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Ryan Tokar, Thurmont Little League

Thurmont Little League hosts first-ever Family Movie Night in September.

Courtesy Photo

As the leaves continue to fall, the 70th season of Thurmont Little League (TLL) is winding down, bringing another successful year of baseball to a close. Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has brought forth, the league has continued to provide an outlet for the aspiring youth players of the community. On any given night this fall, you could see countless teams in game play, practicing, or utilizing the batting cages. Nearly 200 players participated, making this fall ball season one for the record books.

In addition to a full slate of games, the league has kept its players, volunteers, and the community busy through a variety of other activities. In late September, TLL hosted its first-ever Family Movie Night. Over 250 people showed up on a beautiful fall evening to watch The Sandlot on the outfield grass. Free popcorn was provided, courtesy of J&B Real Estate agent Elle Smith, while the TLL concession stand served up Sauced Savage BBQ and other goodies. Kona Ice was also on hand, delivering ice cream and snow cones to the crowd of families. This event was a huge success and will definitely become a new annual tradition for the league. Finally, TLL ended the season with some Halloween fun. On Sunday, October 24, TLL held its first annual Trunk or Treat event. Almost 30 vendors/families participated in this extremely fun event, decorating their spaces and handing out treats to the kids. TLL passed out free hot chocolate, cider, and cookies. They also provided games and prizes for a variety of costume categories. And last, but not least, TLL joined in on an on-field Trick or Treat event at Mount Saint Mary’s University. Players got a chance to attend the game, run the bases, and meet with collegiate athletes, all while dressing up in their favorite costumes. The season may be ending, but the fun never stops at TLL

Ryan Tokar, Thurmont Little League

Thurmont Little League (TLL) is well underway with its largest fall season to date. This season saw 193 total registrations, up from the previous high of 148 last year. It is wonderful to see more and more children from the surrounding community coming out to participate and learn the game of baseball. Just four years ago, the fall total was a mere 96 players.

Now, we are proud to support five T-ball, four instructional (coach pitch), five minors, four majors, and an intermediate team. This is not only impressive from a number’s standpoint, but the fact that the teams are also extremely competitive is an extraordinary feat. It would not be possible without a tremendous network of volunteers and support from the local community.

Along with a new season, came the election of a new board of directors for 2021-2022. TLL would like to welcome Robbie Nash as the new president of the league. Robbie spent many years as a manager in the T-ball/instructional divisions, also serving as a vice president of those leagues. He has also been extremely hands-on in creating signage, uniforms, and spiritwear for the league, as well as maintaining social media. He will also continue to manage a team in the minors division.

Other newly elected board members include: Jeff Kuhn, who moved from vice president of minors to league vice president; Darryl Dextradeur, vice president of minors; Kaitlin Nash, vice president of instructional/T-ball; Nikki Hahn, director of sponsorships/uniforms; and Nicole Tyler, head of field maintenance.

As the new members settle into their roles, we cannot forget to thank our outgoing board members who made so many wonderful contributions to the league over the years. Keith Myers, in his second run with TLL, served as a manager, vice president, and spent the last few years as league president. John Code was also a manager, league vice president, and master scheduler. Kathleen Davis and Joey Youngerman also spent many years in their positions of sponsorships/uniforms and vice president of T-ball/instructional. Last, but not least, is P.J. Nicholson, whose contributions to field maintenance led to his name being immortalized on our minors (Nicholson) field. The league is grateful to each of you for your many years of service.

In addition to baseball, the league has many other events and fun activities planned for the remainder of the fall.

Team and individual pictures will take place in late September. This is normally reserved for the spring season, but due to the overwhelming numbers, it is being offered this fall season as well.

A movie night will be taking place, featuring the classic baseball film, The Sandlot. Players, families, and the community are invited to pull up a chair on the outfield grass and grab a bag of popcorn for a fun evening for the whole family. And, finally, plans are in the making for some fun Halloween activities at the ball fields.

For more information on Thurmont Little League, please follow the league on Facebook or visit the league website at www.tllbaseball.com.

Ryan Tokar, Thurmont Little League

Thurmont Little League (TLL) closed registration for its fall season on August 15, and practices began in late August for the majority of its players. It was a welcome sight for many; however, for others, it seemed as if there was no off-season to speak of due to the many tournaments and activities the players took part in throughout the summer.

The Thurmont Minors All-Stars represented the league well this summer in two different tournaments. Managed by Jeff Kuhn, with assistants Gregg Warner, Justus Yocum, and John Veronie, the team finished in second place in the Pen Mar “Mayhem on the Mountain Tournament.” However, it was their performance in the Emory Frye Tournament in Brunswick that brought home a championship for Thurmont Little League, after battling it out for several days against some of the top teams in the area. Congratulations to this awesome group of boys on their performance and for making TLL proud!

In late July, the Potter Baseball Tour made its annual stop in Thurmont. Coach Potter and his team travel up and down the coast doing service projects and teaching kids how sports and service go hand-in-hand in building character and doing the right thing. TLL is happy to collaborate with Coach Potter on several activities each year. In the past, they have hosted a charity kickball game and helped update the Thurmont Food Bank. This time around, the crew, along with members of TLL, painted the exterior of the Thurmont Senior Center.

Speaking of Coach Potter, he also helped Thurmont secure a bid in the annual Cooperstown Dreams Tournament, which saw several of our 11- and 12-year-old’s fundraising for the past year in order to take the trip of a lifetime. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, TLL was forced to change up plans and head to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, for The Ripken Experience Tournament. Playing as Potter Pirates Black, the team from Thurmont spent the week in Tennessee playing six games over five-days against great teams from all over the country. The team started the week with an opening ceremony that included inspirational words from former MLB player Ryan Klesko; participated in a skills competition featuring a Home Run Derby, in which TLL’s Brennen Conrad put on an excellent performance; and spent the week bonding and having fun as a team. All in all, it was a great trip that these players will never forget. Each player took home a ring as a keepsake from the event.

Finally, on August 18, TLL held its annual meeting and board of directors election. Results of the election were not immediately available at the time of this writing, but there will be more details on the outcome in next month’s edition. It was a wonderful year for the league financially, as it bounced back well after the lost COVID season during 2020. Highlights included over $5,200 raised on opening day from raffle baskets and spirit wear, $3,000 from TLL discount cards, and the most successful hit-a-thon in league history that brought in over $22,000. TLL could not do any of this without the help of its community and volunteers and is thankful for all of the support, especially during these challenging and uncertain times. We are looking forward to an exciting fall season ahead.

Thurmont Minors All Stars celebrate their championship victory in the Emory Frye Tournament.

Potter Pirates Black team members pose with their rings in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Ryan Tokar, Thurmont Little League

As busy as things have been at Thurmont Little League (TLL), it’s hard to believe that the fall season is only a few short weeks away. Registration opened on July 1 for ages 4-13. TLL will once again be offering five different levels of play: T-ball, instructional (coach pitch), minors, majors, and intermediate. Fall Ball is a great time to start a new player or move up to a higher level of play. It’s a shorter and less rigid schedule that focuses on player development and, most importantly, FUN! The league is also looking for volunteers for all age groups. Managers, assistant coaches, umpires, and team parents are always in demand. Visit the TLL website at www.TLLBaseball.com, and click the registration tab to sign up today!

Despite the fast-approaching fall season, baseball has been ongoing, as tournament teams from the spring season have continued playing throughout the blazing 90-degree days of July. The 9-11 year-old team finished in second place in the 2021 MD District 2 Tournament. After playing six days in a row, oftentimes in intense heat, they came up just short in Game 2 of the Championship to Brunswick. This team showed an amazing amount of heart, and many of these players still have one or two more years of Little League left to make another run at the championship. Meanwhile, the 11-12 year-old team represented TLL well with their showing in the District Tournament. They started out with a decisive win over Mountain Valley, before losing back-to-back games against impressive Brunswick and Montgomery County teams. For many of these players, it was their last time putting on a uniform representing TLL. We are proud of their many accomplishments and wish them the best of luck as they move on to the next level. The tournament season will wrap up in August, as the Minors all-star team competes in two different tournaments in Brunswick and Pen Mar.

There were plenty of other activities to keep our players and volunteers busy this summer. On Saturday, July 26, players, coaches, and board members participated in the Emmitsburg Heritage Parade.  Two floats representing TLL tossed candy to the crowd and advertised the upcoming registration for Fall Ball. Everyone had a great time, and afterwards, all the players got a chance for a photo with the State Champion Catoctin Cougars baseball team. It was an amazing opportunity for these young players to see what they might achieve in the future through continued practice and hard work. On June 30, TLL was the host location for the attempt at breaking the record for the World’s Largest Game of Catch. Despite poor weather, and an all-star game that drew many of the expected attendees out of town, there were still 90 participants from Thurmont, with a total of $665 raised for CureSearch. In total, there were 862 participants in 48 locations around the United States. Unfortunately, they came up just shy of the record, but plans are already in place for another attempt next year (hopefully, with better weather this time around). All participants will still receive a pin commemorating the event.

Finally, in mid-July, Thurmont played host to the 2021 Intermediate State Championship. The games were held at East End Park on the newly renovated field behind the police station. Special thanks to the Town of Thurmont Public Works staff who worked hard on improvements to the field, dugouts, and surrounding areas. Also, to Guardian Lawn Care and PJ’s Roofing, who completed work on the installation of a new pitcher’s mound and setting new bases. The Thurmont Senior Center was also gracious enough to allow volunteers to cool off inside and also to use their kitchen for concessions. Teams from all over the state came to Thurmont to be a part of the event. An opening ceremony was held honoring all guests; featuring the Mayor of Thurmont, color guard from the Thurmont Cub Scouts, and representatives from D2, as well as TLL. Food from The Sauced Savage, JT’s Catering, TLL Concessions, and Kona Ice kept the crowd fed and hydrated throughout the week. The team from Maugansville, Maryland, ended up as the 2021 State Champion. All in all, it was a great event for the town of Thurmont.           

Thurmont and Brunswick all-star teams pose after the Championship Game.

Thurmont Little League players pose on their float during the Emmitsburg Heritage Parade.

Ryan Tokar, Thurmont Little League

The regular season came to an end for the Thurmont Little League (TLL), but there was still a lot of baseball to be played!

As the normal slate of games concluded, the league quickly moved into All-Star and tournament season.  First up were the TLL In-House All-Star games for the T-ball and Instructional (Coach Pitch) divisions, which were held on Saturday, June 12. Representatives from T-ball included Addison Ling, Parker Ketterman, Madelyn Toms, Logan Otto, Mireya and Harlen Chavez, Reid Thurston, Jaycee Moriyama, Erin Mcgrew, M.J. Hoke, Jett Derr, Riley Woodward, Ben Roberts, Franek Zielinski, Garret Troxell, Wyatt Murray, Caleb Lynn, Lily Tankersly, Caleb Valentine, Tyler Warfield, and Riley Woodward. The teams were managed by Mark Lingg and Evan Atkinson. The Instructional rosters were made up of Brayden Nash, Hunter Crabb, Aaron Oden, Payton Fritz, Xavier Meekins, Dennis Smith, Cheyenne Jones, Stiven Makarov, Gage Emert, Angus Riddle, Ryan May, Levi Baker, Julian Thompson, Bryce Rickerd, Abby Harrington, Harper Holmes, Devin Riffle, Luke Wiles, Chris Kehne, Bryant Price, Gracen Baer, and Riley Workman. Managers for this game were Robbie Nash and Darryl Dextradeur. Congrats to all of these future stars on a great season of baseball!

Next up was the Minor League division In-House playoffs, which included a host of extremely hard-fought games, culminating in the Thurmont Nationals becoming back-to-back league champs, overcoming a valiant effort by the Cubs. This was an extremely hard-fought game that came all the way down to the final at bat. Both teams put forth a tremendous amount of effort and displayed excellent sportsmanship throughout the game. The Nationals were managed by Jeff Kuhn, with assistants John Veronie, Darren Hudson, and Tim Swartz. The roster included players: Weston Tyler, Mason Delcid, Myles Kuhn, Tyler Creel, Jeremy Veronie, Noah Bradbury, Desean Brown, Colt Hudson, Herbie Blache, and Daniel Genemans. Congrats to the Nationals on another successful campaign. After their regular season ended, many of these teams also participated in the Frederick City Minor Tournament, which provided even more valuable experience for their players. Additionally, there will be a Minors All-Star team traveling to play in the Emory Frye Memorial 11U Tournament and the Penmar Youth League Tournament. Managed by Jeff Kuhn, with assistants John Veronie and Gregg Warner, the team is made up of Daniel Genemans, Myles Kuhn, Jeremy Veronie, Camden Magluilo, Devin Youngerman, Ayden Wolfe, Eli Yocum, Weston Tyler, Desean Brown, Tyler Creel, Colton Warner, Landon Kelley-Voisine, and Parker Hahn.

The Major Division was represented by two teams in end-of-season tournaments as well. The league champion Brewers, managed by Chris Morlan, played in the Gregg Quedeweit Memorial Tournament of Champions at Brunswick Little League. Meanwhile, the second-place Orioles and Manager John Code played in the Dave Fogle Tournament at Frederick National Little League. The team fought extremely hard and finished in second place. There will be two All-Star teams from the major’s division. The 11-12 year-old team managed by Keith Myers will play in the District 2 Tournament. Players selected were Carson Fry, Connor Smith, Gage Eyler, Hunter Byington, Jay Code, Justice Myers, Lane Koenig, Layton Wilhide, Mason Fry, Mason Hewitt, Skyler Sotzky, and Tanner Shorb. John Code and Jeff Eyler will serve as assistant coaches. The 10-11 year-old team will begin their District 2 Tournament on June 26. This team is managed by Chris Morlan with assistant coaches Brandon McQuay and Adam Cregger. The roster includes Weston Brantner, Brody McQuay, Chase Cregger, Brayden Rickerd, Grayson Strobel, Nate Morlan, Tucker Bryant, Bracen Webb, Justin Salonis, Reed McCauley, Ethan Tokar, Noah Shankle, and Marcus Kuhn. Congratulations to all the teams participating in tournaments this summer.

In addition to the full slate of year-end tournaments, TLL will also be taking part in several fun community events. On Saturday, June 26, the league will be riding in the Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day Parade with several teams participating. Then, they will play host to the Guinness World Record Game of Catch on Wednesday, June 30, at 7:00 p.m. Sponsored by The Potter Baseball Tour, Thurmont will be one of over 100 virtual locations participating across the country. Along with having a memorable time (and receiving a medallion), all proceeds will go towards CureSearch, a non-profit organization that does research on pediatric cancer. The cost is $10.00 for ages 13 and over, and $5.00 for ages 12 and under. All ages and skill levels are welcome. Refreshments will be available, including The Sauced Savage food truck and Kona Ice. Please come out and join in the fun and help raise money for an incredible cause!

Thanks to everyone that came out to support the league this year. Following the loss of our last spring season due to COVID-19, it was great to be back on the fields to celebrate 70 seasons of TLL! Fall registrations will be opening in July, so be sure to sign up to be a part of a tremendous organization.

Minor League Championship post-game, featuring the Cubs and League Champion Nationals.

Deb Abraham Spalding

AIM stands for Academics, Integrity, and Marksmanship. It’s the youth program for the ATA (Amateur Trapshooting Association), a national and worldwide program. “This is a sport,” explained Maryland AIM Director, Chuck Farmer, “and it’s the safest sport you can play. Safety is built into the program, so there aren’t accidents. It builds the responsibility, respect, and discipline that carries on to everything else in life. That’s what sports are really about, and ALL that shooting sports are about- and it’s FUN!”

Farmer took the lead when the AIM program was moved to Thurmont two years ago. Dick Hughes had run the program for many years at Harvey’s Cedar Gun Club near Baltimore but turned it over to Farmer as the new director when his attention shifted in other directions.

In Thurmont, Farmer has appreciated the many volunteers who have stepped forward to create an active committee of support. Older trapshooters, members of area sportsman’s clubs, Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, and other professional adult volunteers dedicate time and effort to the annual event. He said, “It’s a good thing to have it here in Frederick County.” Now, a non-profit Maryland State AIM committee has been formed. “It’s all about growing the youth programs,” he added. “We’d like to expand to make Frederick County the central hub in Maryland for all youth-shooting sports, including sporting clays, skeet, five-stand, trap, and the pistol and rifle shooting sports.”

AIM encompasses and supports all the area’s youth trapshooting organizations including 4-H Shooting Sports, Boy Scouts, High School Rodeo Shooting Sports, Conservation club teams, USA High School Clay Target teams, Scholastic SCTP teams (there’s one starting up in Thurmont and one currently at Mt Airy IWLA). To form a team, a squad of at least five shooters is required. Call Chuck Farmer at 301-988-2809 or email MDATA.AIM@yahoo.com with inquiries.

On June 12, 2021, AIM members hosted the Maryland State AIM Championship at the Sportsman’s Club in Thurmont. Four age groups comprise the AIM program: Pre-Sub (11 and under); Sub Junior (12-14), Junior 15-18, and Junior Gold (up to age 23). The day after this shoot, the Pennsylvania State AIM Shoot was held in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. Farmer said, “It’s a state competition, but you’re really competing against yourself. You’re earning targets to go towards the bigger contests. That’s why you’ll see youngsters side-by-side with adults while competing and everyone competes on their own level and ability. The best part is that anyone can participate- even if you are in a wheel chair.”

Grand American Nationals are coming up from July 30 to August 3 in Sparta, Illinois, with shooters from countries all over the world. At that event, there will be Olympic shooters, professional shooters, youth shooters, and more.

Farmer shared, “We probably have already 15-20 from the area’s new high school clay target team (Frederick Stars & Stripes) that are interested in going to the National event. The Grand American is rich with history with many people who participated over the years such as Annie Oakley, Roy Rogers and John Philip Sousa.” The Grand American at the World shooting Complex is the largest shooting competition in the World with a trapshooting firing line  over 3.5 miles long. The World Shooting Complex is also the current home of the Trapshooting Hall of Fame Museum and worth a visit if in the area.

Brian Ferris, Director of a new program in West Virginia, will host their first State Shoot in Winchester, Virginia, July 10 and 11, trying to model after Maryland’s AIM program.

AIM members may go to any local gun club, or even visit another club to shoot while on vacation. The kids are the future of their clubs and of the sport. The Thurmont Conservation & Sportsman’s Club (TCSC) hosts frequent shooting opportunities. If someone would like to make a contribution to AIM or the Club, they can do that.

Vice President at TCSC, Jeff Plum, is also the Thurmont Sportsman’s Club’s pool chairman. He said, “The pool is open,” and encourages membership at the Club.

Special thanks are extended to all the sponsors, including the Thurmont Conservation & Sportsman’s Club, Brunswick ACE Hardware, Butler Tire, Rentals Unlimited, Whistle Stop Smokehouse, National Wild Turkey Federation, NFM Lending—Jeremy Poling, MD State High School Clay Target League, Shotgun Shooting Supplies, J&B Real Estate—Elle Smith, Evolve Stone, PJ’s Roofing, Tuscarora Gun Club, R&R Guns, Hafers & Skeeter’s Gun Shop.

Special thanks also to the event’s caterer, Mission BBQ, and Rita’s Italian Ice who provided the treat trailer.

Maryland AIM Director, Chuck Farmer, explains the rules and process of the Annie Oakley competition during the MD State AIM Championship on June 12, 2021.

Shooters rotate turns and positions in groups of up to five per squad.

Shoot Out winner, Tami Nanan, won the coveted Maryland State Leather Shooting Bag, donated by Shamrock Leathers.

Elmo (Lawrence “Elmo” Keller) suddenly passed away at a trap shoot in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, on April 29, 2021. He was a fixture at the Thurmont Conservation & Sportsman’s Club, where he looked forward to the competition of shooting trap as often as possible.

“Elmo” looked forward to helping with any youth event since he was “a big kid at heart.” He had a positive impact on the trapshooting community and at the Thurmont Conservation & Sportsman’s Club in Thurmont, always lending a supporting word to youngsters and adults alike.

“He was quite a character,” said his wife, Linda. She explained Elmo’s competitive adventures in bowling, archery, trap, race cars (in the poor man’s class), and fishing.

It wasn’t uncommon for Elmo to take a trip down to the boat ramp at the Club to see the eagles. He appreciated and shared a connection to nature and a love for all of its wonders and critters.

Blair Garrett

Pickleball is one of America’s fastest-growing sports.

Despite its name, pickleball involves no eating or food-based projectiles. It’s a hybrid of tennis and badminton, meant for two or four players to face off in high-octane rallies by launching a perforated ball on each other’s side of the court.

Its similarities to tennis are plenty. Pickleball features a low net, and the cross-court serving and design are very close to its not-so-distant cousin.

Pickleball’s court size and speed of play relate more to badminton, and the slotted wiffleball-style ball takes some of the heat off power shots and serves but allows for creativity when hitting drop shots and shots with a “little bit of English on them.”

The paddles used in pickleball more closely resemble ping-pong paddles.

There are a few rules unique to pickleball, including a non-volley zone to limit spiking of the ball, and only the serving team can score. In doubles, once both serving players on a team lose a rally, the serve switches to the other team. Games are played to 11, and a team must win by two.

The sport’s popularity is due in large part to how easy it is to set up and how convenient it is for local community buildings to fit multiple pickleball games in one gym. It helps that the mechanics and general idea of the gameplay are pretty widely understood since they mirror other more popular games; and, while it can be a great workout, the cardio demand doesn’t involve quite as much back-and-forth running as tennis does.

Pickleball is an exciting new game for kids to get into, seniors who are looking to get their steps in, and just about everyone in-between. It’s a game that can be a pleasant, social outing with friends and family, or it can be a competitive, action-packed battle among seasoned players.

The game has come a long way since its inception, and the competitive scene is thriving. There are now 45 international pickleball associations, including Pickleball World Championships held each year to determine the best-of-the-best players across the globe. There is a $100,000 prize pool and tons of different divisions to give people of various ages and skill sets a shot at a championship.    

There’s a local option for new or experienced players at the Fort Ritchie Community Center, where they have pickleball pickup games open to members and to pickleball enthusiasts of all skill levels. It’s a great way to meet some new people and to try something completely new in a fun, fast-paced environment. 

Fort Ritchie Community Center has reserved time slots for pickup games throughout the week. So, if you’ve got a hunger for some pickleball action, check out a time that works best for you.

Whether your goal is just to get some exercise or to blaze up the professional ranks, it’s a great indoor and outdoor activity to get you moving.

Ryan Tokar

On Saturday, May 1, 2021, Thurmont Little League (TLL) held its annual hit-a-thon fundraiser. This is the largest annual fundraiser for the league, and proceeds go towards necessities like field maintenance, uniforms, concession upgrades, and general complex improvements. With TLL celebrating its 70th season of baseball, the community came out in support of the league in a BIG way. This year’s hit-a-thon brought in over $22,000 in online and cash donations, the largest amount raised in league history!

The concept of the hit-a-thon is simple. Players receive one hit for every $10 raised, for a maximum of 10 hits. They can continue to raise additional money above and beyond that in order to win prizes. A bonus hit is also awarded if a player brings a non-perishable food for the Thurmont Food Bank. Prizes are awarded to the top overall fundraisers and also to the players who hit the ball the longest distance. The intermediate, major and minor divisions are judged on where the ball lands, while the instructional and T-ball divisions are given credit for how far the ball rolls.

Distance winners for this year’s hit-a-thon were: Majors—Noah Shankle (218 ft.), Lane Koenig (213 ft.), and Jay Code (207 ft.); Minors—Landon Kelley-Voisine (174 ft.), Austin Vernon (164 ft.), and Jeremy Veronie (153 ft.); Instructional—Ryan May (154 ft.), Levi Baker (152 ft.), and Devin Riffle (148 ft.); T-ball—Mireya Chavez (131 ft.), Garett Troxell (126 ft.), and Logan Otto (125 ft.)

Overall fundraising winners were: Ethan Smith (Minors Yankees) with $1,160, Caleb Valentine (T-ball Hot Rods) with $1,000, and Hunter Byington (Majors Nationals) with $800. They will each be awarded an Amazon gift card for their prize. The teams with the most overall donations earned a free pizza party: T-ball Hotrods with $1,510, Instructional Orioles with $2,165, Minors Yankees with $2,011, and the Majors Orioles with $1,330. Along with the $22,000 raised, the league also collected several hundred non-perishable goods that were donated to the Thurmont Food Bank to help those in need. TLL would like to thank the community, parents, and volunteers for their support. Without you, this event would not have been such a tremendous success.

The spring season is winding down, and we are moving toward end-of-the-season tournaments and All-Star games. Look for more information in next month’s issue!

Courtesy Photo

The three players with the longest hits: Noah Shankle (middle), Lane Koenig (left) and Jay Code (right).

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.