Western Howard football ready to kick off in the fall

PLAYING AROUND

Howard At Play

January 27, 2002

IT'S STILL JANUARY, which in youth sports terms is eons away from another football season, but a new county football club that wants to begin play this fall is taking shape, claiming paid registrations from 150 players.

The Western Howard County Wolfpack will become the fifth county youth football club, the others being the Columbia Bulldogs, the Howard County Trojans, the Columbia Community Church Warriors and the Howard County Bruins, a club for boys exceeding typical youth football age-weight limitations that began competing last fall.

The Wolfpack's president is Glenwood's Dan McCabe, partner in a Baltimore commercial construction business, who played the sport in high school in Indiana.

McCabe said he is one of six men who began about six months ago considering a new Howard County club after Sykesville's youth football group limited next season's registration to Carroll County residents.

Sykesville's policy was revised because of growth in southern Carroll County, said McCabe, who had been coaching in that organization.

"Coaching there was a terrific experience - it's a good organization," he said. "But we knew we had kids in the western county interested in playing" because they were on teams in Winfield, also in Carroll County, as well as Olney in Montgomery County and Columbia. "With the growth of population here, we knew the time had come to put together our own program."

For starters, the county Department of Recreation and Parks is handling Wolfpack registration and other administrative matters.

For information, call 410-313-4706. Early sign-ups, McCabe said, resulted from circulars distributed at Lisbon and Bushy Park elementary schools and Glenwood and Mount View middle schools.

The number of age-group teams the Wolfpack will field in mid-August and league participation is being worked out, McCabe said.

He and other backers also are weighing whether to affiliate with the Pop Warner national football organization or travel an independent route, as some youth leagues do. The Warriors and Trojans are Pop Warner affiliates locally.

He said the club expects initially to practice at Marriottsville's Mount View Middle School and play at either Schooley Mill or Cedar Lane parks. But when the new Western Regional Park opens in Glenwood in two years, operations would shift there.

"Rec and parks, and especially Mike Milani there, are being an incredible help to us," McCabe said. "The interest they've taken, as well as interest from kids and parents, has exceeded our expectations."

That northern high school

Speaking of Mount View Middle School's fields, the midmonth school board hearing over a new "northern" high school proposed for Marriottsville was buried, if not ignored, by reporters mired in high school redistricting.

But public school officials' initial plans for "Northern" were roasted, and one big reason was what opponents said is a site way too small - about 31 acres vs. the 43-plus called minimum in the school system's documents - to allow for, among other things, practice fields for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse.

Naturally, that didn't deter board members from unanimously approving the site, albeit with an asterisk - try finding a better site.

Let's pray that happens because planning for the Marriottsville site can't be called anything else but oblivious, at multiple levels, to community needs. For sports, it calls for high school players on 10 teams (varsity and JV squads for girls and boys in soccer and lacrosse, as well as girls in field hockey) to cross narrow Woodford Drive and use Mount View's, count 'em, three fields.

The problem, as a number of residents told board members, is that Mount View's fields already are being chewed up by youth sports teams, not to mention spring and fall practices by some Mount Hebron High teams bused there from their Route 99 school.

Our Department of Hmmm continues in highest dander. If 38-year-old Mount Hebron's acreage is too small for its teams, then why would an even smaller site be logical for a new high school? Hmmm? And have planners offered an alternative for youth groups, hmmm? Nope. Hmmm!

No wonder youth sports leaders, who view their work being in large part educational, are irritable.

All of which illustrates why the aborning sports council described elsewhere on this page today 1) really needs to happen and 2) must include schools - and not just the system's community services director. He's an affable, staff-level guy with one helper for the excruciating job of booking literally thousands of events for school fields, gyms and other spaces.

But sooner, not later, a school policymaker, someone with overview and influence, must get in tune with the needs of youth sports, which rely on school facilities.

Isn't anyone in charge on Route 108-west listening?

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

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