CHOF Waxler

Louise Waxler, who is being inducted into the Howard County Community Hall of Fame, has been running soccer tournaments since 1985. (Photo by Brendan Cavanaugh, Patuxent Publishing / October 6, 2011)

Listen to the obvious affection in Louise Waxler's voice when she recalls the names of the many volunteers who helped create a national showcase event out of a small weekend soccer tournament and it is easy to understand why she's been so successful in a myriad of sports-oriented endeavors.

Listen to her describe her Pittsburgh childhood in the DeMacio family and that understanding of her success is further enhanced.

"I grew up in an ethnic family, Italian on both sides,'' she said. "My mom had eight brothers and sisters and they all lived on the same street. My grandmother lived on the same street."

Louise's father worked in the steel mills.

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"It was all about family and my life revolved around sports. I played softball, volleyball, field hockey and basketball. I never played soccer and didn't know anything about it until my youngest daughter played.''

That daughter, Lindsay, earned an athletic scholarship to play Division I soccer at the University of Arkansas.

Louise's only sibling, Tony DeMacio, is the director of scouting for the Atlanta Braves after serving an eight-year stint in the same position with the Baltimore Orioles in the 1990s.

Waxler attended Slippery Rock College for three years until her mother's death forced her to drop out. "Girls didn't go to college much in those days. I had to beg my father to go.''

She then married Rich Waxler and the couple lived in Philadelphia for 13 years and Pittsburgh for two more before moving to Maryland for her husband's new job. By then she had two daughters.

She became involved with the Soccer Association of Columbia's Memorial Day Soccer Tournament, Howard County's signature sports event that put Columbia on the national soccer map, because her daughter's coach, Leo Weil, asked for her help. Weil's wife was the tournament's girls coordinator.

"I never thought it would grow into what it did,'' Waxler said. "We used to sit in the kitchen typing up applications.''

In 1985 she became tournament director, remaining in that position through 2006, and the number of teams soared from 135 to 230. As many as 400 teams would apply.

"We had to keep it manageable. We didn't have enough fields and it was about quality not quantity,'' she said. "There was no electronic application then. We would mail out 1,100 applications and then sort through them by hand to decide which teams to take. The quality is what made it so successful. We had many former national players."

A 1989 Sports Illustrated story that called Columbia a "hotbed for soccer'' and featured a local club team called the Diplomats, with Todd Haskins and Kori Hunter, also helped.

But mostly it was the unpaid volunteers that made it work.

"I had a core of 20 to 25 people, many of whom stayed with me for 20 years,'' said Waxler, who also served as SAC's executive director from 1989 through 1996.

Waxler rattles off names such as Blondelle Hunter, Marcelino Bedolla, Bob and Sharon Landolt, Arlene and Jeff Rodway, Bob Carels, Tenney Brown, Lincoln Phillips, Dave Nesbitt, Dave Shapiro, Bob Hall, Rob Bindel, Joyce and Bob Curtis, Steve Brunett, Don and Nancy Van Deusen as if they were all family members.

"Tenney Brown was a ham (radio) operator and that's how we communicated at the different fields back then. There were no cell phones,'' said Waxler.

The chores involved were many, ranging from ordering T-shirts, to creating a printed program, to writing college profiles, to putting together and transporting portable goals, to lining fields to securing housing for out-of-town teams. A different volunteer handled each job.

"Bob and Sharon Landolt did the housing for 20 years,'' Waxler said.