3 counties postpone all games

Howard, Arundel, Harford call off after-school events

October 09, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Howard County high schools ended classes at 2 p.m. yesterday, and by 2:30 they were virtually deserted.

Howard was one of three Baltimore metropolitan area counties to cancel all after-school activities for the second straight day after the sniper shooting of a 13-year-old student Monday at a Prince George's County middle school.

Anne Arundel and Harford counties also called off their athletic events yesterday.

Games were played in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Carroll County.

Howard, postponing its athletic events and canceling practices for the third time in four school days since a series of eight sniper shootings began last Wednesday, moved its entire schedule yesterday of three boys soccer games, four girls soccer games and four field hockey games to today, forcing postponement of an eagerly awaited boys soccer game between No. 6 Dulaney and No. 2 Centennial.

Anne Arundel County also moved yesterday's events to today.

"Our building is empty. There are no students left at all," Glenelg athletic director Mike Williams said at 2:30 p.m. "There are still a few teachers, but in another 10 minutes it will just be me and the janitors."

Williams, like the other athletic directors in the counties who postponed events, was stuck with a lot of extra work rescheduling. But he wasn't complaining.

"I've spent three hours working on this," he said, "letting people know things are canceled, calling bus companies and other athletic directors, sending e-mails. It's an inconvenience, but it's better to be safe than sorry."

Williams, who also coaches girls soccer, is relatively unconcerned about the possibility of canceled events, and supports his superintendent's decision to postpone yesterday.

"He's got a lot of resources to tap into to make that decision," Williams said. "The worst scenario is fewer games, but who cares as long as the kids don't get hurt?"

He said that if push comes to shove, league games will take precedence over nonleague events. Glenelg has three nonleague events scheduled for Monday, and one on Tuesday that he must soon make decisions about.

Harford County also called off all games and practices for the second straight day. Forest Wiest, supervisor of athletics, said things there are day-to-day.

"The superintendent makes the decision whether to play after conferring with the office of safety and security and the police department," Wiest said. "It's possible we could lose some events completely, but I'm not sure yet. The athletic directors are still scrambling to keep things moving. Luckily, most of the events we have left are in-house [league] games, and we have more freedom to schedule with our own people."

In Baltimore City, a directive to all principals from chief academic officer Cassandra Jones told the high schools to proceed with their athletic contests yesterday, but asked that all trips outside the Baltimore area be canceled

The off-limits area includes Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George's counties and the District of Columbia. There were no Baltimore City teams scheduled to play in those areas this week, however.

Rick Diggs, Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference executive director, said that his member schools were on their own to decide whether to play yesterday.

Beth Ahern, executive director of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland, said no directive was issued to the 31 schools in the league, but that schools were free to postpone if they so desired.

In Baltimore County, events were on, but coaches were instructed to excuse any student who wanted to stay home.

"About 99 percent of the community is in favor of playing the games," said Ron Belinko, Baltimore County supervisor of athletics. "But we will have a strong police presence."

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