Futsal, tennis and other happenings in Howard


THINGS GOING on, hither, thither, recently, in the near future:

FUTSAL: Add a team of 9- and 10-year-old boys from the western county to the list of Howard County soccer players who have won regional championships, thus earning a shot at a national title.

The Thunder Soccer Club's under-10 Cobras, coached by Jason Griggs, went to Pittsburgh and won the northeast region title in futsal, that Brazilian-born, five-man form of indoor soccer that uses no walls, a smaller, deader ball and puts a premium on skill on a basketball-type floor.

First, the Cobras swept five games in a one-day Maryland tournament, outscoring opponents 35-7. In Pittsburgh, they beat a Pennsylvania team, 13-8, lost 6-5 to a Massachusetts side, then beat Chantilly (Va.) twice, 8-3, and again for the title, 2-1, scoring the game-winner with about five minutes left.

They're planning to compete in mid-July for national honors at the, believe it or not, 18th annual national age-group tournament run by the U.S. Futsal Federation in Anaheim, Calif.

Mark Capps, team manager, said the club is hoping to raise $20,000 to cover all expenses of playing in Anaheim. If you would like to donate or be a sponsor, call Pat Byer, 410-442-5838.

The 12-player Cobras, whose core players have been together four years, play seven-a-side outdoor soccer from April to November and have been competing in indoor this winter, in addition to training in futsal.

FIELDS: Soccer and lacrosse teams that use county rec-and-parks fields will have to wait two weeks longer than normal to get onto those fields because of the winter's exceptional snowfall and extended cold.

The department reported Friday that it will not open "multipurpose fields" that have no lights until April 15, with unlighted fields being closed a week longer. Baseball and softball diamonds are expected to open around April 1.

"We just have to allow extra time for grass to take hold," said Janell Coffman, a sports supervisor and the department's marketer. "The extreme winter means the growing season is behind schedule."

The public school system will play it by ear on when to open its fields, said spokesman Chuck Parvis. Muddy conditions also mean crews cannot work on fields as early as usual, he said.

The school system has a central number, if you want to check to see if those fields are ready: 410-313-6827.

By the way, getting onto any publicly owned fields prematurely is not only poor sportsmanship but also can produce legal problems for you.

TENNIS: The Owen Brown Tennis Bubble in Columbia, flattened by the Feb. 16-17 snowstorm, is scheduled to reopen for business tomorrow.

Nice recovery by the Columbia Park and Recreation Association, its insurer and the bubble's maker. Of course, the Columbia Tennis Committee, an advisory group, still has the right idea: a permanent facility.

SPECIAL OLYMPICS: Howard County participants did nicely at last month's statewide Winter Games at Wisp Ski Resort in Garrett County, showing yet again the art of the possible with hard work and sound leadership. A squad of 28 athletes and coaches took part. Among those who did notably well:

Jennifer Andes took gold in Alpine slalom, giant slalom, and novice giant slalom. Wayne Slifker had gold in slalom and giant slalom. Brian Vary took gold in downhill and unified advanced slalom. Kyle Archer took gold in the 100- and 500-meter cross-country events.

MARCH 30: Mark the date on your calendar, and try to lend support to two ongoing fund- and consciousness raisers conducted by Howard countians.

At 9 a.m., you can take part at Centennial Park in the third Columbia's Cure Run and Ride. It is an annual 5-kilometer run/walk, one-mile kid's run, or 25K bike ride to benefit the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

Former Centennial soccer standout Brock Yetso operates this event in memory of his mother, who died of colon cancer. More than 1,100 took part in the first two events, raising $45,000. Information: www.columbiacure.com or 410-964-0202.

Then, all day, a number of the East's best college women's soccer teams and the WUSA's Washington Freedom and Boston Breakers, will compete at the Maryland Soccerplex in Germantown in the seventh annual Kicks Against Breast Cancer tournament.

Columbia resident Louise Waxler, a longtime soccer leader who works for the Freedom, set up the event to honor a soccer friend from Columbia, Claudia Mayer, who died of the disease in 1996 at 47. Information: www.kicksagainstbreastcan.com

Call the writer at 410-332-6525 or send e-mail to lowell.sunderland@baltsun.com.

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