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Mike McQuaid, North Carroll Recreation Council's 2016 Volunteer of the Year, is a vivid example of how kids can wrap their dad up in volunteerism.

The 49-year-old resident of Hampstead began his rec volunteer days by coaching his 4-year-old son's Gage's T-ball team 18 years ago. Two sons later, he's still at it.

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While be began by coaching baseball, youth soccer came on the scene about two years later. It quickly competed for his time. But McQuaid liked coaching baseball and continued coaching the teams on which sons Gage and Dylan played. After a time, he was even elected Vice President of the Manchester Baseball Association. But change was coming.

"When Gage was about 12, I was elected vice president. But right after that, my sons didn't want to play baseball anymore," McQuaid said with a laugh.

McQuaid served out his term and then spent all of his time coaching soccer. He has coached it for 16 years now, handling both in-house recreation and travel soccer teams.

While those travel teams originally played in the Baltimore Beltway Soccer League, they have now moved the more conveniently located Central Maryland Soccer Association. Gage is now in college, but his dad continued coaching Dylan's teams and those of his youngest son, Hunter.

McQuaid explained that coaching two travel soccer teams can be time consuming. Counting the teams' two-nights-per-week practices, the weekend games and travel time, he says he might spend as many as 25 hours per week on his volunteer chores during the soccer season.

"Friday was my only day off, but I enjoyed every minute of [soccer]," McQuaid said.

And, that work hasn't gone to waste.

He says has been pretty successful as a coach, noting that, "I have a nice little shelf, with a lot of trophies on it."

Two of those championships stand out most in his mind.

About 10 years ago, he took son Dylan's under-9 travel team to the always tough Battlefield Blast Soccer Tournament which is held in Gettysburg each summer. He felt it would give him a good idea about how well, the team would do in the fall. This was the first time he had ever taken a team to a soccer tournament as a head coach.

He got his career off to a rousing start.

"I had no idea how we would do in that tournament. But we won it and went something like 6-0. Then we went 7-1-0 in the Baltimore Beltway League that season," he recalled.

Interestingly, he notes that five boys from that youth squad played on North Carroll's Class 1A state championship soccer team of 2015.

In the fall of 2015, McQuaid took son Hunter's under-12 team to the Dillsburg Soccer Tournament.

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"We won the three Saturday games, and that put us in the A Division playoffs. Then we played twice against a team from New Jersey. We won both games on shootouts for the championship," he said.

To this day, McQuaid finds it difficult to say which of those two North Carroll youth travel soccer teams was better.

Over the past six years, he has also attended to other duties. McQuaid handles the travel teams' equipment and does field preparation such as lining, prior to games. He also helps with the teams' scheduling.

And now, he helps out the soccer program at Manchester Valley High School.

He began when Gage played there. McQuaid works with the soccer practices by running drills. He also organizes and helps runs a summer soccer camp for the players in which as many as 50 boys participate.

But over all the years in which he worked as a volunteer, he never expected to be recognized in October.

"I was pleasantly happy after I was notified. A lot of people volunteer [in rec], you get into a grind and the work just becomes a habit. You really don't expect anything. So when you get accolades for doing it, it's really nice," McQuaid said.

He also enjoys watching the youngsters grow up and develop over the years, and he draws satisfaction from the influence he had in that maturity.

"You enjoy the friendships you develop over time, and you enjoy the kids' successes," he said. "As they grow up, you are a mentor to them."

Right now, he is uncertain about whether he'll coach youth soccer again this coming fall.

"I hope Hunter makes the high school team," McQuaid said. "But right now, I don't know if I'll be a parent on the sideline or help out [the team] on the sideline."

Perhaps it will be both.

410-857-7896

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