I attended the inaugural meeting of the Ellicott City Soccer Club on April 5 at Turf Valley. During the introductions, Bill Stara, the longtime high school soccer coach at Centennial and River Hill, and the club's technical director, presented one of the greatest three-minute videos I have ever seen or heard during my years in sports here. I recommend that all parents and their children find a way to have Bill repeat that message. Again, it is only three minutes long, but it is a life lesson of how to pursue your passion no matter what obstacles you face along the way. After the video, I told Bill that it was probably the best and most effective pep talk I have ever heard.

Sometimes we settle for less and allow our dreams, our passions, those things that we really want, to go unfulfilled. If you have a passion for something, stick with it. Don't sit back and say those famous words when you are older, "I shoulda, I coulda." Cemeteries are filled with shouldas and couldas.

Special Olympics Inspiration Walk

Special Olympics of Howard County has something special on deck for April 26 at Centennial Park. It's the 13th annual Inspiration Walk, with proceeds funding local sports training and athletic competitions. May I remind you that Special Olympics provides 19 sports for over 600 Howard County children and adults and this walk is one of the most important fundraisers to pay for those sports. In fact, the funds provide almost two-thirds of the organization's operating budget.

There's lots going on during this 2.6 mile walk including photo posters of the athletes and sponsor signs. I like these photos because they bring real meaning to the purpose of the Inspiration Walk.

Registration is at 8 a.m. and the walk through the park starts around 9:15, led by Honorary Chairman and retiring State Senator Jim Robey, State Delegate Guy Guzzone and Police Captain John Newnan leading the way.

Walkers who pledge $25 will receive a T-shirt and their names will be entered in a random drawing for gifts donated by local businesses.

April 26 is apparently a very big day in sports because on that date, in addition to the Inspiration Walk in the morning, Wegman's and Apple Ford are presenting "Stop. Give. Roll." a benefit for the ARC of Howard County to be held at the Brunswick Columbia Lanes from 7-9 p.m.

Teams of 4-6 bowlers can still register with the goal of raising funds from friends and associates in support of ARC, an organization that offers a wide range of services for people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Individuals can also register and will be put on one of the teams. Prizes will be awarded to the highest scoring individual and team.

Howard County Tennis Association

It is hard to believe that this past April 6, the Howard County Tennis Association began its 19th season providing quality tennis to Howard County citizens. The organization was founded by Bob Weiss whose vision was to provide opportunities to young and old throughout Howard County to participate in tennis programs. The first Board of Directors was comprised of Bob, Ken Knouse, Harry Chiu and the late, great Peter Finck.

The centerpiece of the organization's season is the annual Columbia Junior Open tennis tournament, the only sanctioned United States Tennis Association (USTA) event for juniors in Howard County. The event attracts more than 130 juniors from all over the Mid-Atlantic region and was chosen as the 2009 USTA Mid-Atlantic Tournament of the Year.

HCTA honors the memory of Peter Finck at this event by presenting a sportsmanship award to a deserving boy and girl as a tribute to Peter's commitment to the sport of tennis in Howard County.