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Howard County announces 2018 Community Sports Hall of Fame induction class

Rich Francis, a member of the 2018 Howard County Community Sports Hall of Fame induction class, has been involved with Howard County Youth Program (HCYP) softball since 1995.
Rich Francis, a member of the 2018 Howard County Community Sports Hall of Fame induction class, has been involved with Howard County Youth Program (HCYP) softball since 1995. (Photo courtesy of Rich Francis)

HOWARD COUNTY, MD — Bobby Farace, Kathy Reed and Rich Francis will be the latest inductees into the Community Sports Hall of Fame, the Howard County’s Department of Recreation and Parks announced Monday. The three members of the 2018 class was chosen because of “their commitment or notable contribution to community sports in Howard County,” according to a press release recognizing the individuals.

“It was very humbling,” said Farace, who has been the Howard County Vipers wrestling head coach for the past eight seasons. “And just being able to give back to the community and give back to the sport that I grew up and loved. Just growing up all of my life and what it did for my family. It’s just an honor.”

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Farace, a Wilde Lake graduate, voluntarily became involved with the Vipers, a youth wrestling organization based in Columbia, around 2003 when his oldest son, Tony, expressed an interest in wrestling. Farace began as a recreational instructor before becoming the travel head coach in 2010.

Farace has since developed into a role model for these young wrestlers, instilling lessons they can carry with them long after their time with the Vipers. He preaches incremental improvement, both on the mat and in everyday life, and “doing the right thing” instead of worrying about wins and losses and other individual accomplishments.

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With both of his sons, Tony and Kyle, through the program, Farace has recently decided to step away from the team. However, he’s confident the values he established will remain at the forefront of the organization.

“It’s like life: whatever you put into it, that’s what you’re going to get out of it,” Farace said. “They’re going to be very polite, respectful young men and women that come out of our room. That’s just how we run things up there.”

Bobby Farace (right) was the head coach of the Howard County Vipers wrestling program for the past eight seasons.
Bobby Farace (right) was the head coach of the Howard County Vipers wrestling program for the past eight seasons. (Photo courtesy of Bobby Farace)

Francis, meanwhile, has been a part of Howard County Youth Program (HCYP) softball since 1995.

His involvement with the organization began shortly after his daughter began playing on the 8U team. His wife used to play softball, so she signed up to coach. But when his wife became pregnant and could no longer lead the team, Francis took on her responsibilities.

“I stepped in and I haven’t stopped yet,” Francis said.

For more than 20 years, Francis has overseen almost every aspect of the HCYP, which includes three levels of competition for girls ages 6 through 18 and has built the largest recreational softball program in central Maryland. He assumed the role of HCYP softball commissioner in 2001 and 2002 before becoming a member of the HCYP Softball Advisory Board, a position he still holds. Plus, he’s been umpiring and training umpires in fast-pitch softball for the past 18 years.

Francis said the best part of his involvement is the relationships he’s fostered with coaches and athletes through the years.

“I always tell people when I show up to the field that this isn’t work for me. This is my therapy because it just lets me kind of relive the days when I was coaching,” Francis said. “Some of the young ladies out there might do something that puts a smile on my face and makes me chuckle. I really enjoy doing it.”

Reed made an invaluable impact for Western Howard County Youth Baseball and Softball. She started as the director of softball in 1999, where she went on to organize countless teams, coordinate alliances with other leagues around the county and transition the program from modified slow pitch to fast-pitch to better prepare the players for high school softball.

Reed spent 12 years as the softball director before becoming the concessions and event coordinator in 2011. And for the next five seasons, she spent nearly every weekend running the concessions at Western Regional Park in Woodbine. She retired in 2016.

“I loved every minute of it,” Reed said. “I just met some wonderful people that have stayed in my life, and I would have never had the opportunity to meet them and follow them in the Howard County Times. I did it every week, and then I would look for my kids to be in there. Not that I personally had anything to do with it, but they stuck with our program and they’re doing great now. It was a good time, 17 years, but it was time for me to move on and get some young blood in there.”

Farace, Francis and Reed will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the 16th annual Celebration of Sports on Oct. 16 at the Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center in Ellicott City. Tickets for the event are $42 per person and can be purchased at the Recreation and Parks headquarters in Columbia. The Community Sports Hall of Fame is also located at the Recreation and Parks headquarters and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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For more information, visit howardcountymd.gov/halloffame or call 410-313-1691.

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