County, youth group huddle up for new Elkridge football program

PLAYING AROUND

Howard At Play

January 26, 2003|By LOWELL E. SUNDERLAND

YOUTH FOOTBALL seems about to expand, again, in Howard County - this time in Elkridge.

The county's Department of Recreation and Parks and the Elkridge Youth Organization are putting the final touches on an agreement that should see new youth teams from the eastern side of the county competing this fall.

Essentially, EYO will help with fund raising and getting volunteers. Making schedules, securing fields, providing equipment and doing all the other administrative stuff will be coordinated by the rec agency.

The new club was announced by rec department sports co- ordinator Mike Milani, who last year was instrumental in providing county support for another start-up youth football club, the Western Howard County Warhawks. Starting from scratch, the Warhawks entered its first season with a surprising 312 players.

Hanover's George Wilkinson, recently elected as EYO's new president, said the idea was broached a year ago but started to come together just before Christmas.

"We're hoping to have about 125 to 150 players to start," Wilkinson said, "and I expect that we'll have something of a rough start. But the Elkridge area already has a lot of players who are committed to programs in Catonsville, Arbutus and Columbia, none of which are that far away."

Between $35,000 and $50,000 will be needed as start-up expenses, he estimated, and EYO will try to accomplish that through sponsorships, as well as fund-raisers.

The new teams, said Wilkinson, 47, who has three children in EYO and is coaching basketball this winter, are expected to use Ellicott Mills Middle School fields for practices and, maybe, Bonnie Branch Elementary School for games.

Inquiries about playing for the new Elkridge club can be made to the Department of Recreation and Parks, 410-313- 4700.

The new football effort in Elkridge will be the second for that community, vastly different now from what it was in the early 1970s, when youth teams last played there. EYO at the time had its own field, which was lost to flooding caused by Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972.

Most of the Warhawks teams, the still-to-be-named EYO teams, the Trojans and the Columbia Community Church Warriors will all compete again, Milani said, in the Central Maryland Football and Cheerleading Association. That league also was new last year.

The oldest of the county's youth football programs, the Columbia Bulldogs, will continue its affiliation with a Carroll County league.

Along the sidelines

Running: Mick Slonacker, president of the Howard County Striders, has been elected eastern director of the Road Runners Club of America, an Alexandria, Va.-based group with 700 affiliated clubs and about 200,000 members.

Slonacker will continue his Striders job but broaden his knowledge of, mainly, Southeastern running as RRCA's representative for clubs from Maryland and West Virginia, all the way south to Florida.

Soccer: We dropped in at Soccer Dome one night last week, our first visit to the new Jessup indoor soccer arena with a playing schedule going on. The Montevideo Road facility was humming.

Simultaneous men's league games occupied the two larger fields, with a lot of American English and Korean, less Spanish and a smattering of Caribbean and/or African English audible - enough accents to reaffirm any fan's appreciation for the sport as, truly, an international experience.

On the facility's small field, suitable for 4-on-4 games and warm-ups, a Blast player was running high school players through some intense work as part of a soccer academy program.

One conversation-maker: Which of the two larger fields was preferable - the one with hockey dasher boards or the one without 'em?

The boardless field, of course, eliminates that "human pinball" dimension of American indoor soccer, better replicating the outdoor game - and it is a new wrinkle for indoor players in Central Maryland.

Your suggestions about interesting teams and people involved in winter sports are welcome, and in fact, solicited. Call the writer at 410-332-6525 or send e-mail to lowell. sunderland@baltsun.com.

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