I always place academics ahead of athletics and I always will. That is one reason that I applaud the administration of Howard Community College and the County Administration for their dedication to academics through those marvelous new buildings that now dot the campus. The new Sci-Tech building is the latest example.

It's one of the reasons I always tell high school students to consider HCC as an alternative to a four-year college. Some young people simply aren't ready for the four-year college experience. Personally, I don't believe that I was.


HCC happens to be a great place to get a solid, basic education in a number of fields. It certainly is a great place to start if you are confused as to what you would like to do with your life after college.

Having said that, I must take a moment to address the sports facilities there. They simply need to be upgraded. I realize that during tight-money years this is a tough call, but a new athletic field house is in the Master Plan and has been for some time now. Yet we see no movement there.

The building was renovated in 2001 at a cost of $1.8 million and almost immediately became obsolete. Since then some reconfiguring has been done, but you can only do that so many times.

Howard's athletic program has grown in prominence over the last decade. I have attended the school's athletic banquet almost every year and I am blown away by the accomplishments of the student athletes. The newcomers need better facilities. For now, something as simple as better signage on campus directing people to the current fields would be a step in the right direction.

The school's athletic program has put a favorable light on the school, now it's time to keep that light bright.

Recognizing Earl Lauer

He has already been recognized countless times for his contributions to physical education, fitness and sports as a coach and educator. Now River Hill's Earl Lauer can claim the 2012 National Federation of State High School Associations Coaches Association National Coach of the Year Award for boys cross country. This marks the second time that a River Hill coach has claimed this award, with Bill Stara, who built the Hawks boys soccer program, having received the award in 2005.

Looking over a copy of Earl's resume, which involves stays at three local high schools, is nothing short of amazing. From 1971-1973, he was the Glenelg cross country head coach and outdoor track assistant coach. He followed that up with more than 20 years at Atholton, serving at different points as JV and varsity wrestling coach, indoor and outdoor track coach and as the school's cross country coach. In 1996, he made the move to River Hill when the school opened and has since served as a coach for cross country, wrestling, indoor and outdoor track at different points.

From my count, he is in at least five Halls of Fame, is a member of the Howard County Education Association, the State Teachers Association, the National Education Association, the Maryland Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance among others. And I haven't even mentioned his distinguished military career.

At River Hill alone, his cross country teams have combined for seven state team championships between the boys (four) and girls (three). Over that same time period, he's coached two girls and three boys individual state champions.

I don't believe that I have ever known an individual who has done more for this county through coaching. He was the only recipient of the NFHS coaching award this year that was from the state of Maryland.