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After months of planning, Thurmont Little League’s (TLL)opening day arrived on Saturday, April 10. Unfortunately, due to several days of rainy weather, the full slate of games scheduled for the day were forced to be postponed. However, despite the soggy conditions, and lack of games, the league proceeded with the festivities and a wonderful time was had by all.

The day started off with a welcoming address by League President Keith Myers, who kicked off the 70th season of TLL baseball. In an effort to socially distance and help with crowd control, the league held dual ceremonies this year. At 10:00 a.m., players from the T-ball and instructional divisions were introduced, along with their coaches and team moms. The second round of introductions were held at 3:30 p.m. for the minor and major divisions.

On hand to throw out the first pitch for both ceremonies was Sherry Myers, owner of Thurmont Kountry Kitchen. Selected for the amazing work that her family has done for the community, Sherry stated, “I felt so honored as I stood on the field representing our business. It was so awesome to see all the players walk across the field as they were introduced.” After receiving her ball in a commemorative holder for display, Sherry was kind enough to present the league with a donation.

Next, the National Anthem was sung by Allison Balanc, who honored our country with a beautiful rendition. Players Carson Fry, Ethan Tokar, and Connor Smith led all players in reciting the Little League Pledge, while Luke Humerick and Pam Eyler led everyone else in the Parent/Volunteer pledge. To close the ceremony, league Vice President John Code thanked everyone for coming and also recognized the many volunteers who have made the league so successful over the past 70 seasons. A special moment of silence was held for one of those individuals, Ronnie Eyler, who passed away in December. The Thurmont Yankees minor and instructional teams will be playing in his honor this year.

After the ceremonies, families and players stayed around to enjoy delicious BBQ by The Sauced Savage, ice cream from Antietam Dairy, and many other treats from the TLL concession stand. Pivot Physical Therapy and Thurmont Cub Scouts were on hand with tables to provide information about their services. Other highlights of the day included a photo booth, complete with balloon archway and fun photo props courtesy of Carrie’s Craft Room.

Fundraising is always a big part of the opening day ceremony, and this year was no exception due to the loss of revenue from missing out on last season due to COVID-19. The community showed up in a big way to support the league this year, as the basket raffles and spiritwear tables generated over $7,000 for the league. People were excited to get their TLL t-shirts, masks, hats, and hoodies and to take a chance at one of the 17 wonderful prizes. The Grand Prize was a DeWalt Tool Set, valued over $700 dollars, generously donated by Hessong Bridge Contractors. The winner was Shaun Hamlette. The league would like to thank all the local businesses that donated to its baskets, without this support they could not have generated the interest and raised the money that they did. To view a full list, please check out the Thurmont Little League page on Facebook. The next big event will be the annual hit-a-thon on May 1. This is the largest annual fundraiser for the league and helps raise money for uniforms, field maintenance, and everything else the league needs to make a great experience for its players and fans.

Finally, on Tuesday, April 13, the league was able to kick off its actual game schedule. After several days of games being postponed due to rain, the newly refinished fields were finally deemed to be playable. The first two games to be played were the Majors Orioles vs the Brewers, with the Orioles coming out on top. On the other field, the Minors Nationals were victorious over the Cubs.

Everyone was extremely excited to be back out there, and the fields looked great! Come on out and watch a game this year to support the players, coaches, and volunteers as TLL celebrates 70 seasons of baseball!

Sherry Myers has the honor of throwing out the first pitch for Thurmont Little League’s 70th season

A new and exciting free baton-twirling course is being offered by the Catoctin-Ettes, Inc. This four-week course is for the beginning baton-twirling student, ages five and up. Batons are available and loaned free for class time and are also on hand for optional purchases. Participation in the course costs absolutely nothing! 

The classes will be held on Wednesday evenings outdoors at the Emmitsburg Antique Mall parking lot, beginning on May 12, 2021, from 6:00-6:45 p.m. (A dance-pom course will also run for four weeks beginning May 12, from 7:00-7:45 p.m. at the same location, open to ages seven and up.) 

All COVID-19 procedures will be in place, with required social distancing throughout all classes. Pre-registration is required.  

During the course, basic twirling skills and marching techniques will be presented in class. Certificates will be awarded at the end of the four-week session. There is no obligation to continue twirling once the course has concluded.

The classes will be taught by the group’s director, Donna Landsperger, who has directed the marching unit in twirling, color guard arts, and pom poms and its competitive teams since 1976. They have captured titles at the local, state, regional, and national levels. 

Blair Garrett

Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball is escorted through Emmitsburg after their NEC Championship win against Wagner College.

Men’s Basketball

It’s been a remarkable turnaround for Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball.

The Mount defeated Bryant University March 9 in a close game to grab its sixth Northeast Conference (NEC) Championship. The now-reigning NEC Champions have proven that this program has come a long way since major personnel changes were made back in 2018.

Two seasons ago when head coach Dan Engelstad took over a struggling program, there were a lot of questions for a young coach on how long things might take to get going.

Engelstad’s lineup was the youngest in the nation, entirely made up of underclassmen. That young coach grew with his young team, and now the Mount is a threatening squad for any Division I opponent, and they have continued to prove that throughout this season.

The Mount’s NEC title secured their bid to compete in the NCAA Tournament, where they battled Texas Southern University in a play-in game to compete against tournament No. 1 seed, University of Michigan.

With March Madness, crazy upsets, wild finishes, and unforeseeable dramatics are almost expected. To maintain consistency among the top teams in the country is no easy feat.

Mount St. Mary’s just missed out on the opportunity to take a run at the National Title, falling to Texas Southern in a razor-close finish, 52-60.

The game capped off an abridged, disjointed year where cancellations and postponed games became the norm. Battling through all of the quarantines and difficulties that poses for practices, the Mount still had a lot of positives to take away from this season. 

This was the Mount’s sixth appearance in the NCAA tournament, and the first under Engelstad.

Winning the NEC Championship alone makes this season a historic one for Mount St. Mary’s basketball, as they captured their sixth Championship.

Emmitsburg got to briefly celebrate with the Mount on the team’s way home from the NEC Championship game, escorted by Vigilant Hose Co. fire trucks and cheering fans. 

The season may have ended earlier than the team would have liked, but there’s plenty to look forward to for next season. The team has just one senior, giving Mount basketball fans high hopes for another NEC Championship run come next season.  

Women’s Basketball

This season for Mount St. Mary’s women’s basketball has been one for the ages.

Following the team’s stellar regular season was a dominant NEC tournament, where they defeated fourth seed Farleigh Dickson and second seed Wagner College for their fourth NEC Championship in team history.

The championship win over Wagner was particularly sweet, absolutely dismantling a team who had defeated them twice the week prior.

Mount St. Mary’s 70-38 victory over Wagner was the largest margin of victory in an NEC Championship game since 2013, proving that the Mount has put in the work over an arduous 2020-21 season.

The Mount’s balanced attack saw four different players break double-digit scoring, and the team’s suffocating defense held Wagner to just 12 points over the final two quarters. Aryna Taylor and Rebecca Lee led the charge, scoring 18 points each in the victory.

It doesn’t stop there for Mount St. Mary’s, though. This NEC Title is a special one, as it clinches the team’s first ticket to the NCAA Tournament in 26 years.

The team’s last run at a national title was back in 1995, when they took on Alabama, falling in the first round.

A win this postseason would have been a university first. The team faced stiff competition in an intrastate, best-of-the-best game against tournament No. 2 seed University of Maryland.

Mount St. Mary’s fell 45-98 in the first round, but it’s been a season to remember. The team has seized its opportunity for NEC glory in 2021, following last season’s NEC Semifinals cancellation due to COVID-19.

Both Mount squads enter next season as defending NEC Champs for the first time since 1995.

Blair Garrett

A close community has the power to do amazing things.

Communities find a way to lift people up in times of great struggle.

Colan Droneburg, a 17-year-old football player at Catoctin High School, took a seemingly innocuous hit to the head in a scrimmage on March 5.

Droneburg ran off the field dizzy and nauseous and fell unconscious on the sideline. Teammates surrounded him, and medical professionals rushed to his side. He was eventually flown via Maryland State Police helicopter to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma.

Droneburg was temporarily placed into a medically induced coma due to his brain injuries. “He had bleeding on both sides of the brain, but more so on the right,” Wade Droneburg, Colan’s brother said. “He’s doing physical therapy for his balance, neck, and strength.”

Droneburg has had to see neurologists for headaches, trouble with his vision, and amnesia, but with time and continued therapy, the family is optimistic that his condition will improve.    

Colan’s cousin, Diane Bowers, set up a GoFundMe page for Colan’s recovery and upcoming medical expenses, with a $15,000 goal. The community smashed that goal in record time, donating $5,000 in the first hour, and beating the goal in just over a day.

To date, the total donations are over $27,000, with nearly 500 unique donors. “Thurmont is so wonderful, along with all of Frederick County,” Bowers said. “If you look at the donors, there are students from every school. It’s been a heartfelt experience.”

The Droneburg family has felt the love from the community following such a tough year. “It’s been amazing just to know that these people who we know and don’t know were willing to help us in any way possible,” Wade said. “We as a family really do appreciate it more than they realize.”

Times like these galvanize a community, and so many people coming together to help a family in a difficult situation shows the character of the people in Northern Frederick County. Something like this is bigger than football, and everyone’s efforts to support the Droneburg family has made a huge difference.

Despite a tragic end to his senior football season and a lot of challenges ahead for recovery, Droneburg has been making strides every day. “It’s coming along, and he’s getting memories back,” Wade said.

Brain injuries can be tremendously unpredictable, and the effects can be permanent depending on the severity of the injury. Fortunately for Droneburg, he has a great support system behind him, and a whole team of football players cheering him on.

Droneburg will be the team’s greatest source of inspiration throughout the rest of the adjusted season. Colan will be fighting right alongside the Cougars over the coming months.

“He’s got an appointment at the end of March for another scan, and in April he goes for a neurological evaluation and more going forward,” Wade said. “It’s going to be a long road.”

Between Droneburg’s physical therapy and hospital bills, the family could use all the help they can get. To donate, visit their GoFundMe page online at: www.gofundme.com/f/help-colan-recover-catoctin-football-injury.

Senior Colan Droneburg suits up for the Catoctin Cougars.

After a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Thurmont Little League was excited to kick off its 2021 spring season. As the weather began to warm up and all the snow and ice melted, players and coaches resumed practicing in early March. The response to baseball this year was extremely positive, even with the pandemic, as the league will be fielding 2 Intermediate Division teams, 4 Major Division teams, 5 Minor Division teams, 7 Instructional/Coach Pitch teams, and 7 T-ball teams.

The Major Division kicked off the year by participating in the 3rd Annual Brunswick Little League Garel L. Hauver Memorial Tournament. Its namesake, Mr. Hauver, had a passion for sports, but especially baseball. He wrote about sports in the Brunswick Citizen for over 40 years and was an active member of Brunswick Little League for over 30 years as a player and coach. The tournament took place the weekend of March 27-28 and featured 16 area little league squads. Thurmont was well represented by its four teams, and it was a great way for the players to get back into the swing (pun intended) of things.

The opening day ceremonies will kick off the start of game play for all of the other divisions and will take place on Saturday, April 10. Led by master of ceremonies Brian Mo, formerly of 99.9 WFRE, all players and coaches will receive on-field introductions. This will be followed up by a special performance of the National Anthem, and the throwing out of the first pitch by the Myers family from Thurmont Kountry Kitchen. Thurmont Little League spirit wear will be on sale in many different styles and sizes, along with the ever-popular discount cards for local restaurants. Great raffle baskets will be available with many valued at over $100 each, as well as a 50-50 cash drawing. Also, on hand for the day will be food from The Sauced Savage BBQ and ice cream from Antietam Dairy. Bring the family out for a fun-filled day celebrating 70 years of Thurmont Little League.

As the 2021 spring season approaches, Thurmont Little League is looking to the future, yet reflecting on the past as well. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the league. Although COVID-19 restrictions will not allow for the grand celebration deserving of such a milestone, the board of directors is still working hard to plan an exciting year for players, coaches, and families. The league is looking for information to recognize any past board presidents from the 1950s-2000s. Additionally, anyone with photos from the 1950s-1990s, especially from league championships, please feel free to pass them along to the current president, Keith Myers (keithmyers07@gmail.com).

After an off-season, filled with field renovations and improvements to the grounds, the league is now moving full-speed ahead for its opening day festivities. This year, opening day will be held on Saturday, April 10. DJ Brian Mo will be on hand once again as Master of Ceremonies, presiding over player introductions, the National Anthem, and the throwing out of the first pitch. Throwing out the first pitch this year will be the Myers family from Thurmont Kountry Kitchen. Their dedication and service to the town of Thurmont, as well as their constant support of the league, have been greatly appreciated, especially during the pandemic.

There is still lots of other work to be done before the season starts. Evaluations for the minor and major division will be held, along with a draft for each. Fundraising efforts are continuing as well, with the league accepting donations for its annual basket raffle and continuing to sell spiritwear items, such as t-shirts, hats, and hoodies. The league is once again selling discount cards, which are always a popular item. For $10.00, you can purchase a card for unlimited usage at many of your favorite local restaurants, everything from a free drink to 20 percent off your order. Please contact the league on Facebook or by email at tllnetwork@gmail.com for more information.

Finally, a fundraising night will be held at Roy Rogers on Friday, March 19, with proceeds from drive-thru orders going to the league. Come on out for a great meal to support the Thurmont Little League.

As always, the league is continually looking for volunteers to help with coaching, concessions, and umpiring. An umpiring clinic will be held at Leisner Field on Sunday, March 21, at 9:00 a.m., with lunch provided. If you are interested in seeing what is involved, please make plans to attend. This is open to all adults and youth ages 13 and up. It is a great opportunity for retirees who love the game or high school athletes looking to gain some volunteer hours. Please contact Umpire in Chief Blaine Young at beyoungjr@comcast.net for more information.

Everyone is excited for the upcoming season, in hopes of adding a return to normalcy for players and families. Thurmont Little League can’t wait to see everyone at the fields.

Thurmont Little League’s upgraded bullpen area.

Blair Garrett

Catoctin High School athletics are pushing on amidst a turbulent spring season.

It’s no secret that difficult decisions have affected student-athletes across the country. Many seniors lost a chance to represent their schools last spring with the onset of a pandemic, unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes, in the name of public safety.

As COVID cases have begun trending downward again, high school sports have returned to action with notable restrictions. Capacity limits and mandatory masks are standard, and most fans have to find alternative means to support their hometown team.

Fortunately, Catoctin High School has made it possible for people to catch high school sports online, as they live stream both boys and girls basketball on YouTube, which can be found on the CHS athletics homepage.

Players, coaches, and any bystanders have to wear masks during the game, and the abridged schedule is limiting the amount of games and exposure students are having competing against other schools. 

Both the boys and girls basketball teams only recently returned to action, following guidelines, and their shortened season has already come to a close.

Catoctin football is set to begin its six-week season come the first week of March, and the preseason has already hit a few bumps in the road. CHS temporarily suspended practices in February, following a positive COVID-19 test in the program. Students and staff were advised to take extra precautions to avoid further delays in the already pushed-back schedule. 

If all goes according to plan, March may bring back a sense of normalcy most students haven’t had in well over a year. Fall sports like soccer, volleyball, and field hockey are all kicking off their respective seasons. Unlike basketball, outdoor sports have the potential for social distancing, so spectators may have access to see games in-person.

Widespread distribution of the vaccine has brought some hope that high school sports will finish out the spring season on a high note.

For the athletes, this year will have a different feel to it, playing fewer games and not having the opportunity to compete for state championships. The Cougars’ 2019 state championship title in football remains as the last one to this day.

The defending champions will have to battle for county supremacy instead of playing to state’s top teams in their division until next season.

Other sports still slated on the Cougars athletic calendar include golf, tennis, and cross-country.

More information on dates and times can be found on the Catoctin Athletic Calendar. All dates and times for games and practices are subject to change.

You can also catch games as they play live through Catoctin’s YouTube channel: CHSAthletics FCPS.

A local group of 11 players and three coaches from Thurmont Little League have teamed up to plan the baseball trip of a lifetime in August 2021.  The team, consisting of players ages 10 through 12, will participate in the prestigious Cooperstown Dreams Park Tournament in Cooperstown, New York. This tournament is well known nationwide and attracts hundreds of youth baseball teams each summer. 

This annual event has a long waiting list and is difficult to get into. However, with the help of Coach Jeff Potter from the Potter Baseball Tour, the team was able to secure a spot in this summer’s event. The team will play under the name Potter Pirates Black. Thurmont Little League has partnered with Potter Baseball on several activities over the past few years, including a charity kickball tournament to benefit the Fuse Teen Center and a painting project on the exterior of the Thurmont Food Bank. They are excited to partner with Coach Potter and his organization again for this amazing opportunity. The local team will consist of players Jay Code, Brennan Conrad, Chase Cregger, Carson Fry, Mason Hewitt, Lane Koenig, Nathaniel Morlan, Justice Myers, Theron Rolko, Hunter Sanbower, and Tanner Shorb. Manager John Code and assistant coaches Keith Myers and Chris Morlan will accompany the team to Cooperstown, along with umpire Blaine Young and Coach Potter.

Players and coaches get to stay on-site for a week, lodging at Baseball Village. They will be spending quality time together, meeting players from all over the country, and, of course, playing a lot of baseball. They will be provided with daily meals and custom uniforms for the tournament. The team will get to partake in an opening and closing ceremony, skills competitions, and a minimum of seven games. Other benefits include Pin trading, personalized baseball cards for the players, tournament rings, and a trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum. There will be digital webcasts of the games and highlights as well for those wishing to follow along at home.

The trip comes with a hefty cost, so the team is fundraising and seeking support from the community to help them fulfill their dreams. They are asking the community to consider supporting the team at a fundraiser or by donating to the group. Many efforts are already underway such as Roy Rogers and Thurmont Kountry Kitchen donating a portion of their proceeds from scheduled fundraiser nights. In addition, there has also been a Pampered Chef Party fundraiser and a Super Bowl grid fundraiser in support of the team. A Go Fund Me page has also been established as a method of collecting online donations. For more information on how you can help support this worthy cause, please contact team manager, John Code at jcode8@yahoo.com.

Thurmont Little League (TLL) has stayed busy during its brief offseason. When the fall season ended, construction immediately began on improvements around the complex. The most noticeable difference is the addition of TLL’s new sign at the entrance just off Westview Drive. This sign was made possible by several local sponsors and was a 100-percent donation to the league. Another major improvement was new fencing for the bullpen areas, which was also made possible by a donation from Long Fence Company. The league is extremely grateful for these generous donations to help spruce things up. Finally, the work on the Minor and Major League fields to improve playing conditions is nearly complete. Despite some small delays during the December snowstorm, sod was laid down and things are on track for both fields to be up and ready for the start of the spring season.

Registrations opened on January 1 for the upcoming season. Players from ages 4-13 are now able to register for the appropriate division, from T-ball all the way up through Intermediate. If you still have a credit remaining on your account from the canceled 2020 season, you can apply it to this year’s registration. Registration will close on February 21, so don’t miss out. Visit www.TLLBaseball.com today!

Thurmont Little League is seeking volunteers for the upcoming season, including managers, coaches, team moms, and umpires. These are great opportunities for retirees looking to give back to the community with their free time, parents with flexible work schedules due to COVID-19, or even high school students looking to fulfill their community services hours. The league offers various types of training opportunities, including free umpire clinics. If you are interested in volunteering, please reach out to the league at theTLLnetwork@gmail.com.

Finally, don’t forget that spirit wear is available for these colder months. Hooded sweatshirts, long sleeve t-shirts, and wool beanies are all still available in many sizes. Additionally, a limited supply of Thurmont Little League logo masks is available in youth and adult sizes. Check out the league page on Facebook or contact them via email for more information. Thurmont Little League can’t wait to see everyone at the fields soon!

As the leaves turned colors and the temperatures began to drop, Thurmont Little League brought an end to a season that will not be forgotten any time soon. With COVID-19 bringing about the cancellation of the spring season, an extended fall season, jam-packed with raffles, spirit wear sales, sandlot games, and a Fall Showcase Tournament, made sure that the players and their families ended the year on a memorable note.

The T-ball and Instructional divisions wrapped up their seasons in late October. Several evening games were held to give these up-and-coming stars of the future the chance to shine on the big field under the lights. Despite the cold weather, everyone always has a good time with these games, and it is great to see the progress that they have all made throughout the season. Developing these players at a young age is what helps Thurmont Little League stand apart and build a great program for the future.

It was an incredibly competitive Minors Division this year, as all four teams ended up with winning records against those outside of the league. The top three teams all finished within a game of each other, which made for an intense end-of-season playoff. Ultimately, the Nationals, managed by Jeff Kuhn, were crowned the champions. They defeated the Angels in a back and forth matchup to finish things off. An end of season All Star game was also held. Players recognized by their coaches to participate in this game were: Brayden Rickerd, Noah Bradbury, Mason Fry, Logan Holden, and Devin Youngerman (Angels); Tucker Bryant, Bracen Webb, Myles Kuhn, Marcus Kuhn, and Tyler Creel (Nationals); Grayson Strobel, Reed McCauley, Seamus Riddle, Ethan Tokar, and Ayden Merritt (Orioles); Colton Warner, Jeremy Veronie, Tristan Van Echo, Gibson Main, and Parker Hahn (Braves). It was a great season, overall, and many of these players will be moving up to the next level in the spring.

Not without its fair share of excitement was the Major Division, which saw both Thurmont teams representing the league with excellent performances in the first-ever Fall District 2 Showcase Tournament. Several rounds of pool play were held, and eventually the Thurmont Twins and Orioles wound up playing each other in the semifinal round of the American Division. After the Orioles jumped out to a big early lead, the Twins battled back to win in walk-off fashion. The next day, they relied on timely hitting and a dominating pitching performance by Brennan Conrad to defeat the Frederick American Elks 10-1 for the Championship. Many of these players are aging out of the league, so it was wonderful to see them going out on top in their final season for Thurmont Little League.

With the season wrapping up, it was time for the league to take on another initiative that was in the works for quite some time. For over a year now, the Board of Directors has been planning a makeover on the two main fields, Nicholson and Leisner. On Sunday November 1, work began to have the fields scraped and torn up from behind home plate to about 10 feet into the outfields. The final result will be a more even and level playing surface, significantly better drainage for those rainy baseball days, and a far smoother playing surface. This will give our players a better opportunity to make even more great plays in the field. This project will be completed during the off-season, and they will be ready to go for opening day 2021.

Speaking of 2021, the board of directors is already hard at work with planning for next year’s season. Registration for spring begins on January 1! Thurmont Little League will be celebrating its 70th anniversary, so there will undoubtedly be a huge celebration planned, as long as COVID-19 restrictions will allow it.

If you are interested in learning more, volunteering, or signing your child up to be a part of this wonderful organization, please visit www.tllbaseball.com.

Courtesy Photo

Thurmont Little League Minor Division All Stars.

Maryland Aftershock 12U wrapped up their fall season, winning the Crown Trophy Fall Challenge Tournament in Leesburg, Virginia.

This fall, the team went 18-7-1.  Out of six tournaments, they have two first-place finishes, one second-place finish, and two third-place finishes.

Courtesy Photo

Pictured from left are: (front row) Julie West; (middle row) Maddie Smith, Bralyn West, Juliette Soisson, Kamryn Dillow; (back row) Maddie Ott, Lilly Trunnell, Kassidy Kreitz, Sydney Kulikowski, and Hayden Moxley; Coaching Staff: Rich Trunnell, Johnny West, and Aaron Moxley.

The 12U Maryland Aftershock softball team won the Stingrays Fall Classic Championship in Leesburg, Virginia, the weekend of September 26-27, 2020. The team went 5-1 and outscored their opponents 51-17.

Courtesy Photo

Pictured from left: (back row) Coaches, Rich Trunnell, Johnny West, and Aaron Moxley; (front row) Bralyn West, Maddie Ott, Kamryn Dillow, Juliette Soisson, Lilly Trunnell, Kassidy Kreitz, Kailia Burke, Sydney Kulikowski, Julie West, Kaylen Butts, and Hayden Moxley.

The Thurmont Little League Fall Ball season is in full swing, literally! From intermediate all the way down to T-ball, the kids are working hard and having a great time being back out on the field. The board of directors planned out a very extensive season, and it has been jam-packed with games and events thus far.

Speaking of the board, they welcomed several new members for the 2020-2021 year: Mike Smith—V.P. of Intermediate Division, Jeff Kuhn—V.P. of Minors Division, and Chad Hahn—Equipment Manager. They were all recently sworn into their new positions. The league would also like to thank Jeremy Johnson and Joe Wehage for their years of dedicated service as they exit their positions on the Board.

Along with the typical slate of games and practices that make up the fall season, there have been several ongoing fundraising efforts to help make up for the lost spring season. Spirit Wear and raffle ticket sales have been extremely successful in bringing in additional revenue for the league. On Saturday, August 29, the basket raffle was held, and the lucky winners were notified of their prizes. A “Mom’s Day Out” basket was won by Becky Wilson, while the “Guys Day” basket went to Richard Balsley. Two additional “Family Fun” baskets were won by Diana Merritt and Gail Bunyan. Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who purchased tickets.

Over Labor Day weekend, the Major Division Twins and Orioles competed in the second annual Brunswick Little League Garel Hauver Memorial Tournament. Eleven teams played over the course of the weekend, and both Little League teams did a fantastic job representing Thurmont Little League and making the community proud.

The Hit-a-thon is the largest annual fundraiser for the league. This year, it was held on Saturday, September 12. The goal is for players to obtain sponsors to contribute money for them to get a certain number of hits. For every $10 earned, a player gets one hit, with a maximum of ten hits per player. A special bonus hit can be procured with a non-perishable food donation. This year, Thurmont Little League players raised over $8,000 and collected more than 120 items for Blessings in a Backpack. Individual prize winners were: Bryce Yocum—Overall Fundraising Winner ($365), Aiden Munday—Farthest Hit T-ball, Nemo Dewees—Farthest Hit Instructional, Seamus Riddle—Farthest Hit Minors, and Teddy Topper—Farthest Hit Majors. This event was a huge success, and the Thurmont Little League could not have done it without the support of its community and volunteers.

Finally, Thurmont Little League would like to give a special thank you to Thurmont American Legion Post 168 for donating brand new American flags for the complex. These will be put to great use as players recite the pledge to the flag before each game.

It has been a tremendous start so far, with lots of action and events. The league is looking forward to continuing on with the remainder of a successful fall season.

Hitathon winner for the furthest distance: Majors Division — Teddy Topper (221 ft.).

It’s been several months, but Thurmont Little League has finally returned to action, following the district approval of its Return to Play Plan. After the league was forced to suspend its spring season, along with all planned activities such as opening day, spiritwear sales, basket raffles, and its annual Hit-A-Thon, the league was uncertain of when baseball would return. After many meetings and conversations with county, league, and town officials, Phase 1 and 2 of the Return to Play Plan was approved on June 16, 2020. Phase 3 was approved on June 30, and the plan was amended on July 27 to include changes to certain restrictions. To view the current plan, please visit www.tllbaseball.com.

Baseball is not only resuming in Thurmont. After many years, the fields in Emmitsburg will be alive with activity as well. Thurmont Little League is lucky to be partnering with the town of Emmitsburg to use the wonderful fields that have been vacant for some time. Each division will be playing home games on these fields. They will also be utilized for team practices, as space is always limited during the season.

Activities officially resumed on June 30, with the beginning of a series of “sandlot style” pickup games for each age group. These games were open to the first 20 players to register online. The players were then split up and assigned to designated coaches who volunteered for each of the games. While no official scores were kept, it was a great way to get the kids back onto the field after several months of inactivity. Among the new restrictions in place during these games were enhanced safety measures, social distancing among players and coaches, mask mandates for coaches, umpires standing behind the pitcher’s mound, no use of dugouts or sharing of equipment, and extra sanitizing of balls and other items.

Registration for the extended fall season, running August through October, began in early July. Despite the pandemic, overall numbers were up this year due to the cancellation of other sports. The league ended up with two Major Division teams, four Minor teams, four Instructional teams, and four T-Ball teams. Practices began in the intense heat of late July, but that didn’t stop the dedicated players and coaches excited to be back on the field.

Thurmont Little League would not be possible without an amazing group of volunteers. From the board of directors, managers, assistant coaches, team moms, umpires, and down the line, nothing could be accomplished without this large cast of hard-working individuals.

Community service is a natural part of any youth organization. Because of this commitment, Thurmont Little League was happy to partner with the Potter Baseball Organization again this year, after a successful charity kickball game last summer. This group of young athletes, led by Coach and Author Jeff Potter, travels from town to town completing service projects and teaching about how baseball used to be played. On July 23, the Potter Baseball team arrived and helped volunteers from the town and league paint the Thurmont Food Bank exterior. Thurmont Little League was happy to provide lunch and snacks, with special help from Rocky’s Pizza and Thurmont Roy Rogers. The league is grateful to Coach Potter and his team and look forward to hosting them again in the near future. They will also be coordinating efforts along with the league to take a team of Thurmont youths to Cooperstown next year.

Prior to the season starting, Umpire in Chief Blaine Young held a clinic at the Thurmont Little League complex for managers and coaches to learn more about the rules and regulations for the upcoming season. There was also a focus on some of the additional restrictions and rule changes in place as part of COVID-19 and the Return to Play Plan. As mentioned, the league relies entirely on volunteer umpires. If you are interested in learning more, please visit the league website.

Finally, on Saturday, August 8, the opening day was held. Volunteers worked hard to adorn the complex with balloons, banners, and signs, outlining the new safety protocols. Basket raffles and spiritwear sales were held, and the majority of teams took part in their first official games. A successful, but hot morning was capped off with the sudden appearance of everyone’s favorite Kona Ice truck. It has been a long, hard road, but baseball is officially back at Thurmont Little League!

Emmitsburg Little League District II Champions – 1985

In a 1985 Frederick News-Post (FNP)article, FNP sports reporter, Dave Ammenheuser (1980 Catoctin High School graduate and present-day sports editor for USA Today) gave an interesting depiction about the talent of Emmitsburg Little League championship pitchers in the opening paragraph of his article, “Emmitsburg, NL, AL Win,” stating, “Emmitsburg Little League Manager Don Kaas has something Baltimore Orioles’ Manager Earl Weaver doesn’t. Pitching.”

The Emmitsburg Little League team that year was managed by Don Kaas, coached by Sam Topper, and the league president was Tom Ryan. AllStar players included Gene Valentine, Joel Grinder, Dwight Baumgardner, Chris Stahley, Tony Orndorff, Brian Dugan, Eddie Wantz, Brian Cool, Pat Valenti, Brian Hemler, Joe Andrew, Chris Wantz, Pat Topper, and Kevin Shorb. This team earned the first of title baseball wins for the Emmitsburg Little League. Emmitsburg first joined the National Little League program in 1957.

On the way to the championship, team pitchers, Gene Valentine and Joel Grinder, both pitched shutouts in games leading up to the championship contest. Along the way, Emmitsburg downed Westminster 14-0 in a game where FNP’s reporter Bill Cauley wrote, “Gene Valentine tossed a masterful one-hitter and came within two batters of fanning every batter he faced while his teammates hammered out 11 hits, including four home runs…”

Emmitsburg continued on the winning path to take Brunswick 3-0, where Joel Grinder became Emmitsburg’s second pitcher in two games to throw a shutout in the tournament.

This dynamically talented pitching duo was backed up by talented teammates.

In another FNP article, League President Tom Ryan said, “This is a low-keyed team. These players play sound, fundamental baseball. We may not hit the ball hard, but the players do what they have to do to win on the field.”

Team Manager Don Kaas added, “Everyone on this team makes a contribution. It takes the overall team effort to win, and that’s what we do.”

During the tournament championship game in Emmitsburg, there were so many spectators that Bob Saylor, a constant force within the league as former league president and concession-stand manager, ran out of ice for the snow cone machine. This had never happened before.

Emmitsburg beat the American Little League of Frederick 12-0 for the district tournament championship. After the win, it seemed every resident in town had come out for the game, celebration, and victory parade.

The Emmitsburg Little League District 2 AllStars in 1985 were Gene Valentine, Joel Grinder, Dwight Baumgardner, Chris Stahley, Tony Orndorff, Brian Dugan, Eddie Wantz, Brian Cool, Pat Valenti, Brian Hemler, Joe Andrew, Chris Wantz, Pat Topper, and Kevin Shorb. The League President was Tom Ryan, Team Manager Donnie Kaas, and Coach Sam Topper.

Blair Garrett

This Mount team has been through rough stretches before.

Head Coach Dan Engelstad preaches a defense-first game to his Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball team. The defense feeds the offense, and for large portions of the season, the Mount has thrived on that mentality.

For as solid as the defense has been, the challenge for every quality team is playing and closing out full games with a shutdown defense and turning those stops into counterattacks.

The Mount’s game on February 15 against St. Francis epitomized that struggle for consistency.

The first half for Mount St. Mary’s was as clinical and efficient as they have looked all season. The defense was suffocating, and it played perfectly into the team’s stellar transition game.

St. Francis is one of the top teams in the Northeast Conference (NEC), and the Mount held them to just 20 points in the first half. Forward Nana Opoku’s tenacity in the paint shut down opportunities for St. Francis’ top scorers, and that energy fueled the offense in the first frame.

Mount St. Mary’s held a 15-point lead and looked as dominant as Engelstad strives for his team to be.

“We had a really good effort in the first half,” Engelstad said. “I thought our defense was in a good place once we started sprinting back and getting stops. We did a really good job of holding a good offensive team to 20 points.”

The momentum quickly shifted at halftime, though, and the scope of the game changed rapidly over the next 15 minutes.

St. Francis’ offense exploded, and the second and third chance opportunities that were shut down in the first half were suddenly available in the second frame.

“The second half was the tale of two teams,” Engelstad said. “We got comfortable, and they hurt us inside and outside. We’ve got to look inward. There are a lot of things we need to do better, that I need to do better.”

St. Francis outscored and out-rebounded the Mount drastically over the second half, pulling out a 15-point lead and closing out the game with a 70-55 victory over Mount St. Mary’s.

“We have to find a way to get stops,” Jalen Gibbs said. “It’s not going to be easy, and we know that. We just have to keep pushing.”

There is no easy fix for consistency, outside of putting the hours in practice day in and day out, but it’s not for lack of effort on the basketball court.

“We’ve been through tough stretches and come out with four wins in a row on the road,” Gibbs said. “We just need to lock into the details.”

With just a handful of games left in the season, it’s now or never for this Mount team. The talent is there, the effort is there, and the right attitude emanates through the locker room.

“This is the biggest part of our season. We still have a lot to play for,” Engelstad said. “We have a lot of work to do, but we still have a lot more basketball ahead of us.”

The Mount control their own fate, and despite the struggles as of late, the team’s in-conference record has them in the thick of it in competing for a long postseason. This team has faltered on its path before and come out stronger than ever, and there’s no reason they can’t replicate that to close out the regular season.

With its most important games still left to play, this Mount team now has the chance to execute to its potential and prove to everyone that this team isn’t going down without a fight.

Jalen Gibbs takes it to the hoop on the counterattack.

Blair Garrett

Coaching sports is as difficult as it is rewarding.

Managing different personalities, encouraging athletes to be their best on and off the court, and putting together game plans that emphasize your team’s strengths can be taxing on even the most dedicated coaches.

In addition to all the film and research that goes into putting together a winning strategy, coaches provide another source of team support that is often over-looked.

“It takes a lot of hours as a coach,” JV Coach and Assistant Varsity Coach Jim Weddle said. “A lot of times, you have to go to events to raise money for the team, and a lot of people don’t want to put in that time.”

Fortunately for the Catoctin High School (CHS) boys basketball team, a foundation of youth basketball has been put in place.

Weddle has been around the game for a long, long time, and he knows the ins and outs of what it takes to build a great team.

Youth support and encouraging kids to be active and try basketball from a young age fuels good teams for the future, and the Catoctin area was missing that for quite some time.

“The Catoctin Youth Association (CYA) has really done a great job as far as getting kids involved in basketball at a young age,” Weddle said. “Jason Smith has done a heck of a job with CYA. He puts in a heck of a lot of time into it.”

Weddle recognizes the youth support and has seen that culture shift from a school that did not win a lot of games just a few years ago, to a school that now competes with the top schools in the region for a top playoff seed.

“In the three years before Brian [Burdette] and I came on as coaches, the basketball teams did not win a lot of games,” Weddle said. “It was hard to bring coaches in because they see that history.”

Weddle, along with Head Coach Brian Burdette, has shifted the mindset from a team that just participates in games to a team that goes out and takes games.

That success may be in part to Weddle and Burdette’s history before taking over the reins at Catoctin.

“Coach Burdette played for me when I was the head coach at Linganore High School,” Weddle said. “We went on and coached some Mid-Maryland teams a few years ago and won championships the last two years.”

That chemistry and familiarity provide a full bank of knowledge for both coaches to draw upon in molding the CHS boys teams to live up to their potential. So far, it has paid off tremendously.

The Catoctin boys team now sits as one of the top seeds battling for a playoff position in the region, due in part to the work and dedication of the players and from the extensive support and instruction from the team’s coaching staff.

Students at Catoctin have taken notice, too, and the home crowd has been noticeably louder and wilder than it has in years past.

“We’ve done really well, and the kids at the school have really started to support the team,” Weddle said. “We play an up-tempo kind of basketball, and most people like it because it’s exciting.”

That home-court advantage has been monumentally important in giving the Cougars the shot of energy they need to win games, leading to a stellar home record.

From the region’s first youth leagues all the way to varsity basketball, there are signs of promise that the successes built over the past few seasons are here to stay. With dedicated members of CYA introducing kids to the game of basketball, it eventually allows the high school coaches to watch and see the growth and progress kids make as they move through youth sports.

“We try to go to the Mid-Maryland games, so we can get to know these kids as they’re growing up,” Weddle said. “I think that’s important.”

It is clear that the impact from whose who are willing to put the time in from top to bottom has affected youth sports in a tremendous way. One thing is certain: the future of Catoctin basketball is in good hands.

The groundhog failed to see his shadow, meaning Spring is just around the corner! With that, Thurmont Little League (TLL) is busy making preparations for the start of the 2020 season. On February 4, a very successful fundraiser was held at Roy Roger’s restaurant. Many families came out to enjoy a great meal to benefit the league and to register their children in person for the upcoming season. An overwhelming response to spiritwear and discount card sales led to a hugely successful evening.

Over 50 TLL players from across all ages attended the Winter Baseball Clinic at Mount Saint Mary’s University. This three-part session, led by college athletes and coaches, was a tremendous opportunity for the players to get some practice in before the upcoming season. Everyone involved seemed to really enjoy this opportunity, and the league hopes to return to campus later this year for TLL Day during one of the Mount’s home baseball games.

Player evaluations were held for the minor and major divisions on February 15 and February 23. There was an excellent turnout, and the players seemed excited to get back into baseball mode after a long winter. Team selections will occur on March 1 and, weather permitting, practices will begin the week of March 9.

TLL offers many volunteer opportunities for families to get more involved. Outside of coaching, there is always a need for concession help and volunteer umpires. TLL will hold an Umpire Clinic on March 21 for any interested parties to see what is involved or to brush up on their skills. The league is in need of adult umpires ages 18-plus, but there are also youth umpiring spots available for ages 13-17. This is a great way to earn community service hours. Umpiring spots are available for a few, or several, games if desired.

For more information, please visit the umpire section of the TLL website. Please pass the word to anyone who may be interested!

The Thurmont Little League Board has been hard at work making plans for opening day, which is scheduled for Saturday, April 4. Along with a full slate of games, the day will also include an introduction of all players and coaches, as well as a special ceremony hosted by WFRE’s own Brian Mo. The first pitch will be thrown out by head Catoctin baseball coach Michael Franklin, who is the reigning Frederick County Teacher of the Year. There will be fun for all ages, with animals on display by the National Park Service, ice cream from Antietam Dairy, face painting, basket raffles, and more. You won’t want to miss out on the fun, so please mark this date on your calendar.


TLL players attend the Winter Baseball Clinic at Mount Saint Mary’s University.

Blair Garrett

Basketball is a game of momentum.

After dominating the majority of the game and a last-minute comeback, Catoctin Boys Hoops steadied the ship to edge out Smithsburg, 67-63, on January 14. The team then kept pace with the region, taking out Clear Spring and Williamsport consecutively.

The Smithsburg win was hard-fought with a down-to-the-wire slugfest between two rivals.

The neck and neck contest saw both teams battling for control throughout much of the first half, with Catoctin holding a 26-23 lead over the Leopards. Head coach Brian Burdette lit a fire under his team to start the third quarter, and the Cougars never looked back.

“Coming off the game against Middletown, I knew we were going to come out a little flat to start,” Burdette said. “We regrouped and started to do the things we wanted to do offensively, and we were able to get clean looks at the basket to heat up and pull away a little bit.”

Rivalries always add a bit of spice to a game. With the home crowd roaring, the Cougars came out with winning energy and intensity in the second half.

Catoctin’s explosive third quarter was led by forward David Parker, whose rebounding prowess in the paint gave problems to Smithsburg throughout the game. Parker’s ability to extend plays let the team’s outside shooters flourish, pushing the Cougar lead to as much as 17. Catoctin held a 47-33 advantage in rebounds on the night.

Nailing three-pointers and scoring off the transition put the Cougars firmly into the driver’s seat. When Catoctin can find the open man and stretch out the defense, they are at their best. “When we move the ball, and we cut to get some open looks at the basket, we’re able to knock them down,” Burdette said.

A buzzer-beater to close out the third quarter saw Catoctin ahead 49-35, but the game was far from over. The contest evolved into a chess match, with both coaches wisely using timeouts to stifle the opposition’s momentum. Smithsburg is a team that has no quit, and momentum can change in the blink of an eye.

After holding a 17-point lead with six minutes left, a Smithsburg timeout gave the team life to rally back, putting the home team on its heels late in the game. With the clock winding down, the Leopards continued to pick up steam with defensive tenacity and quick-strike offense.

Smithsburg guard Morgan Hyman hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left, putting the Cougars dangerously close to losing their lead. Catoctin headed to the free-throw line with 4.6 on the clock and a two-point lead, and made no mistake, sinking both and putting the game out of reach.

The Cougars’ close call against Smithsburg came as no surprise to Burdette, who has taken notice of the Leopards’ ability to battle back late in games. “I watched the three other games this season, and they’ve come back,” he said. “They don’t give up, and they’re a scrappy ball club. I knew they were capable of doing that.”

With three wins in a row and another big win under their belt, the Cougars are quickly shaping up for the playoff season. While logging these early wins is ideal, the team attitude of always having something to improve on will carry them far.

“We’ve got to improve taking care of the ball in transition,” Burdette said.

When the team is firing on all cylinders, it is hard to beat. If the team continues to integrate its depth and facilitate the ball, there is no telling how far it can go.

Morgan Hyman (left) and Tommy Fitzpatrick (right) battle for possession.

Blair Garrett

It was a thriller in Knott Arena on Saturday, January 25. With just seconds on the clock, the hometown crowd roaring, and one final chance to score, the Mount men’s basketball team held off Bryant University’s last-second push to win its fourth game in a row and fifth Northeastern Conference game of the season.

Homecoming night had an electric energy in the building, with both teams storming up and down the court in the opening minutes. The Bulldogs came out swinging, knocking down shots from beyond the arc left and right, but Mount St. Mary’s was able to stabilize and keep pace with Bryant’s scorers.

Neither team was able to take firm control of the game throughout the first half, and the score held even at 40 all, until Bryant’s Juan Cardenas hit the team’s tenth 3-pointer as the halftime buzzer sounded.

The intermission was a good reset for the Mount, whose explosive jump to begin the second half gave the team its first two-score lead of the game. A few defensive stops and an alley-oop to Mount forward Nana Opoku had fans out of their seats. Mount St. Mary’s looked nearly unstoppable over the opening minutes of the second frame.

Momentum-swings in basketball are never few and far between, and the Bulldogs found their way back into the game, with the lead changing hands once again late in the game.

“They went up 6 points with six minutes to go, a little worried, but we made some big shots,” head coach Dan Engelstad said.

The Mount found its rhythm, and guard Damian Chong Qui’s scoring prowess stung the Bulldogs twice to draw Mount St. Mary’s within one score. As he has done all season, guard Vado Morse pulled out a timely 3-pointer to tie the game, with the clock ticking away.

Emotions were running high, and both teams missed critical free throws down the stretch that could have swung the game in either’s favor. With less than a minute remaining in the game, the Bulldogs needed a score to take the lead, but Opoku had other plans.

The 6-foot-9-forward stood tall, swatting away multiple shot attempts in the same drive to eventually force a shot clock violation and, more importantly, milking precious seconds off an already waning clock.

Bryant’s only chance was to take the Mount to the foul line, and Morse and Jalen Gibbs sank free throws to push the team to a four-point lead.

Just as they had all night, the Bulldogs battled back and fired off a tough-angle 3-pointer to pull within 1, with just 2.7 seconds left in the game. After an immediate foul and two more important Mount free throws, Bryant had just one final chance on an inbound play to level the score.

The entire arena held their breath as the ball soared across the court, but the Bulldogs’ hopes fell short, as Mount St. Mary’s batted the ball away and stole the game.

The game was as close as it gets, but the home team was able to gut it out and give the fans a show en route to the team’s ninth victory of the season.

“It was a back-and-forth game, and it was really entertaining,” Engelstad said. “It was a really well-played game on both sides. They made 10 threes in the first half, and we were able to limit them to just three in the second half and that was the difference.”

After a rough opening schedule against some of the country’s top collegiate teams, the Mount has found its game in the NEC, keeping up with the conference’s top teams. With the momentum from winning a few games in a row and an impressive 5-2 in-conference record, the energy in the locker room may feel different, but the team’s focus never leaves the task at hand.

“The most important practice is the next one, and the most important game is the next one,” Engelstad said. “This was an awesome environment and it was fun to play in, but it was only important because it was the one in front of us. That’s the mindset we gotta keep.”

The Mount is now in the thick of its conference games, and with this focused attitude and renewed confidence, it is an exciting time to be a Mountaineer.

Vado Morse takes it to the hoop on the counterattack.

Jalen Gibbs contests a late-game shot.

At Thurmont Little League (TLL), there truly is no off-season! Even though Fall Ball has been over for a few months, and the spring season is still several weeks away, the board of directors has been hard at work with preparations and improvements for the upcoming year.

This year, a new president, Keith Myers, has taken over the duties from outgoing President Jeremy Johnson. This is Keith’s second time around with TLL. He coached his son from tee-ball to majors, and now has the privileged opportunity to fulfill the same role with his grandson. Previously on the TLL board, Keith held several other positions, including vice president of the Minor and Major Divisions. Jeremy will remain on as vice president of the Minors Division. Other new board members for 2020 include: Jenn Cregger—Player Agent, Carrie Laird—Team Mom Coordinator, and Blaine Young—Umpire in Chief. TLL would not be possible without a fantastic group of volunteers, and they are thankful to every one of them for their dedicated service.

The board members aren’t the only ones keeping busy this off-season. Close to 50 TLL players from all age groups have been participating in the Winter Baseball Clinic at Mount Saint Mary’s University. This is an excellent opportunity to get lessons from college coaches and players, and for our youth athletes to keep their skills sharp during the winter.

This off-season, the TLL Facebook page promoted a new tagline/slogan contest. They reached out to the community for input on a new tagline that best captured what TLL is all about. After narrowing the choices down to the top 16, a bracket-style voting process was held, which eventually led to the selection of the new TLL tagline: “Small town teams, big league dreams!” The board will use this tagline in future marketing and branding, and it will be painted on several of the dugouts around the complex. Congrats to Ryan Tokar on submitting the winning tagline!

Spring registration for the 2020 season is now open. Please visit www.tllbaseball.com for more information. There will also be in-person registration at Roy Rogers in Thurmont on February 4, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Opening day is planned for April 14, and we encourage everyone to attend!

The Catoctin-Ettes, inc., will again be offering its free, introductory baton twirling course for beginners interested in the growing sport of baton twirling. 

The classes are set to begin on Wednesday, February 12, at the Emmitsburg Elementary School. The course runs for four consecutive Wednesday evenings  and is geared for beginners from ages 5 and up. Baton twirling and marching are the focus of the course. 

The course is completely free and batons are loaned free of charge for classtime. This is an excellent opportunity to determine a child’s interest for twirling with absolutely no costs or commitments whatsoever! Certificates are presented to those completing the four-week course.

Participants must be pre-registered. For more information or for information, please contact Donna Landsperger at donito@aol.com or 240-405-2604.

The Catoctin-Aires Twirling Corps has captured the title of Advanced Majorette Corps under the sanction of the Capital Area Marching Association.  The championship contest was held in October 2019 at the Hagerstown Junior College Sports Complex.

The group has earned the title consecutively for many years though this year they have won with over a 100-point margin from the second place competitor.  In addition to the advanced group title, the marching group also won first place for its Complimentary Unit and Tiny Tot section, as well as achieving the highest point value for its seniors, juniors, and juvenile twirling units.

Each leader of the group was named the top advanced leader in group competition. Receiving medals for this prestigious award were Lily Marquette as Tiny Tot Leader; Katie Gaffigan, Juvenile Leader; Rachel Bechler, Junior Leader; and Kelly Reed, Senior Leader.

During individual competition, Katie Gaffigan earned the title of Miss C.A.M.A. for her three-part performance in the beginner 10-12 division. India Mitchell won in the Novice 10-12 division. Both girls competed in modeling, twirling, and strutting to be determined the all-around winner of their respective divisions. They received their divisional championship trophy, crown and sash.

Miss Caitlyn Purdum was recognized by the Catoctin-Aires as the year’s Most Valuable Player for having worked in three of the five competing sections of the group.

For more information about the group or for registration for the upcoming season, please contact Donna Landsperger at donito@aol.com.

Free Twirling Classes: Contact The Catoctin-Ettes, Inc. for information about its free twirling classes, set to begin January 27, 2020, from 6:45-7:30 p.m. at Emmitsburg Elementary School. It’s not too late to join the fun! Contact Donna Landsperger at DONITO@aol.com or 301-271-4326.

Blair Garrett

Catoctin High School football has cruised through the first two rounds of the playoffs, crushing its opponents with a combined score of 100-12. The team followed up those performances with another offensive explosion, smashing its quarterfinal opponents by 20 points.

The Cougars clashed with the Southern Rams in the first round of the playoffs, scoring touchdowns on each possession throughout the entirety of the battle.

It was a frigid night, but Catoctin came out on fire, exploding for three quick touchdowns in the first frame, a theme that continued throughout the game.

“The kids practice hard,” Head Coach Doug Williams said. “When they do that, we execute.”

The team’s run game dominated Southern, chewing up huge chunks of yardage, left and right. Dynamic running back duo Carson Sickeri and Jacob Baker combined for multiple scores each on the night, pushing Catoctin to a comfortable 41-point lead by halftime.

The Cougar defense was nearly impenetrable, limiting the Rams to just a handful of first downs until the final drive of the game. Solid defense sets up the offense, and the Cougars were dominant on both sides of the ball from start to finish.

“The defense gave us field position,” Williams said. “I don’t know how many first downs they got, but it wasn’t many.”

Any football coach recognizes the importance of having a consistent offensive line. Throughout the season, Catoctin’s offensive line has often been the unsung group of heroes on the team. So far in the playoffs, their contributions have been noticeable, and they have continued to create lanes and suppress pressure, allowing the Cougar offense to flourish. 

“It all starts with the offensive line,” Williams said. “They were doing a good job blocking and executing, and the skill guys followed right behind them.”

Good teams expect more cohesion as their season pushes on, and Catoctin has been playing a complete game for weeks.

The Cougars replicated their almost flawless performance the following week, blowing out Boonsboro High School 47-6 in the second round of the playoffs, and routing Fairmont Heights 41-21 in the quarterfinals.

The team’s six-game winning streak has been built on consistent play on offense and defense, and the Cougars are finding ways to win convincingly each week because of it. That balance has given Coach Williams and company a lot to build upon each practice, and the results have been sensational on the field.

With momentum on their side, the team still has more work to do to reach the state championship once again, a feat it last did in 2010.

Sitting at an 11-1 record, the Cougars have the confidence and the ability to make the push into the final leg of the playoffs, and with the season on the line, each game from here on out, the team is leaving everything out on the field.

With a maximum of two games left in the season, Catoctin faces off against Fort Hill on Friday, November 29, in a semifinal showdown that is sure to be the Cougars’ toughest challenge of the season. You can catch more high school football action following the playoffs that you won’t want to miss.

Blair Garrett

The first of many has been achieved.

After a long offseason, the Mount St. Mary’s Men’s Basketball team cruised to victory in the team’s home opener of the season, defeating Gettysburg College, 75-58.

The Mount opened the game at a torrid pace, immediately igniting the crowd on a dunk by forward Nana Opoku to get the crowd roaring from the first whistle. Opoku’s score gave Mount St. Mary’s a lead it would not surrender throughout the entirety of the game.

A blistering pace over the first 10 minutes of the match saw the Mount form a sizable lead over the Bullets, punishing mistakes left and right and forcing Gettysburg to adapt to their dominant play down low. Mount St. Mary’s held a 25-6 lead in what looked to be a blowout early.

Basketball is a game of momentum, though, and the Bullets battled their way back to cut Mount St. Mary’s lead to just a few possessions, capitalizing off a string of turnovers.

With just an 11-point lead at halftime, the Mount had plenty of work to do to close out the game and take its first win of the season, but Gettysburg still had plenty of fight left.

The Bullets came out swinging, almost tying the game before a key timeout by head coach Dan Engelstad got the group back on track. “We just weren’t playing Mount basketball,” Engelstad said. “We’re not defending, we’re not back in transition, we’re not communicating. When you do that, that’s how teams can get back in the game.”

Mount St. Mary’s timeout allowed the players to take a breath, reset, and focus on getting back to the core of what makes them a successful team, and they followed that break by scoring the next 10 points, grabbing a convincing lead to close out the game.

Guards Vado Morse and Damian Chong Qui picked up the pace in the second half, forcing Gettysburg to turn the ball over and allowing the Mount to use its speed and athleticism to extend the lead. Morse finished the game with 14 points and four steals, while Chong Qui cashed in on 13 points.

Forward Malik Jefferson was a consistent thorn in the Gettysburg side, grabbing offensive rebounds to recycle the ball and offer second and third chances for Mount shots. Jefferson’s efforts netted him a double-double, putting up 14 points and 13 rebounds to pace the team.

While the end result reads as a win and the team’s first of the season, there is much work to be done to continue, putting up impressive results and playing to the potential this team has. “I thought we came out pretty well with some fire early, but then we got sloppy,” Engelstad said. “The second half, we had some plays where our offense was able to get initiated because of our defense, and we picked it up a bit.”

Communication has been a key word ringing through Knott Arena all throughout the offseason; and in order to reach the team’s goals, improvement in that department to clean up defensive assignments and passing plays will go a long way.

“Communication is something we’ve been preaching for so long,” Engelstad said. “It was good at points, but if we don’t string it together for the majority of the game, then we’ll have different results.”

A few miscues leading to turnovers and some poor shooting from beyond the arc left a bit to be desired for the team, so any improvement in those areas is a great place to start building confidence and momentum throughout the year.

The sky’s the limit for Mount basketball, and Engelstad has the systems in place for the team to breed success this season. Although there are things to work on early in the season, this team has all the tools to bring fans to their feet and wins to their record.

Catch your local college basketball team when the Mount returns to the Knott Arena on Tuesday, November 26, at 7:00 p.m. to face off against Utah Valley.