Two options being considered for volleyball facility

PLAYING AROUND

October 07, 2001

THE STRUGGLE by backers of the popular but homeless Volleyball House to find new space seems to have arrived at an important crossroads. That is particularly so, because realistic timelines to organize late fall and winter play are upon athletes and groups dedicated to volleyball and indoor soccer.

A new message on VBH's Web site last week boiled the group's frustrating, now months-old quest for a new home down to two options: Either a combined soccer/volleyball facility that could be ready as soon as next month, or a volleyball-only facility that would open in January with soccer following in the future.

"We expect to have news regarding a new location within just a few days," the message said.

Paul Mahaffy, who with wife Judith DeJong is one of the two key financial partners in Volleyball House, added in an interview: "The bottom line is that we are working hard to get the activity going again in one form or another by very early next year, at the latest. ... But negotiations on both fronts could still be a bit delicate, so I can't be too specific on either possibility."

Two potential new homes are on the table, each with its own set of challenges, he said. Both are in Howard County.

Mahaffy reiterated that he, his wife and other partners want to reopen and that their problems are not ones of athletes' interest; rather they're bundled with finding the right warehouse-type space at an affordable cost.

Volleyball House and Indoor Soccer Arena, the business' formal name, closed at the end of July after an 11-year run at a facility in Columbia's Gateway Center. Owners were full of optimism for a new, larger facility that they would build and open for play this winter.

But having to walk away from their preferred site because of unexpected environmental issues and the subsequent loss of some financial backing left the remaining partners and many hundreds of Howard and Anne Arundel County athletes, without a place to play volleyball or indoor soccer.

More generosity

Add the Howard County Striders to the list of sizable local donors to the American Red Cross's Relief Fund for victims of terrorism in New York, Washington and western Pennsylvania.

The Striders, at the behest of member Erin Phelps, raised more than $2,100 for the Red Cross through a charity run last weekend in Columbia's Jeffers Hill neighborhood, during which several county victims in the Pentagon attack were honored.

About 60 runners participated, and the club added a donation.

That makes two nice donations from county sports groups: the first, which we detailed two Sundays ago, totaled $5,250 from a two-day car wash and came from the Columbia Gymnastics Club.

Along the sidelines

Football: Members and alumni of the Howard County Trojans youth football organization are pulling for Darnerien McCants, drafted by the Washington Redskins and now third on the team's depth chart at wide receiver. The Delaware State and Arundel High alumnus was one of the Trojans' original midget-level players in the late 1980s. McCants, who played JV ball at Oakland Mills, had just one season of varsity football but made All-Anne Arundel County and second-team All-Metro.

Another sobering ripple effect from last month's terrorism appeared on the Web site of the Trojans, a Pop Warner youth football affiliate: A northern New Jersey league in the same organization lost 20 coaches in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.

Downhill: Ryan Harrigan, the Lime Kiln Middle School eighth-grader whose tryout for a berth in the U.S. national luge program we wrote about in February, had a dominant summer in his primary sport, soapbox car racing. He won 16 events in seven Pennsylvania towns and Westminster, qualifying as a finalist in next year's National Derby Rally championships in Saginaw, Mich.

Soccer: Round 1 of the Board of Appeals hearing last month on the Soccer Association of Columbia/Howard County's Covenant Park proposal provided one piece of insight into the club's workings and impact.

The organization revealed the number of its members from each ZIP Code, which showed that most players live in the greater Centennial area - right where the property on which SAC/HC wants to build 10 fields is located. Here's the breakdown:

ZIP Area Players

21042 Centennial 1,398

21044 W. Lake, Harper's Ch. 1,174

21043 Ellicott City 925

21045 O. Mills, L.Reach 883

21029 Clarksville 408

21046 K. Contrivance 335

20723 Fulton, Laurel 278

Others 650

Call the writer at 410-332-6525 or address e-mail to lowell.sunderland@baltsun.com.

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