HCYP successors to Carolan should surely follow his lead

PLAYING AROUND

Howard At Play

April 27, 2003|By LOWELL E. SUNDERLAND

I've always thought that volunteering is something you do because you love it, not for any publicity."

Ellicott City resident Howard Carolan was being typically self-effacing, trying to downplay what he had just said - it essentially slipped out as he replied to an unrelated question.

And quickly, he deflected the conversation back to the Howard County Youth Program.

But what he had just said requires a little publicity, at least. For Carolan, who has been HCYP's president for the past four-plus years, resigned last week, feeling that requirements in his home life were detracting from his organizational effectiveness.

He has served HCYP in one capacity or another, from assistant baseball coach to commissioner of various age groups to director to corporate chief for more than 12 years, all unpaid.

"For most of the last nine months, I've simply been unable to devote the time and effort that HCYP needs and deserves," said Carolan, who works for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "And so I thought that stepping down was best for me and the organization."

Carolan is one of the most articulate, knowledgeable and philosophically sound people we've met in Howard County amateur sports. The job heading the corporate administration of a four-sport organization that operates year-round is demanding.

The group that began 26 years ago as a youth baseball club now serves thousands of greater Ellicott City youngsters with solid, competitive programs in baseball, softball, basketball and volleyball.

But size and continued growth are not always blessings, particularly when everyone involved is a volunteer. As HCYP president, Carolan has worked to balance the financial flow between sports (basketball has become its largest sport, by the way) and to help equalize the attention all get, to the chagrin of some in baseball, particularly.

He has also tried to add business clout to the board of directors, and he started HCYP's efforts at banking some money from fees with the long-term objective of building new facilities - fields and possibly a gym.

Pie-in-the-sky, some in the organization say quietly, and Carolan knows that; detractors come with the territory. But it says here that Carolan, who will continue on HCYP's board, has perspective and a grasp of reality that his successors really should use as a foundation, not something to ignore.

Vice President Bob Freund will complete Carolan's term.

Cooperative effort

One of Howard Carolan's last pieces of business as HCYP president was attending the April 16 meeting of leaders from eight youth sports groups here to explore helping one another in areas as diverse as building more playing fields and keeping predatory adults out of youth sports.

The session was called by David Procida, president of the Soccer Association of Columbia/Howard County, and much of it was spent meeting one another and putting ideas out for discussion.

"I thought it went very well," Procida said, delighted that more sessions are to follow.

Next, leaders are being asked to serve on groups to look into field development, field management, involving financially needy kids, managing risk and technology that can help all youth clubs.

Procida told the group he was quite willing to have another leader chosen, emphasizing that although SAC/HC, easily the county's largest sports group, had called the session, it was more interested in cooperation and helping other groups.

"I hope they can bring it off," said Carolan, one of three HCYP leaders attending. "He has a fresh approach, and they made it very clear that they were interested in the needs of all sports groups, not just soccer."

Like Procida and many youth sports leaders, Carolan worries about governmental budget restraints that are affecting maintenance and development of sports facilities.

"We're going to have all kinds of problems and new hurdles," Carolan said, referring to all youth clubs, not just HCYP. "And we're just going to have to learn to jump them. The county has grown so dynamically that, now, the government can't make us happy in the ways it could when things were smaller.

"People don't like change. And some of them have questions, but I thought it was a very positive session. People listened."

Along the sidelines

FOOTBALL: The new Elkridge youth football program set up by the Department of Recreation and Parks and being run through the Elkridge Youth Organization will be called the Hurricane.That's singular.

FOOTBALL, TOO: The Columbia Community Church Warriors, one of the county's thriving youth football programs, is registering players and cheerleaders for its fifth season. The Warriors expect to field six teams and three cheering squads in the Howard County-dominated Central Maryland Football League this fall. Information: www.eteamz.com/cccwarriors or call 410-637-5999.

BASKETBALL: The Ellicott City-based Knudsen Homes men's basketball team, a powerhouse in county men's play in recent years and defending Maryland state amateur men's champion, was runner-up in this year's state tournament in Ocean City this month. The tournament consisted of 22 East Coast teams.

Call the writer at 410-332-6525 or send e-mail to lowell.sunderland@baltsun.com.

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