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Some Harford parks and rec councils are offering fall sports

While some parks and recreation programs around Harford County are cancelling their seasons, some like Forest Hill Parks and Recreation, are working to have a season with restrictions.
While some parks and recreation programs around Harford County are cancelling their seasons, some like Forest Hill Parks and Recreation, are working to have a season with restrictions. (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)

As high school athletes found out that 2020 fall sports were postponed, those yet in high school were left to wonder whether fall sports seasons offered by Harford County’s parks and recreation councils were to happen.

For some the answer is yes, but for others, no. One thing in common for all though, the football season played in many councils was cancelled.

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“I know you are aware that most of the sports activities in the county are under the rec councils, which are not under the authority of county government, but of course we work very closely with them,” Cindy Mumby said. Mumby is the Director of Harford County Governmental & Community Relations.

“The following rec councils have advised us that they have cancelled fall sports. Emmorton, Aberdeen, Joppatowne and Havre de Grace,” Mumby added. “Under us, we do have the tennis barn and block time is available and Cedar Lane, of course is our property, but it’s operated by the foundation and they are taking reservations and holding tournaments.”

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Harford County government does not run the parks and rec councils, but councils do report intentions to the county.

Emmorton, though, had a change of mind. “Yes sir, we have decided to play fall sports. We worked with a lot of different individuals to develop proper protocols and procedures, Emmorton president Glenn Peacher wrote in an email. “Our initial thought was to postpone, but after careful deliberation, we decided it was important to provide a venue and avenue for kids to participate in a safe and healthy manner.”

Neighboring Bel Air, one of, if not the largest rec council in the county, is also offering fall sports. “We don’t know what the hell we’re doing,” Bel Air president Richard Hicks said jokingly. “We are so confused, we are planning on having fall sports or at least some fall sports.”

Definitely no football or cheerleading Hicks confirmed.Rec soccer is going on for us, field hockey is continuing. Skills and drills for spring tryouts are continuing with fall baseball and fall lacrosse,” Hicks said.

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Hicks acknowledged that some who have registered are from outside, another council, but Bel Air will not allow teams to come and play as a whole. “Based on the numbers, I don’t think there’s been a huge influx, at least for us, Hicks said. “We’re off by, soccer is probably our largest fall sport, we’re off by 50 percent. “We have been averaging 1,100-1,200 rec kids for the last 5-7 years.”

Hicks says he had 50 parents leave recently due to the mask issue. That issue he attributes solely to COVID. Soccer numbers are totaling 600-650.

For those playing soccer, masks are required on the field. “Parents can declare that if they decide it’s a safety risk, they don’t have to wear the mask. Like everything, there’s just a ton of ambiguity with all of this,” Hicks said.

The vote to open or close was a tough one. “It was a tie vote that had to be broken as to close or remain open and the argument for remaining open was simply, we need to try to find something to do that kept the kids in some kind of activity,” Hicks said.

Jarrettsville and Norrisville also confirmed by email they are open for fall sports. Jarrettsville president Mike Freund wrote, “Jarrettsville Rec is open for fall sports registrations. We have COVID protocols in place to keep our athletes safe which is our top priority as a recreation council. Parents have been receptive to the idea of continuing youth athletics in our area as it appears the mentality is to push forward and keep kids active vs sitting at home on electronic devices. Our recreation council has embraced offering what sports we can to the community with safety being our top priority for our athletes and their families.”

Norrisville president Keith Hartlaub wrote, “I am in favor of allowing Fall sports to go on and believe that the parents are capable of making that decision for themselves and for their children. As a coach, father, and pastor, I recognize the risks involved yet I also see the toll that isolation has taken on all of us. We are doing our best to follow the guidelines that have been established and will continue on with our Fall season.”

Havre de Grace was one of the original four to report that it was not offering sports. “We have a Havre de Grace recreation committee that’s a 501 C3 and we meet normally every month except July, August and September. With the virus, we were not able to do that and we were keeping in touch with phone calls and social distancing meetings,” Havre de Grace president John Narvell said.

“With everything that’s going on, our charter says safety, learning and teaching and the kids having fun. And with that in mind of safety, all things considered, we just couldn’t have any more activities until at such time that the indicators were to the point that it was safe to do it,” Narvell said. “We voted, our board of directors, to not have any activities and to re-evaluate every two weeks or so. We have an open mind, were not just closing down arbitrarily. It isn’t a matter, we don’t care if somebody points the finger at us, the idea is the children are safe. That’s the number one priority.”

As for the other councils, email request for open/closed verification were not answered. Those councils are Belcamp, Churchville, Edgewood, Fallston, Forest Hill, Hickory/Fountain Green and North Harford.

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