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County is big enough for two successful soccer clubs [Bits & Pieces]

The base of operations for both organizations is Howard County. One, the Soccer Association of Columbia, was founded in 1971 and has 6,000 players. The other, the Ellicott City Soccer Club, started in 2014 and had a large turnout when it first opened for tryouts. The newer organization has its roots in the old and claims to represent a new philosophy, while the old probably believes that the new philosophy is really an old philosophy.

The Soccer Association of Columbia began in 1971 with its origins in the Columbia Association. An $1,800 loan from CA to SAC started the ball rolling and this organization was off and running. The club, which began as a pure volunteer operation, quickly developed into a volunteer/professional mix. That led to a board of directors, travel programs, clinics, training programs, coach certifications, national recognition, and large and successful tournaments. In 2004, SAC acquired what became Covenant Park, which provided a wonderful venue for its programs. SAC boasts many new programs and is putting together a master plan for future operations. In other words, SAC is here to stay.

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The Ellicott City Soccer Club was made up of a mixture of the old and the new. Opening in April 2014 with a leadership team made up of people with impressive playing and coaching credentials, this new club consists of many who were originally with SAC but claimed that the old organization had lost something as it aged. Touting a new philosophy, the club opened with its first tryouts. Even the club's own leadership was surprised when 600 players tried out for its 26 teams. Ellicott City Soccer Club has an aggressive program built on the philosophy of soccer people serving soccer families, the need to serve every player level including special needs, and the development of the whole individual participant.

Apparently, there is room for two soccer clubs here. At present, SAC is bigger and has Covenant Park on its side. Ellicott City is where SAC was in 1971 and it has an aggressive plan for future growth. SAC has been challenged by new and upcoming clubs in the past and has survived all of them. I think that the Ellicott City club will be with us for years to come.

The bottom line is that we now have two high-quality soccer programs in Howard County, and that can only be good news for soccer in our area.

Celebration of Sports

The County's Celebration of Sports will culminate with the Hall of Fame inductions on Oct. 21 at the Turf Valley Resort. This year's inductees are Shantha Chandra, Marilyn Miceli, Allen Fleming, Vernon Gray, Bernie Dennison and Art McGinnis. As part of the ongoing celebration, the county's Recreation and Parks department will host its 6th annual golf tournament on Oct. 3 at the Timbers at Troy Golf Course in Elkridge. There is still time to register. The entry fee is $340 per team and $85 for an individual. For tickets, call 410-313-1691.

Honor the Anthem

I continue to wonder why people can not take a minute to stand still when our national anthem is being performed. I notice that at sporting events of all levels, people play with their phones, gab, eat or do anything other than observe a moment of silence in tribute to our country. I don't think that's asking too much.

Berger retires from MLL

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Local lacrosse fans might be interested to hear that Stephen Berger has retired from Major League Lacrosse. Both Stephen and his sister, Kelly Rabil, grew up in Columbia. Stephen went to Mount St. Joseph's and then to Washington College. Kelly played lacrosse at Hammond and James Madison. Stephen played 11 years in the MLL, most recently with the Boston Cannons. He assumes the head coaching position at his high school alma mater, and we wish him the best in his new venture.

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