Football coach shares pearls of sports wisdom


Howard At Play

August 01, 2004|By LOWELL E. SUNDERLAND

IT'S HOT to live in rapidly growing Elkridge these days, but when Doug DuVall was a boy, you might say it was cool - sometimes.

DuVall, now 57 and probably best known to readers of Howard County sports pages as the five-time state championship football coach at Wilde Lake High School, also is a talker not to be trifled with.

He left 'em both thinking and laughing as the main speaker at last week's second Celebration of Sports, a Department of Recreation and Parks cookout at Timbers at Troy Golf Course attended by leaders of many sports groups in Howard County.

DuVall produced epigram after epigram woven from 35 years of teaching, coaching young men (more than a few of whom he helped into college), and perspective as a Howard County native who played his very first games locally, too - in Elkridge. A sampler:

On adults in youth sports: "What's most important isn't winning or losing, it's the interaction between children and the parents and other adults involved with a team. Children will model themselves after adults who provide what they view as a valuable experience."

On differences in today's children: "Home used to be a special place, but in too many instances today, home has become a bitter place. So we in sports frequently find ourselves providing children with a place where they feel they belong, where they can be themselves."

On successful coaching: "Children have to have self-esteem. Kids would rather play on a team where they feel important - where they have a role to play - than win all the time.

"And then, the three worst things for a kid are fear, failure and criticism.

"You have to encourage them to try. You don't ever yell at a kid who just dropped a pass, `Catch the ball.' He knows he missed. Instead, tell him, `Forget that one. Get the next one. Focus on the end of the ball, squeeze it in.' "

On growing up in Elkridge: "I was maybe 6 when what is now the Elkridge Youth Organization played its first baseball. We wore the felt uniforms of the day and, after a year over in Relay, we played on a red-clay field next to the [Patapsco] river.

"What I remember most, though, was that our coach, George `Inch' Petrlik, would take us after a game, when we were so hot, to Horace Cugel's restaurant [now the landmark bikers' bar on U.S. 1], and there, we could open the doors to the coolers and stick our heads in. It was what you might call the first `Elkridge air conditioning.' "

Timbers is back

Speaking of Timbers at Troy, the county-owned golf course in Elkridge is in full swing again after a spring of construction.

Kyle Warfield, Timbers' PGA pro and general manager, acknowledged last week that play is down because of construction.

But earth-moving to create the new Marshalee Drive being cut through the course is about complete, and work on two holes that shortened play is done.

In truth, the course is in lovely condition, particularly the rebuilt No. 3, a dogleg-right, par-4 that requires golfers to carry a new pond and has a couple of new tees, and No. 6, a par-4 with a once-soggy, ill-designed green that has been redone from scratch.

"Rumors got going about how much interruption there was," Warfield said, "but we're back at full length now, and it's a better course. So we want golfers to come try us out again."

Run on the wild side

Columbia chiropractor Russel Antico regaled his Howard County Striders friends with an odd tale after a routine run on the Patuxent Branch Trail south of Broken Lane Parkway on Wednesday. Excerpts:

"As I approached the 1-mile turn-around marker, I noticed a beautiful owl - about 18 inches tall - about 20 feet off the path.

"As I stopped to get a closer look, this owl stared right back at me for about 20 seconds or so. ... About 20 minutes later, I was running past the same spot (in the opposite direction) and looked to see if `my friend' was still there.

"He was not.

"[But] not more then five seconds later, with absolutely no warning, I felt two large claws repeatedly grabbing at the back of my head. After ... throwing my arms around like a crazy man and yelling a number of obscenities, I came to a stop and turned around to find a peaceful, quiet and undisturbed pathway. ...

"My gaze slowly turned upward. Sure enough, there was my friend again, staring right back at me as if to say, `That will teach you to gawk at me.' "

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

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