Recreation hall of fame to add 10 county residents

AT PLAY

September 28, 2005|By LOWELL E. SUNDERLAND

Here we go one last time, leading off with a little new business and then closing with a little business about growing ... older.

DINING OUT: If you're a leader or coach or were involved in that capacity with any sports group in Howard County - for kids or adults - we recommend that you attend the third Celebration of Sports dinner Oct. 11 conducted by the county Department of Recreation and Parks.

Ten county residents - seven men and three women - who have helped establish various sports groups will be inducted into the new Community of Sports Hall of Fame.

The event will be held at Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Columbia resident Phil Chenier, Washington Wizards broadcaster and former NBA star, will speak.

The inductees are Tony Aardrup, who helped establish the Savage Boys and Girls Club; Ellicott City's Arlene Dineen, known for her summertime "fun runs;" George and Joyce Bickerton, instrumental in founding adult sports programs; Bill Glasgow, for work with the Howard County Youth Program; Felix Rausch and Bill Sim, who helped start soccer in Columbia; Betty and Bill Straehle for youth swimming; and David Tripp, for the Howard County Striders.

Their likenesses will be on a wall at the rec department's headquarters in Guilford. The evening also will let you schmooze with leaders of other county groups facing similar issues and problems that go with the territory of amateur sports.

You can buy tickets - $18 - on the rec department's Web site, www.co.ho.md.us/RAP, or by calling 410-313-5711. Deadline: Oct. 4.

HELPING OTHERS: The Free State Pinball Association, which has conducted competition for a decade at Volleyball House - now in Elkridge but formerly in Columbia - raised nearly $2,000 for hurricane victims last Saturday. Bernie Kelm, the group's leader, said that about 80 players took part in the fundraising event. Proceeds go to the Salvation Army.

FOUND MONEY: The Soccer Association of Columbia-Howard County, to be the first beneficiary of what's likely to become on Oct. 6 a county law exempting nonprofit groups from property taxes on athletics fields they own, got a surprise from the tax collector.

The club, which paid about $40,000 in property taxes for its first year at Northrop Fields at Covenant Park, learned recently that a recalculation of the bill means a rebate of something around $25,000.

Time's almost up

Teaching's not the only alternative for those who like something but can't do it well; some of us write.

Fact is, this writer could never hit a baseball. But trying to do so as a kid evolved into a lifelong interest in sports that in a sense resulted in being assigned part time in March 2000 to write this parochial column - about amateur sports in Howard County.

Writing more than 275 of these weekly columns, plus generating a like number of articles that also appear on this page, has made us appreciate what sports mean to people in ways the Rafael Palmieros and Terrell Owenses of the world will never get.

It's sure not about money or renown - for amateur athletes or writers. What we've learned is how nearly all people in sports are there - not for fame - but to teach, to learn, to meet and relate to others, to escape, to sustain friendship, to test life's limits, to simply enjoy the experience.

We've found Howard County residents from age 5 to their upper 80s active in more than 70 sports, loosely defined with "competing" as the main criterion. Virtually all are unheralded.

We've written about a one-legged soccer player, a swimming gold medalist who's 86, a number of 40-, 50- and 60-somethings who can compete - and sometimes beat - anyone in their age groups in the country at tennis, handball, road cycling or mountain biking. We've written here about two Olympians and on other Sun pages two others with Howard County ties. We've written about families whose lives revolve around a sport and a mom who took up soccer at age 50 and has since played twice in Europe. We'll never forget parents who, by conducting an annual footrace, honor a son who fought addiction - and lost.

A funny and insightful moment came during an over-60 softball game at Cedar Lane Park, where we learned the definition of an optimist: It was a hitter at home plate with a new bat. "That bat cost him about $160, and he's 80," a grinning teammate said. "Now, that's an optimist."

We're not close to 80 and a $160 bat won't help us hit, either, but we are optimistic about finally achieving time for some other pursuits we've wanted to explore, some journalistic, some not. The point is, this is our last column. After 36 years in newspapering - all but two in metro Baltimore and about 14 involving coverage of Howard County in various ways - it's time to retire. We've had fun. Oh, and keep playing.

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