Bits & Pieces: Mike Williams made Howard County a better place for school sports

Mike Williams will retire from his position as Howard County Public Schools' coordinator of athletics in April to become the Athletic Director at Gettysburg High School. As a resident of Gettysburg, Mike's commute to work will now be a paltry 2.2 miles round trip compared with the 110 miles he covered each day for the past six years.

When Mike replaced Don Disney in 2005, he had a five-year plan. He lasted eight in a job that is, in my opinion, a lightning rod for criticism. He was directly involved in some major accomplishments during his tenure. First was his role in getting the position of part-time athletic director changed to full-time activity manager so that the county's athletic directors didn't have to spend half of their time teaching and the other half running an athletic program.

Second, he was at the forefront of bringing into the school system a Concussion Program whereby all athletes in contact sports had to be evaluated for concussions. Players who were "dinged up" could not re-enter a game on the OK of the coach and had to sit out games until cleared medically. This program set the bar for other school systems nationally and even preceded the concussion programs for professional athletes.

Third, Mike developed an Allied Sports Program, which allowed disabled athletes to compete with able-bodied athletes. Mike worked hard to make this county one of the best and most copied Allied programs in Maryland and beyond.

He also had his detractors. Some parents were unhappy with his position on bringing artificial turf to the high schools. Some felt that the artificial surface generated too much heat and therefore was detrimental to the athletes. Others were concerned about the amount of money the plan required. In the end, the decision to bring in the artificial surfaces was not Mike's alone and was done after a great deal of research.

I can say that through these eight years, Mike Williams has been highly successful and stood up to his critics. After 38 years in the Howard County school system, mostly at Glenelg with one year at Oakland Mills and a stint at then-Western Maryland College, he leaves with this final comment: "I gave it all I had. I gave it my best effort every day."

I have enjoyed my association with him immensely and wish him nothing but the best.

Scholarship season is here

It's time for high school seniors to check out the various scholarships that are available. Two that come to mind immediately are the Robert Davidson Scholar Athlete Awards sponsored by the Rotary Club of Columbia and the Howard County Striders' David Tripp Scholar/Athlete Awards.

The Davidson scholarship is offered to top male and female scholar athletes who are graduating Howard County seniors. This award, in its 28th year, gives $2,000 grants to the two winners and $1,000 for two runners-up. All eligible senior athletes are encouraged to apply. For further information go to

Applications are being accepted for the David Tripp Scholar/Athlete Awards, which are merit-based and available to Howard County residents. These awards recognize male and female winners as well as runners-up. The criteria for consideration include outstanding achievement both in the classroom and as a runner in cross country, track and/or road races. These awards are expected to total $5,000 in 2013. Go to or email for more information.

The deadline for receipt of applications for both scholarships is April 10.

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