After a two-decade hiatus, the Annapolis All-Stars youth sports program is returning to Annapolis this summer.
The All-Stars founders are husband and wife Stanford Womack Sr. and Shirley Womack, who have their sights set on strengthening relationships and helping the youth in their community the way they did when they started the program in 1989. The couple is teaming up with their son, Michael Womack Sr., and a group of dedicated volunteers, some of whom participated in the program’s first iteration, to bring it back to life.
“We see kids outside with nothing to do,“ Stanford Womack Sr. said in an interview in June. “Couple that with kids being basically captive in their homes and neighborhoods due to COVID-19, so we just have a need in the community.”
The athletic program is set to begin by the end of July and is open to girls and boys, ages 4-13. . Those interested in joining can sign up at The Bates Middle School Complex from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. Tackle football registration is $125 before July 15 and $175 after. Children ages 7-13 are eligible. Football practice will begin July 29.
“We know we can make an impact in these kids’ lives, we’re just using sports to get their attention,“ Stanford Womack Sr. said.
Flag football for children ages 4-6 years old is free. Cheerleading is available for children ages 6-13 years old and costs $150 to register.
Womack originally started the All-Stars with his wife in the late 80s to get kids into sports and provide academic programs and mentorship, he said. What started with only two football teams in 1989 grew to eight by 1991. Later, the program expanded to include 13 basketball teams and six baseball teams and four cheerleading teams.
On any given night during the program’s heyday more than 120 kids would gather in the cafeteria of Bates Middle School for study hall, hear from motivational speakers who gave insights about life, or take field trips to nearby colleges, Womack Sr. said.
“Anything that exposed the kids to things they wouldn’t get exposed to otherwise,” he said.
At the heart of the organization’s mission was to improve the social, economic, and cognitive skills of the young people they serve through mentorship, athletics and education. All the things that the All-Stars were to the community they hope to be again, focusing on getting the kids the exercise and additional assistance to be better well-rounded members of society.
“Willingness, education, perseverance and determination were the organizations founding principles and we are so proud to be able to bring it back because it’s what the kids need,” said Shirley Womack, co-founder and secretary.
The Morning Sun
In 1996, the Womacks stepped away to dedicate time to Stanford’s new construction business. The program served over 500 kids before it eventually disbanded officially in 2001.
More than 20 years later, the organization will return under a slightly different name, The Annapolis All Stars II, Inc., and will offer seasonal sports, much like a high school schedule.
While the name isn’t exactly the same, the mission is. The Womacks are using coaches and mentors that saw the impact of the All-Stars firsthand. Larry Dobson, a baseball coach for Arundel High School, will be serving as an All-Star baseball coach. Dobson’s 12-year-old son will also be participating in the program.
“From middle school and below these kids don’t have much help around here,” Dobson said in an interview. “I’m from Annapolis and I just love what the program represents. So whatever help or resources I can offer I’m going to bring it.”
Eric Beavers, who participated in the program in the 1990s, said he was excited to help out and show support for the next generation of All-Stars.
“What the All-Stars were to us growing up, what the Womacks have been to our community is just irreplaceable,” Beavers said. “I live in Howard County now but if my kids were younger, I would bring them out to Annapolis just to be a part of All-Stars. Either way, I’m going to help the Womacks when I can because they helped me.”
The organizers are seeking donations and sponsorships to help pay for uniforms and equipment. All contributions are tax-deductible. Checks should be made payable to Annapolis All-Stars II, Inc., Silopanna Road, Annapolis, Md. 21403.
A previous version of this story misstated the cost of registering for tackle football and cheerleading and the name of Stanford Womack Sr. and Shirley Womack’s son who is helping organize the youth sports league.