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Annual Carroll County summer field hockey skills camp goes on, with modified rules

More than 50 girls attended Gayle Taylor’s annual Conditioning/Skills Field Hockey Camp this week at Coppermine 4 Seasons in Hampstead, even with its modified daily activities and social distancing guidelines.

The camp, now in its 17th year, attracts players entering grades 9-12 and usually coincides with the week leading up to fall high school sports tryouts. There won’t be fall sports this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but that didn’t stop Taylor and her handful of camp directors from putting on their usual week-long program that concludes Friday.

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“I was concerned, but in my head I was like, ‘Should I? Shouldn’t I? What’s the risk?‘” Taylor said as camp began Wednesday evening. “What about the uprising juniors and seniors that want to play in college?”

Taylor said her fears were confirmed when the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association announced Monday it was postponing high school sports for the remainder of 2020. But her summer camp wasn’t going away, and Taylor said she had even had to set a limit on attendees this year.

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“They want to do something, you know?” she said. “We’re not giving up on them. We’re still going to give them options to get showcased, get seen.”

Taylor said this year’s camp attracted girls from Carroll, Frederick, and Howard counties, as well as players from area private schools. Each girl’s temperature is checked before a daily session, and again if they leave the area and return. Face coverings are required for campers and adults alike.

Taylor’s camp directors this summer include Ashley Berrol (Winters Mill), Rosalia Cappadora (Manchester Valley), Georgi Chiavacci (Winters Mill), sisters Allison and Kaitlyn Dudley (Francis Scott Key), Jensyn Koontz (North Carroll), and Hailey Poisal (Westminster).

Jalyn Kelsey, a senior-to-be at Manchester Valley High School, started coming to Taylor’s camp when she was an eighth-grader. On Wednesday, Kelsey sported a face covering like the rest of her fellow campers and went through the early paces led by Cappadora, a former Mavericks standout.

Cappadora, the Times Field Hockey Player of the Year in 2015 who won national championships at Shippensburg, had campers running a mile’s worth of laps around Coppermine’s roadside field. After some stretching in rows and doing their best to stay 6 feet apart, Cappadora had the group work on footwork and technique by using the popular dance song “Cupid Shuffle.”

Stick work and game action followed, and Kelsey took it all in stride.

Jalyn Kelsey, left, and Sarah Dubsky, both incoming seniors at Manchester Valley, pass balls during Gayle Taylor's annual summer field hockey camp at Coppermine 4 Seasons sports complex in Hampstead Wednesday, August 6, 2020.
Jalyn Kelsey, left, and Sarah Dubsky, both incoming seniors at Manchester Valley, pass balls during Gayle Taylor's annual summer field hockey camp at Coppermine 4 Seasons sports complex in Hampstead Wednesday, August 6, 2020. (Dylan Slagle)

“It was really bittersweet, especially since it’s my senior year,” Kelsey said. “I’m still holding out hope that we’ll have a season in the spring. But I couldn’t imagine not coming to this camp. I’ve done it since before high school. I just love seeing my friends before we step on the pitch to play each other.”

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