Bits & Pieces: Howard County is lucky to have caring coaches... look at the alternative

Sometimes I read something that just makes me shake my head in disgust. Luckily, I'm confident that what allegedly happened in Tustin, Calif., recently will never happen here because of the quality of our youth league coaches and coordinators.

In case you haven't heard the story: the head coach and the president of a football team for 11- and 12-year-olds in Orange County were suspended amid allegations that their players were offered cash incentives to knock opponents out of games. Yes, you read that right. The matter is under investigation, although the coach in question and his assistant have denied having done any such thing.

Pop Warner football has always stood for integrity. Let's hope that the organization can come out of this scandal with that proud reputation still intact.

A farewell to Carol

With the retirement of Carol Gralia as our sports editor this week after a career that spanned three decades, we can announce that Brent Kennedy will become our new sports editor with Andrew Conrad as the assistant sports editor. Carol will be hard to replace because of her long-standing, solid relationships that she built with coaches, players and administrators.

Brent, a Howard High School and Towson University grad, possesses a lot of the qualities that endeared Carol to so many. Andrew, who graduated from Loyola College, is also a veteran reporter with strong ties to the local sports community. Brent and Andrew have more than a decade of combined experience covering Howard County sports, and they are readily accessible to the public.

Initially I thought that I would follow Carol out the door after four decades here myself. But I applaud the selection of both Brent and Andrew from within the sports department. Maybe I will stick around for a bit longer.

Still Zaching strong

I happened to bump into a young lady wearing a "Zaching" T-shirt this past Sunday, and she told me that Zach Lederer had undergone yet another brain operation recently. Zach, a Centennial High School graduate and University of Maryland student, has somehow maintained a positive attitude even though he has undergone more than most of us will endure in a lifetime. His impromptu muscle-flexing pose from the post-operation hospital bed triggered an Internet meme last winter.

I recall when we were all wearing "Zaching" T-shirts. Now, some of that publicity may have dissipated to a degree, but not to me and his many friends. Let's continue to remember this courageous young man and keep him in our daily thoughts. If we think that our problems are difficult to bear sometimes, just think of Zach and the resilience that he has displayed. I wish that I had just a bit of the courage that Zach has shown over the years.

Zach's grandmother, Liz Bobo, sent out an encouraging report following Zach's latest surgery.

"The outcome could not have been better," she said.

Without going into the details of the surgery, I've been told that in 90 percent of the cases of Zach's type, the brain tumor does not return. And in the cases where the brain tumor does return, it is very treatable.

Zach is going to physical therapy three days a week and the doctors feel that he will gain all of his strength and abilities back.

We say, "Keep going Zach. We are behind you all the way."

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