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BLAIR GARRETT

Nine Catoctin High School (CHS) seniors officially signed on to further their education while playing sports at the next level. All nine athletes excelled in their sports, helping to propel each of their teams and teammates to be better every day. CHS held a signing day ceremony to let the head coaches share with the athletes’ friends and families what kind of competitor and person they’ve seen each player blossom into.

Few people in a high school athlete’s life see the growth and development that a coach does. The students who go on to compete in college are among the most driven and dedicated to keep improving each day, and a good coach takes notice of that. Each one of these athletes has put an exceptional amount of time into their craft. Putting in the hours on the fields, courts, tracks, and in the gym, coupled with a good attitude, can take you a long way, and each one of these student-athletes has demonstrated that day after day.

Football: Wyatt Davis has committed to play at Shippensburg University in the fall, and the Raiders will be lucky to have him. Davis played defensive end and tackle for Catoctin and was a driving force on the defensive line.

Track and Field: Jenna Zentz is taking her talents to Towson University, where she will look to continue her successes on the track. Zentz ran a variety of events for the Cougars, including relays and 100- through 800-meter races.

Baseball: A pair of star athletes, Noland Kinna and Dalton Williams, have signed their letters of intent to play ball in college, and both have meant a tremendous deal to CHS during their time playing there. Kinna, a commit to the College of Southern Maryland, was involved in a myriad of school programs, and he became a key piece to Catoctin’s back-to-back great seasons. Williams will go on to play at High Point University. Both players were part of the state championship winning season in 2021, helping CHS grab its second championship title.

Softball: Catoctin softball’s Kara Watkins and Avery Sickeri have been integral in the team’s phenomenal season. From start to finish, the Cougars have been dominant, with Watkins and Sickeri helping the team capture the Central Maryland Conference Championship en route to a 17-2 season. Watkins is set to join Shenandoah University’s softball team, while Sickeri looks to make waves at West Chester University.

Girls Basketball: With a talent-packed lineup and a lot of hard work, seniors Emma Wivell and Emily Williams helped push Catoctin to the state finals in the team’s 23-3 season. The seniors had great individual accomplishments as well, with Wivell making the Maryland Basketball Coaches Association (MBCA) 1st team, and Williams making the MBCA 2nd team. Wivell has committed to Salisbury University while Williams has committed to Shenandoah University.

Boys Basketball: Though the team had a rocky season, Catoctin’s Ryan Burke played a key role in the successes the boys had over the course of the season. Burke, a shooting guard, plans to play next season with Hagerstown Community College, and will look to make an impact just as he did with the Cougars.

Congratulations to all graduating seniors and to the student athletes who put in years of effort to take their careers to the next step. 

(above) Avery Sickeri and Coach Jessica Valentine.

(above) Kara Watkins, family, and coaching staff.

(above) CHS Principal Jennifer Clements addresses the student athletes.

(avove) Noland Kinna (seated left) and Dalton Williams (seated right) with CHS baseball team.

(above seated) Wyatt Davis and Jenna Zentz are shown.

(above) Emma Wivell and Emily WIlliams.

Ryan Tokar, Thurmont Little League

It’s hard to believe another season at Thurmont Little League (TLL) has nearly come to an end. Despite the weather being unpredictable at times, it’s been another fun and successful spring! There have been lots of big events around the complex as of late, beginning with our first-ever District 2 Softball Mixer. We were lucky to have a rare, beautiful Saturday, as the league played host to 12 teams from multiple districts, spanning from Hancock to Lower Montgomery County. The TLL concession stand was rocking, serving up delicious treats to all the visitors, along with The Sauced Savage and Kona Ice. We received a lot of compliments about our facilities and how well-run the event was, and we can’t wait to host more of these in the future. A big thank you to everyone who contributed to making this event a success.

On Saturday, May 14, 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 the addition of our new softball program this year, as well as a record number of registrations, expectations were high that last year’s record-breaking total would be surpassed. Our TLL families and the surrounding community did not disappoint. This year’s hit-a-thon brought in nearly $28,000 in online and cash donations, the largest amount raised in league history! The hit-a-thon is an extremely fun event for our players. Players receive one hit for every $10.00 raised (for a maximum of 10 hits). They can continue to raise additional money in order to win prizes. A bonus hit is also awarded if a player brings a non-perishable item 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 major and minor divisions are judged on where the ball lands, while the softball, 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—Chase Cregger (216 ft.), Marcus Kuhn (199 ft.), and Barry Riddle (190 ft.); Minors—Desean Brown (216 ft.), Nemo Dewees-Johnson (175 ft.), and Chase Dumas (143 ft.);  Instructional—Logan Stephens (156 ft.), Jaiden Poole (120 ft.), and Travis Haller (118 ft.); T-ball—Dixie Eckenrode (125 ft.), Chase Atkins (123 ft.), and Gregory Arellana (122 ft.). TLL softball had a great showing for their first year participating. Distance winners from our softball program were: Delaney Warner (162 ft.), Madilynn Hollingshead (154 ft.), and Allison Lyman (145 ft.).

The overall fundraising winners this year raised some of the highest totals in event history. Congratulations to the following winners: Carson Unger (T-ball Royal Blue)—$1,400, Ethan Smith (Minors Brewers)—$850, and Maverick Cox (T-ball Vegas Gold)—$750. They will each be awarded an Amazon gift card for their prize. In addition to the individual winners, the teams with the most overall donations earn a free pizza party at the end of the season. Highest earning teams were: T-ball Vegas Gold—$2,145, Instructional Wolf Pack—$1,997, Minors Brewers—$1,810, Majors Cubs—$1,707, and Minors Softball Outlaws—$1,214. Along with the close to $28,000 raised, the league also collected several hundred non-perishable goods, which 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, with games concluding in early June. We will then move on to the end of the season tournaments and All-Star games. Look for more information in next month’s issue!

Players line the field during opening ceremonies of the Thurmont Little League’s 2022 season.

Majors winners: Chase Cregger—1st place; Barry Riddle—3rd place

Marcus Kuhn—2nd place.

Ryan Tokar, Thurmont Little League

Baseball is officially back at Thurmont Little League (TLL). The four TLL majors teams kicked off the spring season by participating in the annual Garel Hauver Memorial Tournament, hosted by Brunswick Little League. Despite the frigid temperatures and mixture of wind, rain, and even snow over the course of the two days, each team was able to pick up at least one victory over their competitors. The TLL Angels and Orioles went undefeated on the first day, and both advanced to the semifinals on day two. Both teams fought hard against tough teams from Brunswick, and ultimately, the Orioles would advance to the championship game, where they finally ran out of steam and finished as the overall runner-up. Regardless, it was an extremely impressive achievement, and everyone at TLL was proud of their effort and the way they represented Thurmont Little League.

After months of planning, opening day arrived on Saturday, April 2. After soggy weather forced the cancellation of our games and several activities in 2021, the league was determined to make this year’s celebration bigger and better then ever. Those who attended know that was definitely the case. The complex was full to the brim, with people parking and walking from blocks away to attend the festivities. The day started off with several T-ball teams taking the field for their first games of the season. Despite some windy weather during the first few games of the morning, the sun peeked out for the first time in what seemed like ages and made for a beautiful day to celebrate.

Once the first slate of games were completed, a welcoming address was made by League President Robbie Nash, who kicked off the league’s 71st season. Robbie expressed how thankful the league was for the tremendous outpouring of support the league receives on a yearly basis. This year was no exception, as TLL had the highest number of registrations ever, at over 330 players. In an effort to help with crowd control due to these massive numbers, the league held dual ceremonies again 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 3:00 p.m. for the minor, majors, and softball programs.

Next up, was a bit of a somber moment, as the league paid tribute to our Chief Safety Officer, Chris Morlan, who passed away in December after a lengthy battle with COVID-19. Chris was an extremely dedicated member of the TLL family, serving on the board for many years and volunteering as a manager at almost every divisional level. He was always there to help out whenever needed at any of the league’s events, from tournaments and parades to our movie nights and trunk or treat. As TLL kicked off a new season, it was hard to envision Chris not being there to be a part of it, and although he may be gone, he will certainly not be forgotten. Every TLL team will wear a special patch on their jersey this year in honor of Coach Chris.

The Morlan family was invited on to the field to line up along the first base line with many of his brothers from local fire departments joining them. President Nash then welcomed two of Chris’s long-time team members, Chase Cregger and Brody McQuay, to lead the players in reciting the Little League pledge. Next, his mother, Gina Morlan, was invited out to lead everyone in the Parent/Volunteer Pledge. Gina has been a fixture in the TLL concession stand for many years and has also helped with several other events, so she was the perfect choice for this responsibility. During the second ceremony, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins recited the pledge before wishing all players good luck during the upcoming season. On hand to throw out the first pitch for both ceremonies were several of Chris’s children. Son, Bodhi Morlan, and daughter, Abby, performed the duties during the first ceremony, while his older sons, Patrick and Nathan, handled the second. Afterwards, the family was presented with a memorial plaque, commemorating Chris and everything he meant to the league.

Finally, members of the Thurmont Cub Scouts took the field to present the colors before the singing of our National Anthem. This year, it was performed by Thurmont Middle School student, Alaina Furry, who honored our country with a beautiful rendition. Alaina has two brothers who have played baseball at TLL for many years, and she was excited to represent the TLL family. To close the ceremony, Robbie thanked everyone for coming and also recognized the many volunteers and board members who made the event so successful.

After the ceremonies, families and players stayed around to enjoy delicious BBQ by The Sauced Savage, who sold completely out by the end of the event. New this year was ice cream and sandwiches from Glamourview Creamery, who brought a smile to many faces with the size of their cups and cones. And, as always, there were other tasty items from the TLL Concession Stand. The brand-new popcorn machine was a big hit among the youngsters in the crowd! Many vendors were on hand throughout the day. Pivot Physical Therapy, Crucible Performance, Thurmont Cub Scouts, Thurmont Library, and CYA Football had tables to provide information about their services.

Other highlights of the day included a photo booth, complete with balloon archway and fun photo props; meet and greets with Keyote and The Oriole Bird; and Facepainting by Elizabeth, who had a line stretching across the parking lot. Additionally, equipment from the Frederick County Sheriff’s office and many local fire and ambulance companies were there for players to explore and get their pictures with. All in all, it was a wonderful day, with lots of fun for everyone who took part.

Fundraising is always a big part of the opening day ceremony, and this year was no exception. The community showed up in a big way to support the league this year, as the basket raffles and spiritwear tables generated over $13,000 for the league. People were excited to get their TLL t-shirts, hats, and hoodies, and to take a chance at one of the 25 wonderful prizes. The Grand Prize was a custom-made Thurmont Little League cornhole set, generously donated by TLL parent and Coach, B.J. Schildt. The winners were Trevor and Meghan Swain. The league would like to thank all the local businesses that donated to our baskets; without this support, we could not have generated the interest and raised the money that we did. To view a full list, please check out the Thurmont Little League page on Facebook.

The next big event will be the hit-a-thon on May 14, which is the largest annual fundraiser for the league and helps to raise money for uniforms, field maintenance, and everything else the league needs to make a great experience for its players and fans. 

Be sure to check out the next edition of The Catoctin Banner for a recap of that event and all the other happenings from around the Thurmont Little League.

Thurmont Middle School student, Alaina Furry, sings our National Anthem.

TLL coach pitch teammates are shown.

Members of the Thurmont Cub Scouts take the field to present the colors.

Keyote and The Oriole Bird are shown with a TLL fan on Opening Day.

Jack Bowman

As winter turns to spring and the end of the school year approaches, the spring sports at Mount St. Mary’s University have kicked into full gear.

As their seasons begins to wrap up, let’s take a look at how some of the teams are doing.

Men’s Baseball

The Mount baseball team has not exactly had the season they hoped for. Sitting at 9-21 and coming off a rough stretch of games against NEC competition, it’s safe to say that the results have not always been pretty.

There have, though, been some great individual performances.

Senior catcher, Thomas Bramley, leads the team in home runs with eight and has put together a stellar campaign. Sophomores Efrain Correa Jr. and Aiden Tierey have also thrived at the plate.

Women’s Softball

The softball team has had success both in terms of team performance and individual success. Currently sitting at 20-15, the team has played very well throughout the spring.

There have been several awards given to Mount softball players, including Olivia Murphy being named NEC Rookie of the Week, and Abigayle Perry winning NEC Player of the Week.

Perry, in particular, has had a stellar year with five home runs.

Men’s Lacrosse

While the Mount lacrosse team has had its ups and downs on its way to a 5-8 total record, they have pulled off some impressive victories.

Early in the season, they upset Navy in a huge win. The team has also had some individual successes as well, especially with Griffin McGinley taking home a pair of player of the week honors early in the season.

Women’s Lacrosse

The women’s lacrosse team at the Mount has been relatively dominant so far this season with a 10-4 record. They have also played very well against teams in their own conference, boding well for the postseason.

Several players have earned player of the week awards; most recently, Dani Donoghue as the NEC Player of the Week, and Madison Bradley as NEC Defensive Player of the Week.

Other Sports/Notable Achievements

Women’s Bowling: Rebecca Dodson and Tamera Stanton both advanced to the Sweet 16 at the Intercollegiate Singles Championships.

Women’s Golf: Freshman Erika Cui finished 9th at the Quail Valley Spring Invitational. The team finished 5th, overall.

Men’s Golf: The team finished in 4th place at the Abarta Coca-Cola Invitational.


(top left) The Boys Indoor Track Team was recognized at a recent Thurmont Town Office for winning the Maryland State Title. This was the very first State Title for Boys Indoor Track in Catoctin’s history. Great job, Cougars!; (top right) Lady Cougar Basketball won the Regional 1A Championship and progressed to become the Maryland State Semi-Finalists falling to Pikesville 51-42 at the University of Maryland Xfinity Center on March 10, 2022;


(top left) Congratulations to Catoctin’s Softball Coach, Jessica Valentine, on her 200th win—CHS 22 FSK 0; (top right) Catoctin’s Kay Buhrman placed 8th at the State Swim meet in the 500 freestyle. In doing so, her time of 5:37.20 broke the school record.

(top left ) Cougar Nation!; (top middle) Congratulations to Catoctin’s Braden Bell! He brought home the bronze in the 138 lbs. weight class; (top right) Congratulations to Catoctin’s Emma Taylor! Emma wrestled to a 4th place finish in the State wrestling tournament;

Photos Courtesy of Facebook Boosters & Town of Thurmont

CYA Mid Maryland Catoctin JV Boys team won the Mid Maryland “A” Division Championship game. Also, the Mid Maryland Catoctin Varsity Girls team won the Mid Maryland “AA” Division Championship game.

Boys CYA Mid Maryland Catoctin JV Team

CYA Mid Maryland Catoctin JV boys team went undefeated this season in their division, with a 12 to 0 record. They placed 1st overall, with a 14 to 1 record.

The final championship game came down to Catoctin (1st seed) vs. Middletown (2nd seed). Catoctin won 54 to 44.

Gabe Contreras won the MVP of the game.

Mid Maryland Catoctin JV Team (from left): David Boone #24, Ethan Roark #1, Braden Zentz #12, Wyatt Kinna #10, Quinton Thompson #23, Gabe Contreras #11, Eric Harvey (Head Coach), Jenn Cregger (Assistant Coach), Kendall Johnson #15, Ben Bingman #13, Colton Gray #20, Chase Cregger #21, and Carson Fry #5.

Girls Mid Maryland Catoctin Varsity Team

The Mid Maryland Catoctin Varsity Girls team’s regular season record was 12-3, 15-3 after tournament play.

The final championship game was Middletown (1st seed) vs. Catoctin (3rd seed). Catoctin won 41-30.

Harley Fitzpatrick won the MVP of the game and was MVP of the tournament, overall.

For the playoffs, the girls beat Urbana 37-21 in quarterfinals, and they beat Windsor Knolls 36-26 in the semifinals.

Mid Maryland Catoctin Varsity Girls Team (from left): (front) Madelynn Myers, Harley Fitzpatrick, Olivia Hoyt, Josie Shaffer, Caroline Sanders; (middle) Dwight Baumgardner (head coach), Ella Burgee, Madeline Whetzel, Olivia Baker; (back) Ed Sanders (assistant coach), Brooke Williams, Kelsey Troxell, Kassidy Kreitz, and Jesse Williams (assistant coach).

Ryan Tokar, CYA Basketball

On Sunday, January 23, Catoctin Youth Association (CYA) Basketball held its annual shoot-a-thon fundraiser. This is the largest annual fundraiser for the program.  Proceeds go towards necessities like gym rentals, uniforms, equipment, paid officials, and league fees. With the cancelation of its previous season due to COVID-19, it was critical to offset some of the losses in registration fees. The community came out in support of the program in a BIG way. This year’s shoot-a-thon brought in over $13,500 in online and cash donations, one of the largest amounts raised in CYA Basketball history!

The idea behind the shoot-a-thon is simple. Players collect money from sponsors for a chance to win prizes. To be eligible for prizes, each player must raise at least $50.00;  however, they can continue to raise additional money above and beyond that. Prizes are given out to the top overall fundraisers and to the players who have the highest overall percentage of shots made. The number of shots attempted is based on the age group of the player, with anywhere from 20 to 100 shots being attempted. In most cases, shots are attempted from the free throw line; however, the younger ages are moved in several feet closer and shoot on lowered rims. CYA Basketball programs consist of youths ages kindergarten all the way through high school. The boys and girls high school teams served as volunteers to help record the scores for younger players.

The winners of this year’s highest shooting percentage were: Levi Baker—Highest Overall Percentage Foul Shooter; K-1st Clinic—Bryce Yocum; Girl’s 2nd-4th—Peyton Willis; Boy’s 2nd-4th—Luke Wiles; U12 Boys/Girls—Eli McFarland; U14 Boys/Girls—Gage Eyler; Mid MD Boys/Girls—Harley Fitzpatrick. Overall fundraising winners were: 1st Place—Kaydense Cox; 2nd Place— Evan Laird; 3rd Place—Skylar Stidom.

Winners were each awarded a Dick’s Sporting Goods gift card for their prize. The teams with the most overall donations also earned a free pizza party.

Along with the $13,500 raised, the league also collected several hundred non-perishable goods, which were donated to the Thurmont/Emmitsburg Food Banks to help those in need. Players received raffle tickets for each item they donated, and there were three great prize baskets given away. Tyler Creel won the Movie Basket, featuring a Warehouse Cinemas Gift Card and all the snacks you need for a movie night. Brayden Rickerd won the Baseball Basket, which included a free Thurmont Little League registration with other baseball-themed items. Kathleen Davis won the Football Basket, with a free CYA Football/Cheer registration and other items.

Throughout the afternoon, there were activities that included music, a face painter, and team/individual photos. All in all, it was a great day and a wonderful event.

CYA Basketball would like to thank the community, parents, and volunteers for their support. Without you, it would not have been such a tremendous success.

Courtesy Photos

Ryan Tokar, Thurmont Little League

It’s hard to believe another season of Thurmont Little League (TLL) is already under way. It may still be a bit chilly outside, but the season is off to a hot start. The registration period for baseball and our brand-new softball program closed on February 13.

Evaluations for the majors and minors divisions were held on Saturday, February 19. Afterward, the drafts were held and teams were assigned so that practices could officially kick-off.

Our majors-level teams will be hard at work, preparing for the annual Garel Hauver Tournament in Brunswick in late March, which officially kicks off the season. The rest of the league will begin play on TLL’s official opening day: Saturday, April 2.

Opening day is always an exciting event for our league. Family and friends come out to watch all the players be announced, as well as to see some take the field for the very first time. This year, there will once again be split ceremonies to help accommodate parking and keep crowds to a minimum, with the COVID-19 protocols for large gatherings still in place.

The T-ball and instructional teams will have their ceremony in the morning, while minors and majors will take place in the afternoon. There will be delicious treats on-site from the TLL concession stand; and, this year, there will be several food trucks, such as The Sauced Savage, Glamourview Creamery, and Kona Ice. The popular TLL Photo Booth will make its return for all those social media opportunities, and we are expecting visits from local celebrities, such as Safety Pup and The Oriole Bird! Other vendors on-site will include local fire and ambulance crews, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Pivot Physical Therapy, and Crucible Performance.

Another extremely big draw during the opening day ceremonies are the raffle baskets. Tickets will be on sale to win a variety of awesome prizes. Baskets include gift cards and other donated items from a variety of local establishments, such as Carriage House; Kountry Kitchen; Mountain Gate; Wait, What? Sauce Company; McCutcheon’s; the Frederick Keys; and more. We will also be having a 50-50 and a table of Spirit Wear and TLL discount cards for sale. Mark your calendar today; you won’t want to miss out on this awesome event!

As always, we are looking for volunteers for the upcoming season. If you are interested in getting involved, please reach out to us at www.thurmontlittleleague.com. The biggest need is for volunteer umpires. If you are a high school or college student looking for community service hours or semi-retired with time on your hands, we will provide all the necessary training. The league is holding its annual umpire clinic on Sunday, March 6, from 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the TLL complex.

We can’t wait for everything this season has in store for our players and families!

Lady Cougars are pictured after a win against Williamsport in February.

Catoctin Girls Basketball fell to undefeated Urbana on February 22, 2022, at Hood College while competing in the Central Maryland Conference championship game. The Lady Cougars’ record is 19-2, leading into the State Championship playoffs that begin March 1.

Catoctin Boys Indoor Track are Class 1A MD State Champions. They competed on February 22, 2022, at the Baltimore Armory.

Brody Buffington was 1st in the 55m and 300; Furious Trammel was 2nd in the 300 and 5th in the 500; Alexander Contrera was 3rd in the 3200 and 5th in the 1600; Garrett Sullivan was 3rd in the high jump; and Wyatt Davis was 4th in shot put; Catoctin was 4th in the 4×8 and 5th in the 4×2.

Catoctin’s Swimming and Diving Team competed in regionals February 21, 2022, at the Fairland Aquatics Center.


Catoctin Wrestling finished 4th as a team in the Frederick County Tournament. They competed in regionals at the end of February.

All Photos Courtesy of Catoctin High School Sports Boosters Facebook posts

Ryan Tokar, Thurmont Little League

As the ice and snow continue to blanket the ground, it’s hard to believe that baseball season will begin in just a few short weeks. The registration period for baseball and our brand-new softball program will close on February 13. There is still a lot of other work to be done before the season starts.

Evaluations for the minor and major divisions will be held, along with a draft for each. Plans are being made for our opening day celebration, which will once again be split into two ceremonies based on division level. There will be lots of fun activities, delicious food to eat, and great prizes to be won. Fundraising efforts have already begun, with the league beginning to accept donations for the annual basket raffles.

Speaking of fundraisers, a special fundraising night will take place at Roy Rogers on Tuesday, February 1, with proceeds from all orders going to the league. There will also be in-person registration ability available onsite. Come on out for a great meal to support Thurmont Little League (TLL).

We are once again selling discount cards, which are always a popular item. For $20.00, you can purchase a card for unlimited usage at many of your favorite local businesses, everything from a free drink to 20 percent off your order. Several new additions are featured on the cards this year, including Dunkin’ and Los Amigos. Please contact TLL on Facebook or by email at tllnetwork@gmail.com for more information. You may also pick up a discount card at several of the participating restaurants.

With all the exciting things happening during the offseason, we must also take a moment to reflect upon an extremely difficult loss for our organization. On December 23, 2021, our chief safety officer, Chris Morlan, passed away.

Chris was an extremely dedicated member of the TLL family, serving on the board for many years and volunteering as a manager at almost every divisional level. He was always there to help out whenever needed at any of the league’s events, from tournaments and parades to our movie nights and trunk or treat. As we move towards our new season, it’s hard to envision Chris not being there to be a part of it. The board of directors is hard at work thinking of ways to honor his memory and legacy at TLL. While he may be gone, he will certainly not be forgotten.

Be sure to check out next month’s issue of The Catoctin Banner for even more details about our opening day festivities and all the other events going on to kick start our 2022 season!

Jayden Myers

When I entered high school, I never expected to be a part of Unified Sports. As a matter of fact, I never even knew it was a thing.

I became acquainted with Unified Sports through my teacher, Ms. Kelle. One day, I walked into the library for my lunch shift where the Unified Sports Club was meeting. At the time, I didn’t know what they were meeting for. Ms. Kelle stopped me and asked, “Hey, Jayden, do you want to join our club?”

Not knowing what I was about to join, I agreed. I’m truthfully glad I did.

For background, Unified Sports was created to promote meaningful inclusion by bringing people, with and without intellectual disabilities, together. It is based on the belief that this cannot happen without youth leaders. This club is part of many schools around the country.

For those of you who don’t know, bocce, also known as bocce ball and bocci, is an Italian lawn-bowling game. You start with a pallina (a small ball), which is thrown first. Then, the teams roll out four larger bocce balls. The teams earn points based on whose bocce ball is closer to the pallina. The points also depend on if the bocce balls are in a certain range; thus, while in a game, you’ll notice they measure to see how far a bocce is from the pallina. 

I joined Unified Sports and ended up loving it. I played alongside Logan Dukich, MaKenzie Lewis, Carli Mazaleski, Dominic McKenny, Lucas Phelan, Siddah Robbins, Oliver Vasquez, and Jonny Wastler. Plus, our wonderful coaches, Ms. Kelle Brumley and Mrs. Charmane Nesbitt.

Without Ms. Kelle and Mrs. Nesbitt, none of this would have been possible. They create a great environment for the students and make sure that everything is taken care of. I’m glad to call them my coaches.

With Unified Sports joining part of the regular sports program, hopefully kids, now and in the future, will have an avenue to socialize and be a part of a fun and competitive environment, without some of the physical strains of traditional sports.

This team has become more like a family over the last few months, and this adventure has been a phenomenal one to embark on.

Team members: (from left) Carli Mazaleski, Kenzie Lewis, Siddah Robbins, Logan Dukich, Jayden Myers, Dominic McKenney, and Oliver Vasquez. Not present for photo: Lucas Phelan and Jonny Wastler.

Courtesy Photo

Ryan Tokar, Thurmont Little League

There is no such thing as a quiet offseason at Thurmont Little League (TLL), and this year has been no exception. The board of directors has stayed busy with big plans for the upcoming season.

When the fall season ended, the league immediately began work on its typical offseason activities, such as field and complex improvements. A great deal of work has been done on the minor and major league fields to continue to improve upon playing conditions after they were completely re-done last year. New sod was laid down in some areas, and things are on track for both fields to be in even better shape for the start of the spring season.

Speaking of which, registrations will open on January 1 for the upcoming 2022 season. Players, ages 4-13, are able to register for the appropriate division, from T-ball all the way up through Intermediate. And, new for this year, TLL is happy to be adding softball programs to its list of offerings! Three levels of play will be available for a variety of ages, including coach pitch, minors, and majors. We are very excited about the opportunity to offer this new program to the local community. Registration will close on February 13, so don’t miss out. Visit www.TLLBaseball.com today.

With the addition of the new softball program, there are other changes coming, including a new website. The website will be changing in the very near future to the more encompassing www.ThurmontLittleLeague.com. On top of that, TLL will be welcoming three new board members to help oversee all aspects of the new softball division. We would like to thank the following individuals for stepping up to the plate to help us get this program off the ground: Melissa Stidom—V.P. Softball; Ashley Balsley—Softball Player Agent; and Heather Crummitt—Board Member at Large.

Now more than ever, TLL 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, 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, fundraising has continued this offseason, thanks to our friends at Thurmont Roy Rogers. Several successful fundraising nights have been held, with Roys donating 25 percent of the proceeds back to the league. The next event will be held on Friday, January 14. We will also be selling the wildly popular TLL discount cards again this year, so be on the lookout for those in the upcoming months. Plans for opening day on Saturday, April 2, are already under way. We can’t wait to see everyone back out on the fields soon!

Last year, a local group of players and coaches from Thurmont Little League (TLL) teamed up to plan the baseball trip of a lifetime to 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. However, as was the case with many other things, the COVID-19 pandemic had other ideas. Unfortunately, instead of heading to Cooperstown, the team had to pivot and travel to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, to participate in The Ripken Experience Tournament. It was a great experience for all involved, but the players did miss out on touring the Baseball Hall of Fame and many of the other opportunities that only Cooperstown can provide.

This year, with the help of Coach Jeff Potter from the Potter Baseball Tour, the team was able to secure a spot to return to Cooperstown for this summer’s event from August 3-9, 2022. The team, consisting of 12 players and 3 coaches from the Thurmont and Emmitsburg area, will play under the name Potter Pirates Black. The Thurmont community and TLL have partnered with Potter Baseball on several activities over the past few years, including a charity kickball tournament to benefit the Fuse Teen Center, a painting project on the exterior of the Thurmont Food Bank, and upgrades to the façade of the Thurmont Senior Center. They are excited to partner with Coach Potter and his organization again for this amazing opportunity. The local team will consist of players Tucker Bryant, Chase Cregger, Brandon DeGrange, Mason Hewitt, Reed McCauley, Brody McQuay, Nate Morlan, Justice Myers, Brayden Rickerd, Graysen Strobel, Ethan Tokar, and Bracen Webb. Manager Keith Myers and Assistant Coaches Brandon McQuay and Lane Strobel 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 donating a portion of their proceeds from scheduled fundraiser nights on the first Friday of each month. In addition, there has also been a Tastefully Simple fundraiser, courtesy of Dawn Fisher, and a World Series grid fundraiser in support of the team. A MightyCause online fundraiser has also been established as a method of collecting online donations. Upcoming fundraisers include Bingo on Sunday, January 9, at the Lewistown Fire Hall; the selling of Super Bowl squares; and a benefit breakfast at Trinity UCC on Saturday, March 19.

For more information on how you can help support this worthy cause, please contact Team Manager Keith Myers at keithmyers07@gmail.com.

Blair Garrett

After nearly two years without a consistent schedule, high school sports are officially back on track.

Catoctin High School athletes have had to navigate abridged seasons and restrictions, cutting down opportunities for student athletes to compete since the spring season of 2020. Some students have missed out on half of their high school athletic seasons due to the ongoing pandemic. And, with cold and flu season in full swing, the future remains uncertain.

For now, though, students finally have a consistent schedule to compete with other athletes around the region.

Regular seasons for popular winter sports like basketball, wrestling, and swimming have had fans itching to get back to normal. Even the playoff format once again follows the standard format from non-COVID years. 

“As of right now, everything is normal with regards to playoffs, Athletic Director Keith Bruck said. “It’s the same structure we’ve had pre-COVID with the region format and championship schedule, so hopefully that continues.”

Though students and fans have reason to be excited for winter sports, there are still regulations and precautions to be followed for everyone in attendance.

“This year for the fans, coaches, and everyone inside the gymnasium, they have to wear a mask,” Bruck said. “While the players are actively engaged in the sport, they don’t have to wear a mask.”

This is a big development from last season, where players for indoor sports like basketball were required to play masked throughout the duration of the game.

“When a kid is on the court for basketball, they don’t have to wear a mask, but when they come off the court, they’re expected to put a mask on,” Bruck said.

No matter how small the progress is to working toward normalcy, the goal is to keep taking the proper precautions seriously to allow students to continue pursuing athletics. Even if some of the rules are uncomfortable at times, it beats missing out on another season of high school sports.

The local support has been great through the first few weeks of winter sports, with fans making their voices heard from the stands. “Attendance has been about the same as it was in previous years,” Bruck said. “Folks are anxious to get back and see their favorite teams.”

With fans and players only getting to experience a glimpse of a normal season in 2020, this season’s athletes are excited for a chance to do it right. “We had a really short winter season last year, so I think folks want to get back to watching high school sports,” Bruck said.

Fans will have plenty of opportunities to catch Catoctin sports over the winter break, with wrestling and basketball tournaments highlighting the end of December. Both tournaments will allow students to showcase the hard work they have been putting in all year to prepare for their time to shine.

With the turning of the page into the new year, Track and Field and Swimming meets become a big deal for hundreds of athletes in the region. These events typically bring multiple schools together, so the continuation of group competitions is a hugely positive sign for the state of high school sports.

A particularly close-contact sport like wrestling having the green light to carry on is also encouraging. Prevention of COVID transmission between wrestlers seems almost impossible, but, fortunately, programs have had good luck this season avoiding any delays and shutdowns due to outbreaks.   

“We haven’t had to pause with any of our teams so far,” Bruck said. “We’ve had individual cases here and there, but we haven’t had to stop our teams from practicing or playing.”

It’s no secret that everyone wants the COVID nightmare behind us, and the athletes finally have something concrete to focus on as they push through their regular seasons toward playoffs. The opportunity to compete for a state title is something these athletes won’t take for granted.

You can catch Catoctin sports from the jump in 2022, with all games, meets, and matches listed on the Catoctin High School athletic calendar at www.fcps.org.

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.