To prove how naive I can be, I thought that when the Howard County high schools were approved to have turf fields installed that everybody would be pleased or at least relatively pleased. I should have known, after all my years in this profession, that it is impossible to please everyone.
It has come to my attention that there is quite a large contingent of people who are anti-turf. This group believes that turf fields should not have been approved in the first place for a number of varying reasons. The negative opinions stem from high costs, claims that the money could be spent better elsewhere, or the fact that the heat that these fields generate apparently reaches unhealthy levels.
However, the argument is now moot since all high schools are getting or have already gotten turf fields at a cost of $1 million per field plus an additional $35,000 for maintenance. Construction is underway at Long Reach, Oakland Mills and Wilde Lake High School, while Atholton, Hammond and Howard had fields installed last summer.
These turf fields can be used year round by both the high schools and other recreational programs and they appear to need little upkeep.
I know little about the bounce on these fields pro and con, or how it feels on the legs of users. I just know that they were approved and have been going into the schools at the rate of three a year.
Amaral moving up
I can say that I remember Joey Amaral when he was a young man umpiring for the Tri County Umpires Association here in Howard County. He's come a long way.
On the Fourth of July, Joey got a call to report to umpire AAA games, putting him just one tier below the Major League level. This is a young man, now 30 years old, who graduated from Hammond High School in 2000 and felt strongly that his future was in umpiring. He started like many aspiring umpires at the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School in Florida and has been steadily on the upward move ever since toward the big show.
There aren't that many major league slots available, with a total of about 100 umpires (including backups) at that level. And once you get there, if ever you do, you have to prove yourself in every game. But, for Joey, a challenge is nothing new. Joey has been through his share of tests and has proven to be up to the task every step of the way.
Joey Amaral's dad, Mike, is the commissioner of the Tri County Umpires Association and believes in his son as I do. We wish him the very best.
New AAMs named
There have been a lot of moving pieces with the retirement of Vince Parnell and Joe Russo as Athletics and Activities Managers at Wilde Lake and Hammond High Schools, respectively, and with Jack Davis being moved up to County Coordinator of Athletics from Glenelg. Recently, the replacements for the three AAM positions were named.
Brian Rau takes over at Wilde Lake, Daniel Sageman at Glenelg and Michael Lerner at Hammond. All three have coaching experience in Howard County.
I would be remiss if I did not state that we all owe a great deal of appreciation to both Vince and Joe for the many years of service that they both provided. Both had to endure many changes to the status quo over the years and both responded magnificently.
We will miss both not only because of their service as AAMs, but for the years of simply being the best human beings that we could ever ask to know.