Annapolitans kick off school year with drug-free day at Truxton Park


It was hard to tell what was more fun to watch: the all-star basketball game involving the the best players from an Annapolis city youth league or a bunch of politicians trying to play softball.

At least the basketball players knew how to play. The politicians did their best, but just couldn't muster enough talent to beat the Drug-Free All-Stars, a professional team that travels the country and raises money to fight drugs through sports.

"People like to see politicians humiliate themselves," said Del. Michael Busch, D-District 30. "This way, we can do it in a fun and All-American way." Mr. Busch's team lost 15-9.

But winning on the field or on the basketball court wasn't the reason hundreds of people showed up Saturday at Truxton Park to play games, march in a parade or watch karate demonstrations. They came to once again denounce drugs and the violence that goes along with them.

All summer, the Annapolis Mayor's Office of Community Service and Substance Abuse has been working with children and teen-agers to give them a summer alternative to the streets. Saturday's event was the culmination of the summer program.

"This is the close of the program, but a kickoff to a drug-free school year," said Darius Stanton, who works with the mayor's community service office.

One of the highlights of the afternoon was the basketball all-star game, which involved the best players from all age-groups from the summer league. Darius Stanton's father, Leslie, coached the Celtics to a 20-point victory.

"I'm proud of these kids," he said. "We have a bunch of good kids. All you hear about is bad stuff about teen-agers, but I'm pleased with my group."

One of Mr. Stanton's players, Alhamisi Simms, 17, of Parole, said he plays on the team because he gets to travel and see other schools. "We play other kids from all over," he said.

The other highlight was the third annual Mayor's Trophy Cup softball game, which pitted hapless politicians and other officials, known as the "Lawmakers," against a group of professionals.

The Drug-Free All-Stars was started four years ago by Annapolis resident Gerard Ferri as a nonprofit foundation that travels the country playing exhibition games to raise money for drug prevention programs and to heighten awareness about the dangers of illegal drug use.

Mr. Busch's softball team was no match for the All-Stars. Although the "Lawmakers" recruited a team that included police officers and representatives from local recreation groups, it didn't help. The team did worse this year than last, when it lost 13-7.

"It's a good cause," Mr. Busch said. "Everyone works real hard to give kids an alternative to drugs and alcohol."

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad