosse program. "But we are shifting around, and I'm sure we can handle it. We're going to fit everybody in - it's just inconvenient."

Fields at Harper's Choice and Dunloggin Middle schools and Dunloggin's neighboring Northfield Elementary - the latter two the core of the program's fields since its founding in the early 1980s - were taken out of service by the school system last fall to be plowed under and rebuilt. The process takes a year.

Campbell said all those fields will benefit from the work, noting that he refused to let teams play last spring at Harper's Choice because of poor conditions.

Compounding the group's problems, makeshift but level and grassy fields that have nicely served younger players behind the county Department of Education headquarters off Route 108 will be lost permanently next month, when work begins on a new alternative school.

When the school system opens fields shortly for spring sports, county youth lacrosse players will find themselves competing at as many as nine county locales, with maybe one or two to be added.

They will also find themselves competing for time and space with high school teams in a couple of areas.

Schools scheduled now include Patuxent Valley, Patapsco, Glenwood, Mount View, Oakland Mills and Clarksville Middle schools, Mount Hebron High and one field at Northfield Elementary.

Campbell said he is talking with the county Department of Recreation and Parks about additional access, possibly at Rockburn Branch Park, which has its own field-condition problems.

One of his group's biggest headaches, Campbell said, is unrelated - finding space in the rapidly growing western part of the county.

It's a plight unlikely to be addressed until, and if, Western Regional Park opens in 2003.

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