Six inductees announced for Community Hall of Fame

The Community Sports Hall of Fame will induct six new members at the 12th Annual "Celebration of Sports" on Oct. 21 at the Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center.

The new members are: Shantha Chandra, Bernie Dennison, C. Vernon Gray, Allen Fleming, Art McGinnis and Marilyn Miceli.

Shantha Chandra moved to Howard County in 1998 and has been teaching tennis for the recreation and parks department ever since. She has earned a reputation as one of that sports premiere ambassadors, promoting tennis to the young primarily at the elementary and middle school levels.

She created the Multi-Cultural Tennis Association and has been a supporter of the QuickStart tennis program, which uses a smaller court, lower net and age-appropriate racquets. Shantha has held numerous key positions in the sport of tennis and received a Lifetime Service award in 2003 from the United States Tennis Association's Mid-Atlantic Section.

Charles "Bernie" Dennison has been involved with the Howard County Youth Program for the past 34 years. He has been a coach, administrator, board member and director for that program, and has been the driving force behind bringing basketball to disadvantaged youth through free clinics.

Bernie began the Friday Night Howard Youth Basketball Association with over 2,000 boys and girls participating in a season and also started the High Flyers Basketball Program at Centennial High School.

Allen Fleming is synonymous with youth football, baseball and cheerleading. In 1993, he organized the Columbia Angels for 12-year-old boys who had never played any organized baseball. A year later, Fleming coached and was president of the Howard County Trojans Youth Football Program (now the Howard County Terps) and in 1999, founded and coached the CCC Warriors Football Program.

The league started with just three teams but expanded to include cheerleading. He went on to co-found the Central Maryland Football and Cheer Program, which later merged with the Carroll County league to form the Mid-Maryland Youth Football and Cheer League.

C. Vernon Gray brought a new concept to Howard County through The First Tee, which introduces young athletes to the sport of golf. The First Tee teaches nine core principles — integrity, honesty, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment. Vernon secured a $100,000 commitment to begin the program. Unable to initially find a suitable location, Vernon Gray led the way in negotiations with the Columbia Association to use Fairway Hills Golf Course as its base of operations.

Over the years, approximately 9,000 young people have participated in The First Tee Program and many of those would have otherwise not have had the resources to play the sport.

Art McGinnis co-founded the Elkridge Athletic Association and later became its co-director and president. Discovering the lack of recreational facilities in the Elkridge area, Art was a driving force behind getting baseball and softball fields at Rockburn Branch Park. He then later led a community effort to get lights for those fields.

He not only played in the first softball game at the park, but also coached the first lacrosse game there as well. Over the span of three decades, Art McGinnis has coached hundreds of youngsters in lacrosse, softball, basketball and soccer.

Marilyn Miceli has been involved in Special Olympics Howard County for decades. When it appeared that the Program went inactive for several years and might remain that way, she was one of four parent volunteers who formed a leadership team to ensure the continuation and the future growth of Special Olympics.

In 2000, she became the program's assistant director and still holds that position. In 1999, Marilyn was named Special Olympics Howard County Volunteer of the Year. She remains a leader in all phases of that program and is recognized for her efforts on behalf of all Special Olympians.

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