Pat Kennedy, Towson men's basketball

Towson men's basketball coach Pat Kennedy has volunteered with the Special Olympics for the past 30 years. (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron / February 21, 2009)

Summer vacation has a special place in Pat Kennedy's heart.

For the past 30 years, including this summer, the Towson men's basketball coach and his wife, Jean, have worked closely with the Special Olympics. The Kennedys met in New York while Pat was coaching at Iona, and Jean, then a state employee, was heavily involved in the program.

Since then, the two have made it a point to work with the Special Olympics no matter where Kennedy was coaching, including stops in New York, Florida, Montana and now Maryland.

"I grew up where people who were handicapped had little help with anything," Kennedy said. "The effect the organization has on human beings is incredible."

This year, Kennedy hosted a clinic in April with his staff for coaches participating in the games, instructing them about how to teach the fundamentals of basketball to athletes with special needs.

The activities this summer were hosted at Towson, and Kennedy was overcome with joy while handing out medals at the swimming events.

"When you start seeing the joy and happiness on people's faces for their accomplishments, it's a tremendously emotional thing to be part of," he said.

Coaching for gold

Representing his country is on Paul Cantabene's agenda for the summer. The Stevenson men's lacrosse coach will serve as an assistant coach when the U.S. team travels to England to play in the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships in July.

"It's a great honor to be a part of the U.S. national team," Cantabene said. "I was an alternate the last time around, so it was a great honor. I'm just looking forward to the experience and helping the team win a championship."

Cantabene was asked by head coach Mike Pressler to instruct the faceoff units for the tournament, which is held every four years. This year, 30 teams will compete, with Canada, Australia and the Iroquois Nation as favorites along with the U.S.

In its last appearance in the tournament in 2006, the U.S. came up just short of gold, falling to Canada, 15-10, in the final. Cantabene expects the U.S. team will be hungry for victory this time around.

"Our expectations are to win the championship," he said.

Camping on campus

For the past nine years, Morgan State football coach Donald Hill-Eley has hosted camps for Baltimore youth to keep their minds and bodies active throughout the summer.

The kids come for eight-hour sessions on Morgan's campus, receiving instruction on topics such as drug awareness and conflict resolution.

"If their parents do have to work, they know the kids are in a safe environment and they're not just passing time," Hill-Eley said. "We're helping them with reading and math -- stuff to stimulate the mind as well as keeping them in shape."

Hill-Eley said the experience of spending time at a university is also important for the children. He said kids need to have the goal of attending college from an early age, and their time spent at Morgan State will only strengthen that desire.

"It gives them a ground where they can just be kids and not have to worry about what neighborhoods they're from," he said.