Disney warns coaches

Howard Co. administrator wants thunder, lightning policy strictly enforced

High Schools

May 19, 2004|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Upset that the county's thunder and lightning policy was ignored during athletic contests at Mount Hebron Monday, Howard County coordinator of athletics Don Disney yesterday threatened county coaches with suspension and monetary penalties if they fail to pull their teams off the field at the first sound of thunder or first sighting of lightning.

Disney sent a strongly-worded e-mail to all athletic directors, trainers, principals and spring coaches that puts them on notice that they are personally responsible to see that the county policy is upheld in the future.

He said he thinks stiff penalties are required because mere letters of censure are insufficient to achieve the desired results.

"This e-mail is their letter of censure," said Disney. "Everyone is on notice."

The e-mail tells coaches not to wait for the officials to stop the game.

"You are to remove team members immediately if thunder is heard or lightning is seen," said the e-mail. "Seek shelter immediately. You will not be penalized."

The county policy requires a 30-minute delay once thunder or lightning is detected.

Several games in Anne Arundel County were halted Monday, one with only 12 seconds left.

"The cell was located over Elkridge, so it didn't affect games all over the county, but mainly at Mount Hebron," said Disney.

Thunder was heard for three innings during the baseball game at Mount Hebron Monday, and was also heard during a later boys lacrosse game. Lightning was also seen during the Mount Hebron boys lacrosse game, which went into four overtimes and didn't end until after 8 p.m.

Disney said he's also putting all referees on notice that if they fail to stop a game they will be banned from working future Howard County games.

"You must err on the side of safety," said Disney, who has survived two personal experiences with lightning. "I've been knocked down twice, once at a college lacrosse game and once on a golf course, and it was not raining either time. We're going to be in the same unsettled weather pattern for the next 10 days."

Disney said he never even saw the lightning in one of his experiences.

"Most people think lightning bolts come from the sky downward, but they actually start on the ground and go upward."

The e-mail stated: "There are more lightning deaths each year than all deaths related to all sports. Most deadly strikes occur with the sun shining."

Wilde Lake baseball player Ryan Schultheis told The Sun after Monday's game: "The thunder was making me nervous. I thought they'd call the game."

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