At Play

Leaders of the gridiron pack

Volunteer youth league coaches put it overtime time to make their teams work

August 15, 2007|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,Special to The Sun

The phone calls start around 7 a.m. for David Marcus and Rick Peacock.

What time is practice? Where do we play?

What kind of equipment does my son need? Why doesn't my son get more playing time?

"My cell phone is ringing off the hook non-stop until midnight," said Peacock, who runs the Anne Arundel Youth Football Association and coaches a Gambrills-Odenton Recreation Council team.

Marcus, founder and president of the Brooklyn Park Broncos recreation football program, faces the same all-day litany of questions.

Answering the phone is only part of the grueling schedule of a volunteer football coach in Anne Arundel County. They juggle practices, games, uniforms, cranky parents, bruised egos and novice players mixing with experienced ones.

The county youth football program, with its 21 programs and 5,600 players, has hundreds of coaches, with nearly all also holding down full-time jobs.

For Marcus, a job in pipeline rehabilitation keeps him going to different parts of the country. But he always finds a way to make it back for his Broncos.

The Glen Burnie resident played for Brooklyn Park High School and coached in the Andover recreation football program. He jumped when a vacant field became available after Brooklyn Park High School closed around 1990.

Marcus started the Broncos in 1991 with three teams. Now there are eight teams with about 200 players. He also coaches the 110-pound team.

"It takes a lot of my time," Marcus said. "But I enjoy doing it. The thing is that I'm 50 years old, and I don't really go out socially any more, so my heart is with the program."

What makes his devotion - he spends 20 to 30 hours a week on the program - unusual among coaches is that his children are grown. His sons, who played for Brooklyn Park, are 24 and 29.

During summer practice, Marcus' team practices from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. five days a week. After school starts later this month, they'll practice three days a week, with games on Friday or Saturday.

Peacock, of Crofton, works in sales but needs 15 to 20 hours a week during training camp to coach the GORC 110-pound team while running the AAYFA. The organization has 21 programs with 5,600 players this year.

"I've got the candle burning at both ends of the stick," Peacock said. "But I love it. Isn't that sick?"

He played youth football in Prince George's County, then at Archbishop Carroll in Washington. Now he has two stepsons and one son who play at various levels. Ben Chroniger, his oldest stepson, is a freshman at the U.S. Air Force Academy and plays football there. Tom Chroniger is a junior quarterback at DeMatha, while Peacock's 11-year-old son, Colin plays on his father's team.

The season, which stretches from July to December, requires more than preparing plays or scheduling practices. Parents get upset with the amount of playing time their children are getting or the kids' role on the team; some young players don't shy from complaining, either.

"Any time there's a conflict, I love it because there's a diplomatic way to handle it," Peacock said. "I think I do have a way of reaching people with my attitude."

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