Arundel postpones games, practices

Other jurisdictions play

decisions to be made on a day-to-day basis

October 16, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham and Pat O'Malley | Glenn P. Graham and Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Severna Park goalkeeper Scott McGuire was supposed to walk his parents onto the soccer field to celebrate Senior Night yesterday and then take on rival South River.

Instead, he helped friends with a yearbook assignment, studied for a marine biology test and then got an early jump on some college essays.

McGuire said he learned about 1:30 p.m. yesterday that all after-school activities in Anne Arundel County had been postponed because of the sniper shootings that have killed nine, injured two and altered daily life throughout the Baltimore and Washington areas for two weeks.

High schools in the Baltimore area played games as scheduled Monday. But after Monday night's deadly shooting in Falls Church, Va., Anne Arundel County yesterday decided to send its students straight home after school. The county's private schools followed suit, wiping out 34 varsity contests.

Baltimore City and County, as well as surrounding counties Howard, Harford and Carroll, continued to play.

"We're going day-to-day on this," said Anne Arundel County coordinator of athletics Marlene Kelly, who then went on to explain what has become the daily routine this month.

Kelly meets with Ken Lawson, assistant superintendent of county public schools, and other interested parties, and the feedback is then taken to the county superintendent, Eric Smith.

"He ultimately makes the decision whether we play or not," Kelly said. "Some of the feedback I've been getting from parents is to get back to normal. But then if we go that way, we have others saying they don't feel comfortable with their kids playing. I understand both sides of this, but we don't want to expose the kids, parents and fans to a dangerous situation."

One thing everyone agrees on - from the athletes to the parents to the coaches and on down the line - is that it's becoming more and more frustrating.

Broadneck junior cross country runner Lauren Centrowitz is trying to keep things as close to the same as possible, but it's difficult. Instead of running during practice with her team, she has to wait for her brother to come home because her parents won't allow her to run on her own.

"It's a lot harder. You have to make up your own workout and there's no coach to help push you, so you're constantly doing that yourself," Centrowitz said. "I'm not going to let him affect my everyday life - I think that's what he wants to do. So I'm just doing my regular thing and being safe about it. I think we've been giving in to him, but then again, I think we have to ... for now."

McGuire throws out an interesting question.

"What's the difference between last week and [yesterday]?" he said. "On Thursday, we played in the pouring rain, so it seems kind of pointless because there's no difference between then and now. Just when you think you're getting back into it, something happens again."

St. Mary's girls soccer coach Jerry Tobin hadn't seen his team for nearly two weeks until a practice session Monday. The Saints, two-time defending Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champs, already have canceled three games and must try to get four league games in by Tuesday.

And while St. Mary's, Archbishop Spalding and Severn - Anne Arundel's three private schools that compete in the IAAM and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association - have mostly been sitting, their league counterparts, mainly from Baltimore, have, for the most part, been playing and practicing.

"It's a big disadvantage," Tobin said. "It affects their touch on the ball, it affects their mentality and it affects their fitness. Whether we can ever get them focused again or how long it would take to get them focused is a big question."

And one can question whether it is safer to have athletes in controlled environments after school or outside on their own.

"I think that the cancellations are detrimental to our kids," said one parent, who asked not to be identified. "Safety is the No. 1 thing and I think my kids are more safe at school. Anne Arundel County is playing into the hand of the sniper and we are being held hostage."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.