Bits & Pieces: Fans need to grow up, stop sickening behavior or just stay home

I have witnessed some uncomfortable moments at Baltimore Ravens football games when people threw objects at fans wearing opposing teams colors. I cannot understand why fans do that. I specifically recall an incident when two Miami Dolphins fans had things thrown at them. It was so juvenile and I felt that someday someone would get seriously injured.

Well, it finally happened at an Orioles game recently when Baltimore fans apparently took offense at a guy wearing a Yankees cap. After a confrontation, the two Baltimore fans attacked the Yankees' fan, sending him to the hospital and into intensive care. The two fools were charged with assault and hopefully the man will survive and these two will be given some time in jail to ponder their actions. Fortunately, a longtime friend and off-duty state trooper managed to remove chewing tobacco that was blocking his breathing, essentially saving his life.

I don't know if it was alcohol or just stupidity that contributed to this assault, but I fear that unless we grow up as fans we are liable to see more of these assaults. People don't seem to realize that it's only a game, and that opposing fans have a right to enjoy the game without fear of being attacked. If someone has trouble understanding that, they should just stay home. What ever happened to civility and sportsmanship?

Gay Petrlik will be missed

If you were to look for an illustration of what is commonly referred to as a "Player's Coach," Gay Petrlik would fit that description. Gay, who passed away from cancer on May 26 at the age of 66, epitomized what a coach should be. She cared deeply for every player, treated them and the opposition with respect, and promoted women's sports.

She was hired by the late and great Walt Caldwell at Hammond High School in 1984 and started with junior varsity field hockey. She also coached indoor and outdoor track, and in 1987 her indoor team won the county championship. One season later, she became Hammond's first girls lacrosse coach, advancing to the state semifinals in 1997.

However, winning wasn't everything for Gay Petrlik. A statement during her induction into the county Women's Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 said, "If the measure of success in the athletic arena is defined just by victories gained and championships won, then Gay Petrlik would be an also-ran. She prepared her teams for every contest but more importantly prepared her young ladies for life after sport."

Many of her former players attended a memorial service May 30 at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church to share in a final goodbye to the lady known as Coach P. She touched each and every one of them and they will hear her voice for years to come.

Her longtime friend and coaching associate, Brooke Kuhl-McClelland, said "There wasn't a persan who didn't like her. She touched so many people in a positive way. She was quite the lady. We sat next to each other for so many years and we never had a bad day together all those years. There was a lot of laughter."

Joe Russo, the retiring Athletics and Activities Manager at Hammond, recalled Gay as an individual "full of energy."

"She was someone who cared deeply for her players and she actively promoted women's sport," he said. "We will miss her."

The Gay Petrliks of this world don't pass our way that often so we should be thankful that we had her for as long as we did. She not only touched her players but their parents and the Hammond and Howard County communities as well. She brought honor to her profession, to her school and ultimately to herself. May she rest in peace.

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