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Celebrating Coach Rick Brocato's Induction into the Hall of Fame

I am beyond proud to share the incredible news that my high school lacrosse coach, Rick Brocato, is being inducted into the National Interscholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame in 2024. This well-deserved honor is a testament to Coach Broc’s outstanding career, marked by his remarkable success and profound impact on the lacrosse community.

Coach Broc's tenure at St. Paul’s was nothing short of extraordinary. With 241 wins over 17 seasons, he led our team to countless victories, including the unforgettable 2010 MIAA championship. His ability to inspire and guide us to our fullest potential made every game and practice an opportunity to grow and excel. Coach Broc's influence extended far beyond the field; he shaped us into better athletes and individuals.

Before his celebrated coaching career, Coach Broc was a standout player at Towson High and Washington College. His dedication to the sport and his passion for coaching have left an indelible mark on all of us who had the privilege of playing under his guidance. He not only taught us the fundamentals of lacrosse but also instilled in us the values of teamwork, perseverance, and sportsmanship.

One of my proudest moments was seeing my best friend, Tony Rossi, coach alongside him at Towson High. Tony always spoke highly of Coach Broc's mentorship and the incredible bond they shared while coaching together. Their collaboration was a testament to Coach Broc's ability to inspire not just players but fellow coaches as well.

The announcement of his induction has been met with widespread admiration and support from the community. Coach Broc's influence extends far beyond the wins and statistics; he has shaped the lives of countless players, helping us develop both on and off the field. His legacy is one of mentorship and leadership, and his contributions to the sport continue to inspire current and future generations.

Coach Broc’s induction into the Hall of Fame underscores his exceptional leadership and unwavering commitment to lacrosse. His achievements remind us of the lasting impact one dedicated coach can have on the lives of young athletes. Congratulations, Coach Broc, on this well-deserved honor! Your legacy will continue to inspire us all.

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A Team

Waukee doubleheader hosts mid-season checkpoint

Waukee and Waukee Northwest will face off in their doubleheader on Thursday. Holding the third and fourth spots in the CIML conference and only being separated by one game, a sweep by either team is very important for staying in the race at the top of the standings.

The Wolves have rebounded well from the 7-0 loss to the Warriors at the end of May, going 6-4 in their last 10 games. The key will be finding consistency in all phases of the game, being that three of the four losses have come by ten or more runs. Northwest will be relying on seniors Sam Johnson and Brady Walton to continue producing along with junior Tanner Jackson, who leads the team in home runs. The team will need to find consistency in the starting pitching staff and find at least one other starter to deliver consistent performances outside of Chuck Berdovich and Chris Peterson.

The Warriors were rolling with ten straight victories from late May into early June, but they have hit a rough patch recently losing four of their last six games. The bats seem to have reheated in the last three games scoring a total of 19 runs and they have a chance to kick off another streak against Dowling on Wednesday. With 5 players hitting over .300, Waukee certainly has the firepower to end the season on top.

Stay in the Zone for the results of this highly anticipated clash!

Photo Credited to: Instagram @ginniecolemanphotography

Marriott's Ridge Boys' Tennis

Marriott’s Ridge High School wrapped up their boys’ tennis season with a 5-0 win over Reservoir on May 1st.

The win sealed a perfect 10-0 campaign for the Mustangs, their second undefeated season in the last three years.

The Mustangs went undefeated in 2022, when the current seniors were sophomores. Last year, in 2023, the team dropped just two matches, both to River Hill.

Only losing two seniors going into the season, Head Coach Scott Dingman said the undefeated campaign wasn’t a shock.

“With how we played last year, with just the two losses, and knowing the personnel we had, I was cautiously optimistic we were going to have a solid season,” said Dingman.

When the time came to play River Hill in Clarksville on April 18th, Dingman knew his team was up to the test.

“We had to play the best to beat the best. Beating them solidified we were as good as I thought.”

In Howard County High School tennis, scores are compiled based on the results of two singles and three doubles matches, for a best of five in total.

After getting past River Hill 4-1, Marriott’s Ridge didn’t drop a single match for the rest of the season, ending the year on a 25-0 run to close out a dominant 2024 campaign.

Six of the eight starters this season were seniors, so replenishments are going to be necessary for the Mustang boys’ tennis program.

Dingman has been at the helm of the boys’ tennis program at Marriott’s Ridge since the school opened in 2005. He’s seen the program grow and develop into a steady contender over the years.

“Are we going to ride on the coattails of this season?” Dingman asked his underclassmen. “Or are we going to write a new chapter?”

Angel Reese: Inspiring the Next Generation of Basketball Talent

Angel Reese, a former player for the Team Takeover AAU program in Baltimore, has become an inspiration to young basketball players in the region. Even after achieving success at the college and professional levels, Reese has continued to support and mentor the players in her former AAU program. Reese's leadership, confidence, and style have made her a role model for the next generation of top talent from the Baltimore and D.C. area. She has contributed to increased interest in women's basketball at both the collegiate and professional levels.

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Photo: prospectsnation

The C. Markland Kelly High School Lacrosse Award 2024

High school sports transcend the boundaries of competition; they are about recognizing talent, dedication, and the relentless pursuit of excellence. For 75 years, the C. Markland Kelly High School Lacrosse Award has stood as a beacon of these values, celebrating the finest high school lacrosse players in Maryland.

The Kelly Award, annually bestowed upon the "Best High School Lacrosse Player in the State of Maryland," is a hallmark of distinction in high school sports. The Maryland State Lacrosse Coaches Association (MSLCA) oversees a meticulous selection process, ensuring that only the most outstanding players receive this honor. This year, the MSLCA proudly announces the divisional winners:

1A Division: Jacob McMillan, Attack, Fallston

2A Division: Tim Iannarino, Attack, Glenelg

3A Division: Trevor Phipps, Attack, South River

4A Division: T.J. Harne, Attack, Urbana

Private North: Brendan Millon, Attack, McDonogh

Private South: Anthony Panetti, Attack, Landon

The pinnacle of this year's awards is the overall C. Markland Kelly Award winner: Anthony Panetti, Attack, Landon. Anthony’s exceptional skills and leadership have set a new standard in high school lacrosse, epitomizing the spirit of the Kelly Award.

Recognition through awards like the Kelly Award is not just about celebrating individual achievements; it elevates the entire high school sports community. Such accolades inspire younger athletes to reach for greatness and underscore the quality of coaching and support within their schools. At its core, the Kelly Award highlights the importance of community in sports. When student-athletes like Anthony Panetti and Jacob McMillan are celebrated, it reflects the collective effort of coaches, athletic directors, and supportive peers who help them succeed. This sense of community is essential in nurturing future talent and fostering a supportive environment where young athletes can thrive.

For athletic directors, the success of their athletes and programs is a source of immense pride. Celebrating these achievements reinforces the value of their hard work and dedication. Platforms that facilitate such recognition play a crucial role in this ecosystem, ensuring that excellence is not only achieved but also celebrated widely.

As we honor the 2024 Kelly Award winners, we celebrate not just the players but the entire network of support that makes high school sports possible. This recognition drives home the message that dedication, teamwork, and community support are the cornerstones of success in high school athletics. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners of the 2024 C. Markland Kelly High School Lacrosse Award. Your achievements are a testament to the power of perseverance and community spirit. Here’s to many more years of excellence in high school lacrosse and the continued celebration of our young athletes' achievements.

Jim VanHorn

Joppatowne win 5-4 in 9 innings today. Ashley Merson pitched all 9 innings for the Mariners. Abby VanHorn led the charge for the Mariners offense with a pair of base hits.

Tips on Staying Cool for Summer Games

Staying cool and hydrated is crucial for teenage athletes playing sports in the summer sun. Here are some of the best tips:

Hydration Tips:

Pre-Hydrate: Start hydrating the day before the game. Drink plenty of water and include drinks with electrolytes.

Regular Water Breaks: Take frequent breaks to drink water, ideally every 15-20 minutes.

Electrolyte Drinks: Include sports drinks to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat, especially during long games or intense practice sessions.

Monitor Urine Color: Pale yellow urine indicates proper hydration, while dark yellow or amber can indicate dehydration.

Cooling Strategies:

Wear Light Clothing: Use lightweight, light-colored, and breathable fabrics to help the body stay cool.

Shade and Cool Areas: Spend time in shaded areas during breaks and use cooling towels or fans.

Spray Bottles: Use water sprayers or misting fans to cool down quickly.

Ice Packs: Apply ice packs to the neck, armpits, and groin areas to cool down fast.

Cool Showers: Take a cool shower or bath before and after games to help regulate body temperature.

Nutrition Tips:

Balanced Meals: Eat balanced meals that include plenty of fruits and vegetables, which have high water content.

Avoid Sugary Drinks: Limit the intake of sodas and sugary drinks as they can cause dehydration.

Small, Frequent Meals: Opt for smaller, frequent meals rather than large, heavy meals, which can make you feel sluggish and overheated.

Other Tips:

Acclimatize to Heat: Gradually get used to practicing in the heat to build up tolerance.

Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses: Be aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, such as dizziness, nausea, excessive sweating, and confusion, and seek immediate medical attention if these symptoms occur.

Rest: Ensure adequate rest and recovery time between games and practices to prevent overheating and exhaustion.

By following these tips, teenage athletes can stay cool, hydrated, and perform their best even in the summer heat.

-- Story and image enchanced with ChatGPT 4.0

Protecting the Future: The Essential Role of Middle School Athletics in Cecil County

Middle school athletics have always been more than just games and competitions; they are a cornerstone for student development, providing a crucial outlet and a sense of belonging during formative years. However, recent budget cuts threaten to undermine these programs, jeopardizing not only the sports but also the coaching positions that make them possible. In Cecil County, Maryland, the future of middle school and junior varsity sports hangs in the balance as funding decisions await the county government's approval.

Cecil County Public Schools (CCPS) currently benefit from a budget that fully supports athletic programs. This commitment underscores the importance placed on student athletics, recognizing the myriad benefits these programs offer. The continuation of this funding is now contingent on the county government's forthcoming decisions. It's a critical juncture that demands attention and advocacy from the community.

Since their introduction in 2018, middle school sports in Cecil County have grown significantly. Initially offering just three sports, the programs have expanded to include co-ed cross country, unified bocce, volleyball, and field hockey. This growth reflects a broader recognition of the value that diverse athletic opportunities bring to young students, preparing them for high school and beyond.

The positive impact of middle school sports is evident in success stories like that of Berlyn Griffin, who smoothly transitioned to high school athletics, equipped with essential skills and life lessons. These programs lay the foundation for fundamental athletic skills while teaching valuable life lessons long before students reach high school. This early engagement in sports fosters a sense of discipline, teamwork, and resilience that serves students throughout their lives.

Community members, including dedicated advocates like Allison Stoudt, are vocal about the need for continued funding for CCPS athletic programs. They understand that maintaining these programs is not just about sports; it’s about ensuring the holistic development and well-being of students. Stoudt and others emphasize that cutting these programs could have far-reaching negative effects on student development, competitiveness, and overall school spirit.

For students like the Rising Sun senior who fears the potential elimination of middle school sports, the stakes are high. They worry that without these programs, students may lose the opportunity to build long-term team cohesion and chemistry, essential for high school competitiveness. Playing together from a young age creates a strong foundation of trust and camaraderie that is difficult to replicate later.

Compared to neighboring Harford County, Cecil County offers fewer recreational sports opportunities. This disparity means that many students lack access to travel or recreation leagues, making school sports their primary outlet for physical activity and team engagement. For many, school sports are not just an option but a necessity for staying active and connected.

Middle school sports are vital for student development, promoting healthy habits, fostering friendships, and boosting confidence. The physical, mental, and emotional benefits of sports participation at this age are well-documented. Regular exercise, team interactions, and the challenges of competition help mold well-rounded individuals.

Research indicates that school sports can positively impact students' academic performance. Participation in athletics often correlates with better attendance, higher grades, and a more profound commitment to schoolwork. These benefits underscore the integral role that sports play in the educational experience.

Through sports, students learn to adapt, persevere, and build resilience in the face of challenges. These life lessons extend far beyond the playing field, influencing their overall confidence and ability to navigate life's hurdles. Coaches play a pivotal role in this development, serving as mentors and role models.

In Cecil County, students with failing grades are ineligible for interscholastic athletics, highlighting the link between academic performance and sports participation. This policy underscores the importance of balancing academics and athletics, promoting regular attendance, and fostering strong bonds among teammates.

Eliminating athletics could have detrimental effects on both academic performance and student behavior. The positive influence of sports on students’ lives extends to building meaningful relationships and fostering a sense of community. These programs are essential for encouraging academic success and personal growth.

From the perspective of middle school coaches, sports are indispensable for offering students a positive outlet and enhancing various aspects of their well-being. The confidence and social connections developed through sports participation benefit students not just in school, but throughout their lives.

As Cecil County faces critical budget decisions, it is imperative to recognize the indispensable value of middle school athletics. These programs are not mere extracurricular activities; they are vital for the comprehensive development of students, fostering physical health, academic success, and essential life skills. The community must advocate for the continued funding and support of these programs to ensure that future generations have the opportunities they deserve.

The CSZ Network has been grateful for the opportunity to cover Cecil middle school sports, witnessing firsthand the positive impact these programs have on students and the community. We wouldn't want to see such valuable programs go, and we stand with those advocating for their preservation. Let's ensure that our young athletes continue to have the opportunities to grow, compete, and succeed.

Severna Park Girls Soccer Team's Undefeated Season and State Championship Victory!

In a thrilling display of skill, determination, and teamwork, Severna Park High School's girls’ soccer team achieved an incredible milestone by completing an undefeated season and securing their first state championship title since 2003. This remarkable achievement marks a significant moment in the school's athletic history, bringing pride to the community and highlighting the talents of its young athletes.

The Severna Park Falcons embarked on their 2023-2024 season with high hopes and a renewed sense of purpose. Led by head coach Rick Stimpson, the team quickly demonstrated their prowess on the field. The Falcons set the tone early in the season with decisive victories over strong competitors, including a notable 2-1 triumph against their long-time rivals, Broadneck High School.

Throughout the season, the Falcons displayed their exceptional defensive strategies, allowing only three goals against them across 14 regular-season games, while their offensive lineup consistently found the back of the net, scoring 43 goals. Their dynamic midfield and solid backline coordination were key factors in their dominance this past season.

The Road to the Championship

Severna Park's path to the state championship was marked by several intense matches that tested their resilience and unity. The Falcons surpassed their opponents in the regional final and state semi-final, showing their discipline and tactical intelligence. Severna Park secured two solid wins, with standout performances from their defensive line. Successfully neutralizing their opponents’ key attackers, and their offensive squad, which capitalized on swift counterattacks leading them to the state championship.

The Championship Showdown

The state championship match was held at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex where Severna Park faced off against a team that had seen the championship field before, Mt. Hebron High School. The atmosphere was electric, with fans, alumni, and community members filling the stands to support the Falcons. From the first whistle, it was clear that Severna Park was ready to leave everything on the field. The team's cohesion and strategic play were evident as they controlled possession and pressed forward with relentless energy. Midway through the first half, Severna Park scored the opening goal with a beautifully executed shot from outside the box, igniting a wave of cheers from the Falcons’ faithful supporters.

Mt Hebron High School, known for their resilience, fought back fiercely, but Severna Park's defense, anchored by their devoted goalkeeper and vigilant defenders, held firm. In the second half, Severna Park sealed the victory with a powerful header off a corner kick, bringing the final score to 2-0.

Celebrating a Historic Achievement

As the final whistle blew, the Severna Park players, coaches, and fans erupted in celebration. The state championship trophy, a symbol of their hard work and dedication, was lifted high amidst joyous cheers and tears of happiness. Coach Stimpson and his team's unwavering commitment to each other was highlighted during the championship game and the collective effort that led to their success. The championship victory holds special significance for Severna Park, as it marks their first state title in girls' soccer since 2003. For the seniors, it was a perfect culmination of their high school careers, while for the younger players, it set a high standard for future seasons. The future looks bright for Severna Park girls' soccer. With a solid foundation and a culture of excellence, the team will remain a powerhouse in the years to come. As the community celebrates this historic achievement, the players will undoubtedly carry the lessons learned and the bonds formed into their future endeavors, both on and off the field. Severna Park's undefeated season and state championship win will be remembered as a testament to the power of teamwork, perseverance, and the unwavering support of a community united by a shared passion for the beautiful game.

Gilman’s Bennett Espenshade Seeks Continued Improvement As Top Junior Golfer

Ever since he first swung an oversized club as a 2-year-old, Bennett Espenshade has been fascinated by golf.

And his natural curiosity, combined with a strong desire to get better and the willingness to put in the work, turned the Gilman School senior into the top-ranked junior golfer in Maryland and one of the top 100 junior golfers in the world.

“Golf is so different than any other sport,” said Espenshade, who is ranked No. 94 in the Junior Golf Scoreboard (JGS) world rankings.

He most recently finished 23rd at the Dustin Johnson World Junior Championship on March 1-3 in Myrtle Beach and won the Middle Atlantic Amateur Championship last fall, a wire-to-wire win against a good field that Espenshade called one of his proudest moments as a golfer.

“You can play the same course every day of your life, and no round will ever be the same,” he said. “Perfection is impossible. There are so many things you can do [with golf] and so many different ways to play it. That has always just really intrigued me.”

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mike Wallace

Written by:Greg Swatek

Motion Scholar-Athletes

In the Ravens team locker room at M&T Bank Stadium, I couldn’t help but feel a swell of pride for the 18 young men and women honored at the 2024 Minds in Motion Scholar-Athlete Scholarship Luncheon. This event, hosted by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA), was more than just a celebration of academic and athletic excellence; it was a testament to the power of dedication, hard work, and community support.

In an era where headlines are often dominated by the exploits of professional athletes and the latest educational reforms, it’s easy to overlook the remarkable achievements happening in our own backyards. Yet here were 18 students, each one a shining example of what can be achieved with perseverance and passion. These scholar-athletes are the heart of our communities, balancing rigorous academic schedules with demanding sports commitments, and excelling in both arenas.

Guest speaker Jamie Sharper, a former Baltimore Ravens linebacker, perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the day. His message to the scholar-athletes about the importance of gratitude and mindfulness resonated deeply. Sharper’s three pillars of success serve as a valuable reminder that the qualities which define a champion on the field – discipline, resilience, and teamwork – are equally vital in every aspect of life.

Each introduction by the district representatives was a poignant reminder of the village it takes to raise such exceptional individuals. Principals, athletic directors, coaches, and family members all played a role in shaping these students into the accomplished young adults they are today. Their collective support and encouragement have not only nurtured athletic prowess but also fostered academic curiosity and achievement.

The Minds in Motion Scholar-Athlete program, now in its 17th year, has awarded over $235,000 in scholarships since its inception in 2008. This program stands as a beacon of what can be achieved when we invest in our youth. By requiring a minimum 3.25 unweighted GPA and participation in interscholastic sports, the MPSSAA ensures that these scholarships are awarded to those who truly embody the spirit of a scholar-athlete.

But beyond the financial support, the true value of this program lies in the recognition and validation it provides. For these students, being celebrated at such a prestigious event is an acknowledgment of their hard work and sacrifices. It’s a powerful motivator, not just for the recipients but for their peers who look up to them.

As we applaud Carter Brotherton, Ava Burgunder, Kincade Burroughs, Benjamin Caplan, Blake Carberry, Daniela Carrasco-Gonzalez, Aliyah Carroll, Iva Damyanova, Naima Fagon, Chloe Gaines, Gregory Hrica, Aryaman Kantawala, Molly Lang, Josh Lankford, Abby Richard, Abinash Subedi, Robert James Wood, and Nick Zampardi, we must also reflect on what their achievements represent. They are a testament to the strength of our educational and athletic programs and a reminder of the potential within every student.

In a world where the challenges facing our youth are ever-evolving, it’s crucial to celebrate and support programs like Minds in Motion. These initiatives not only recognize the achievements of our young people but also inspire them to reach greater heights. As a community, we must continue to champion and invest in our scholar-athletes, for they are the future leaders, innovators, and changemakers who will shape the world.

So, here’s to the 18 remarkable students honored today. May their stories inspire us all to strive for excellence and to support the next generation with the same fervor and commitment that has brought them to this momentous occasion.

2024 Minds in Motion Scholar-Athlete Recipients:

• Carter Brotherton, Great Mills

• Ava Burgunder, Pikesville

• Kincade Burroughs, North Point

• Benjamin Caplan, Baltimore City College

• Blake Carberry, North Harford

• Daniela Carrasco-Gonzalez, Stephen Decatur

• Aliyah Carroll, Forest Park

• Iva Damyanova, Mount Hebron

• Naima Fagon, Charles H. Flowers

• Chloe Gaines, Walkersville

• Gregory Hrica, Eastern Technical

• Aryaman Kantawala, Oakdale

• Molly Lang, James Hubert Blake

• Josh Lankford, Crisfield

• Abby Richard, Fallston

• Abinash Subedi, Northeast

• Robert James Wood, Laurel

• Nick Zampardi, Walter Johnson

Impact of Canadian Wildfires on Air Quality and Athletes: A Cautious Look at this Summer

As summer approaches, forecasts indicate the possibility of another severe wildfire season in Canada, raising concerns about air quality once again. Factors such as high temperatures, dry conditions, and intense winds are expected to contribute to the risk of wildfires. Consequently, athletes and coaches are bracing for the potential recurrence of last year's air quality issues. We must take last years' experience and take precautionary measures this summer for athletes. After interviewing, Anne McGinty, coach at Friends School of Baltimore. She provided clarity that she along with the rest of the athletic staff and health staff, including the athletic trainer and nurse at the school keep the athletic department up to speed on whether the air quality is safe or not for athletic teams to train or play matches. If not, coaches are to either cancel the team event or find an alternative way to train that does not put the school’s athletes at risk. Considering these concerns, coaches and athletic organizations are taking proactive steps to safeguard athletes' health. Here are some of the key measures being implemented:

Monitoring Air Quality: Coaches and athletic trainers are closely monitoring AQI levels using reliable sources like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local air quality monitoring stations. Real-time data helps in making informed decisions about whether to proceed with outdoor activities.

Adjusting Training Schedules: Training sessions are being scheduled during times when air quality is relatively better, such as early mornings or late evenings. On days with particularly poor air quality, outdoor activities are minimized or moved indoors if the indoor air quality is considered safe.

Indoor Training Facilities: Ensuring that indoor training facilities are equipped with proper air filtration systems to maintain a healthy indoor environment. This includes the use of High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that can effectively remove pollutants from the air.

Limiting Exposure: Athletes are being recommended to limit their exposure to outdoor air during high pollution periods. This includes wearing masks designed to filter out fine particulates and avoiding unnecessary outdoor activities.

Health Screenings: Regular health screenings and monitoring of athletes for symptoms of respiratory distress are being conducted. Athletes with pre-existing respiratory conditions are given special attention and, if necessary, are provided with individualized training plans. Some universities already do this. For example, my university provides our team with Catapults and heart rate monitors to screen our work ethic and heart rate while at practice and during games.

Hydration and Nutrition: Emphasizing the importance of proper hydration and nutrition to help the body combat the effects of poor air quality. Antioxidant-rich diets can help reduce inflammation and support respiratory health. This can be done with basic information packets from coaches, trainers, or if possible, a nutritionist.

Educational Programs: Conducting educational programs to inform athletes about the risks associated with poor air quality and the best practices to mitigate these risks. Awareness and preparedness are key to ensuring athletes take the necessary precautions.

The experience of last year's wildfires has underscored the vulnerability of athletes to environmental hazards like poor air quality. As we approach another summer with the potential for similar challenges, it is imperative that coaches, athletes, and athletic organizations remain vigilant and proactive. By implementing comprehensive precautionary measures, they can help mitigate the health risks and ensure that athletes remain safe and healthy while pursuing their sports aspirations. The resilience and adaptability shown by the athletic community in the face of these challenges serve as a testament to their commitment to health and excellence.