John Novotny, known locally and throughout the golfing community simply as Gus, loved teaching golf to thousands of people both young and old.
As the proprietor of the Rocky Gorge Golf Fairway off Route 29, which he opened in 1964, Gus not only taught the sport of golf but was also an innovator who made countless major contributions to the golf range and batting cage industry. Gus passed away on March 24 in Florida after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.
At his induction into the Community Sports Hall of Fame last fall at Turf Valley, Gus was remembered for some of the innovations he introduced such as heated and covered tees and synthetic turf hitting surface. He installed lights so that people could hit balls at night and was committed to being open year-round rain or shine.
He also brought innovation when it came to his batting cages, offering one of the area's only open-field hitting areas. He was remembered as a person who loved family and friends and always tried to do his best in everything he attempted.
The Rocky Gorge facility is still thriving, offering miniature golf in addition to the batting cages and driving range.
Gus wanted to attend those Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in October, but his health prevented him from making the trip up to Maryland. So instead, his longtime friend and fellow inductee, Jim McCauley subbed for him.
Gus still got to talk to the 600 people who attended the ceremony, as his speech was Skyped to the audience. His words that evening may have been some of the most heart-warming that I have heard in the 10-year existence of the Community Sports Hall of Fame. In a tearful, "Thank You," he said at one point, it turns out he was also inadvertently saying "Goodbye" to his many friends here.
Jim McCauley stated that Gus felt fulfilled by the recognition that he received that evening. As it turned out, we who knew Gus were the ones who were fulfilled by having him as a cherished member of our community. May he rest in peace.
Grote named Rookie of Week
The list of lacrosse players from Howard County that go on to have successful college careers is so lengthy that it's almost impossible to keep track of them all. Each year it seems there are dozens of local kids attending and starring at Division I colleges.
One of those girls lacrosse standouts was recently recognized by the America East Conference.
Marriotts Ridge graduate Nicole Grote, named to the first-team all-county squad last spring as a member of the Mustangs, is now a freshman at the University of New Hampshire and received the honor of Conference Rookie of the Week following a big game against Iona.
Nicole registered career highs for assists (four) and points (seven) in a 16-0 New Hampshire victory. She also tied for the team lead in draw controls in that game.
On the mens lacrosse side this spring, two of the top 11 teams in the latest Nike Division I Poll (No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 11 Johns Hopkins) feature a Howard County graduate playing significant minutes. Jimmy Marlatt, who graduated from River Hill in 2010, is a junior midfielder for Notre Dame and is currently second on the team with 21 points (15 goals, 6 assists) this spring. Greg Edmonds, who graduated from Centennial in 2010, is a junior midfielder at Johns Hopkins that has seen action in six of the team's eight games.
These three individuals certainly aren't the only local faces making headlines around the country, but they do provide a nice little snapshot of the quality lacrosse talent Howard County is producing.