UMBC players, parents try to lobby support

College Field hockey

December 07, 2006|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,Sun reporter

Players and parents associated with UMBC field hockey are trying to revive a sport eliminated by the school recently in an effort to lessen a budget deficit.

UMBC athletic director Charlie Brown informed the team of the cutback last Thursday. Since then, the team has tried to raise the profile of its cause.

"My initial reaction was anger - angry and confused," junior forward Jessica Smith said. "But I know that a lot of parents started talking to each other, and by Friday, all of the players started to get involved."

The players and their parents have called on support from business leaders, state legislators, media outlets, other field hockey programs in the America East conference and the National Women's Law Center, which often represents eliminated women's teams.

In addition, the team is hoping to meet with Brown and the school's president, Freeman Hrabowski.

R. Brady Locher, father of freshman midfielder Casey Locher, said the cut has an effect on field hockey players in the state, since Towson and Maryland tend to recruit more beyond the borders.

"The UMBC program is unique in the sense that most of the players are from Maryland," Locher said.

Brown said a shortfall of roughly $1 million led to the field hockey cut, in addition to belt-tightening of the athletic program's staffing, operations and scholarships. The program eventually will save $175,000 per year by cutting field hockey, previously eliminated in 1987 before it returned in 2000, Brown said.

"We have a financial situation," Brown said. "We'd tried a few things, and this time, one option was to reduce the number of sports. A lot of schools have eliminated multiple teams. So it's not an isolated case."

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