Bits & Pieces: As year ends, give credit to volunteers in local sports

As we get ready to end another year, it's time to thank all of those volunteers who make the sports that we play and support so much better.

We barely recognize all of the work and the many contributions made by high school booster clubs, which are instrumental to the success of the athletic programs. The work and the support that these clubs provide is often done with very little acknowledgement.

We tend to forget the thousands of volunteers that make triathlons and running events safe and enjoyable. Soccer is another sport that has been built up because of the work of those behind the scenes. Many of the directors for these races, tournaments and meets are doing work and helping out without much in the way of compensation. Some of these individuals have even stuck around long after their children left the programs years earlier.

Let's also recognize the officials for these youth games. Many of us, myself included, have volunteered to officiate only to receive nothing but abuse.

We do have the Community Sports Hall of Fame, where many of the standouts over the years have been identified and recognized in front of a large county audience. But, generally, there are so many others that slip through the cracks, despite the fact that our sports programs would hardly resemble what they are today without them.

I have plowed this field since 1971 and I have known many of the earliest volunteers who provided the framework for what we have today.

None expected to be thanked. They did it for their kids. They did it for the game they loved and they did it because they felt that they could make a difference.

It wouldn't hurt to recognize those who got us where we are today. If athletics is the word, we continue to put the emphasis on the wrong syllable.

Historical win streak

As impressive as the current winning streak of 23 consecutive games by the River Hill Hawks football team is, it is still only half way to the 47 straight wins put up by the Howard Lions from 1971-1975. It's also well short of the 40 straight wins by River Hill itself from 2007-2009.

That streak by Howard ended abruptly in the 1975 Class B Finals against Paint Branch, which was coached by former University of Maryland Head Coach Roy Lester. The final score was 28-6. I attended that game and I still remember the tremendous job that coach Ned Sparks and his assistant coaches Dan Ross, John Kemmerer, Chuck Bragg and others did even in the loss.

River Hill has a great team and an even better coaching staff. Here's rooting for number 24. Streaks are built one game at a time.

Running under the radar

Competing in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference, Glenelg Country senior Hannah Mansbach hasn't always gotten the exposure you'd expect for one of the state's top high school runners. But with efforts like she recently had at the annual Nike Cross Country Southeast Regional Meet Nov. 24 in North Carolina, she is proving herself well worthy of recognition.

In a meet consisting of 192 elite high school girls, Mansbach finished 26th in a time of 18:27.3. She was the top senior athlete from Maryland in the race.

Earlier this fall, Mansbach earned top-three finishes at the IAAM combined championships and the MD/DC Private School Championships. In both races she posted times under 19 minutes.

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