Rundown facilities about to get boost

Superintendent proposes $1.14M to renovate track, tennis courts at 5 schools


High Schools

February 09, 2003|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

South Carroll athletic director Jim Horn can hardly fathom a riskier place to hold a track and field meet than at his school's facility. The stadium track in Winfield features an unforgiving surface with grass growing through numerous cracks, and nary a line to be found.

"Other schools do not want to run here," Horn said. "It's caused us a lot of shin splints. It's just like going out and running on the road. We'd have kids occasionally wear spikes to run on it, and all you could see were sparks flying up. It's just dangerous."

Under a new Carroll County plan, however, that could change by this summer. Schools superintendent Charles Ecker has proposed resurfacing all of the aging tracks and tennis courts at Francis Scott Key, Liberty, North Carroll, South Carroll and Westminster high schools, with work scheduled for completion by Aug. 1.

The $1.14 million slated for the project would pay for new rubberized surfaces on five tracks, repairs to 28 tennis courts and surveillance systems at Liberty and South Carroll.

At some schools, the repairs are badly needed. Westminster's tennis team, for instance, plays all of its matches on opposing courts because its courts are considered unsafe.

Horn said that South Carroll hasn't played host to a track meet in about five years, mainly because opposing coaches fear injuries to their athletes.

The proposed resurfacing "is great for the kids," said Horn, a former track coach. "They've all said, `Why do we have to run on this thing? It isn't fair for us.' The kids really resent the fact that they've been running on this particular surface."

The biggest fear among athletic directors and coaches, however, is that the money could be pulled from the project to help fill a $5 million county budget gap.

"We're hoping [the money] will stay there," Horn said. "These are projects that are badly needed."

Familiar story for Century

With Westminster's loss to South Carroll on Thursday night, the Century girls basketball team - in its first varsity season - has clinched at least a share of the Carroll County title.

If the scenario sounds familiar, it's because the Knights also won a county title in girls soccer last fall before going on to capture the Class 2A state title.

It's no coincidence that several of the school's top soccer players, including county Player of the Year Kelly Kasper and fellow standouts Lauren Schwarzmann and Mandy Psenicska, are also key members of the basketball team.

The Knights feature standouts from other sports as well, including Stephanie Dickerson, the county's track and field Performer of the Year last spring, and Rachel Hawes, the two-time county cross country Runner of the Year.

"That's been a big reason why we've been successful," Century coach Joel Beard said. "We're a very athletic team, and because of that we've been able to win some games that maybe could've gone either way."

What makes the accomplishment even more impressive: Several of the Knights' top players view basketball as their second or even third sport.

"Especially since basketball isn't most of our sports, [winning a county title] will feel really good," Kasper said. "[Our coaches] have been working on us all year. With us being on the first varsity team, they want the best for us."

Richardson honored

George Richardson, coach of defending 3A state baseball champion South Carroll, has been named Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches 2002 Co-Coach of the Year for District 5. He will share the award with Kevin Kelly, coach of 2A champion Atholton.

Both will be honored at a banquet Saturday at the Oriole Park warehouse, during which the organization's preseason All-State team will be announced.

"I was very surprised," said Richardson, whose team finished 15-9-1 after a state semifinal victory over then-No. 1 Severna Park and a title-game victory over La Plata. "It's something that other people have to nominate you for, so I'm honored."

The Cavaliers and other county baseball teams will begin practice March 1.

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