Team beefs up fight on steroids

Educating students is campaign's goal

Blast Notebook

Pro soccer

March 23, 2007|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Reporter

The Blast has joined the local awareness battle against steroid use.

Always proactive among schools in the area, the team will work closely with the panel directing the Powered by ME! campaign to educate high school and middle school students, parents, coaches and teachers about the long-term dangers of the substances, beginning tonight when it hosts the Chicago Storm at 1st Mariner Arena.

"We're inviting some of the schools down to the game," Blast president and general manager Kevin Healey said. "And we're going to emphasize not taking shortcuts in life, proper decision-making and what it takes to be successful. We believe this will be the first of many things we do with this."

Public-address announcements about the subject will be made during the game. Afterward, player-coach David Bascome, considered the squad's most motivational speaker, will address whoever chooses to stay to listen.

"My job is to let them know it is not the way to go," Bascome said. "I have to give them some knowledge about dealing with steroids, and I've had to educate myself. We all have dreams, but sometimes we think we can take the shortest route to achieve them."

St. Joseph Medical Center is spearheading the effort to combat what is perceived as increasing use of steroids and hormonal supplements by teens to improve athletic performance and enhance one's image.

According to an article in The Sun last month, nearly a million high school students said in a 2003 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that they had tried steroids.

"There are probably new findings about this every day," Healey said. "It's a subject everybody is trying to learn. We don't have a problem with it in our league, and we think we are a good spokesman for it."

Said Bascome: "Some think steroids are going to get them ahead whatever they're playing. They're looking for an edge. But we all know they're bad. So the main thing is to get that message across."

Bascome on path back

Bascome will return to a full practice schedule next week and hopes to play in a regular-season game next weekend, four months after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

"Coming back, I'm not guaranteed anything," he said. "I'll be fighting for a spot and if I can't give all, I can't be out there. I'll put my hand up [a signal to the bench to leave the game]."

One and done

In a drastic turnabout, the Major Indoor Soccer League's owners voted to play a one-game showdown for the championship in Detroit on April 21.

"I voted squarely against it," Blast owner Ed Hale said of a move ostensibly made to accommodate national television.

The semifinals will pit the regular season's first-place finisher against the fourth and the second against the third in two-game, home-and-home series, with a golden goal deciding the outcome in the event of a split.

kent.baker@baltsun.com

Tonight's game

Matchup -- Chicago Storm (13-12) at Blast (15-11)

Site -- 1st Mariner Arena

Time -- 7:35

Radio -- 680 AM

Season series -- Blast leads 3-1

Outlook -- While seeking to recover from two straight losses on the road, the Blast also hopes to improve its standing in the playoff picture. Chicago is battling for its postseason life with a half-game lead on rival Milwaukee for the final spot. Stephen Armstrong leads the Storm with 60 points, and Mark Ughy has 52. Denison Cabral has scored a series-high 13 points against Chicago.

KENT BAKER

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