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07.10.12 Howard County Announces 2012 “Community Sports Hall of Fame” Induction Class

July 10, 2012

Media Contacts: Kevin Enright, Director, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022
Allan Harden, Department of Recreation & Parks, 410-313-4652

Howard County Announces 2012 “Community Sports Hall of Fame” Induction Class

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County’s Department of Recreation & Parks (DRP) is proud to announce its 2012 Community Sports Hall of Fame inductees. The Community Sports Hall of Fame honors outstanding individuals who have gained prominence and/or have made a substantial contribution to community recreational sports in Howard County. The induction ceremony will take place at the 10th annual “Celebration of Sports” on Tuesday, October 9, at 5:30 p.m., at the Turf Valley Resort & Conference Center. This year’s inductees were selected by an 11-member Hall of Fame Committee:

Lou Chillemi was a member of the Howard County Umpires Association and a softball umpire for two decades. He also served as a rules interpreter and clinician for the Golden Triangle Officials Association. In 1993, when he was asked to resurrect the organization that provided softball umpires for DRP’s adult slow pitch program, he founded the Howard County Officials, Inc. (HCO). Under his leadership, HCO membership increased and now also serves the Howard County Youth Program, the Elkridge Youth Organization and adult slow pitch leagues at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and in Woodbine.

When the County was struggling to provide enough recreation fields in the 1970s, Joe Friend stepped up to chair an ad hoc recreation committee to help lay the foundation for how County fields are maintained today. He served on the Howard County Recreation and Parks Advisory Board and Chaired the Board while it planned the recreational uses for Centennial Lake. In 1976, as President of the Soccer Association of Columbia (SAC), Joe was instrumental in SAC’s efforts to incorporate the growing organization as a non-profit and, for two years, he also chaired SAC’s Memorial Day Tournament, now known as the Columbia Invitational.

Dave Grabowski has been a fixture at Rockburn Park as a player, organizer and advocate for more than three decades. In 1978, he helped form the Elkridge Adult Athletic Association (EAAA) to organize softball leagues at Rockburn and served as Commissioner until 2005. He also coached, umpired and served as an administrator for the Elkridge Youth Organization (EYO); and, as president, grew the organization by more than 30% and adopted new approaches to recruiting and training parent coaches. In 2001, Dave was appointed to the Howard County Recreation and Parks Advisory Board and still serves today. While he was chair, the Board approved such projects as Blandair and Meadowbrook Park.

In 1980, Skip McAfee started playing in the informal, non-competitive Columbia Intra-Village Softball League and also served as a team manager. In 1993, with the League down to three teams, Skip stepped “up to the plate” to rejuvenate the League and recruited enough players and managers to put together four to five teams by the following spring. Today, thanks to Skip’s leadership, the League (now known as the Cindy LaRue Co-Rec Softball League) has 16 teams. At the age of 60, Skip joined the Howard County Reds in the Baltimore Beltway Senior Softball League and soon began umpiring and coordinating the umpire schedules before taking over as the League’s commissioner – a job he held for the next five years.

Gus Novotny opened the Rocky Gorge Golf Fairway in 1964 and business has boomed ever since. Gus has taught thousands of golfers how to perfect their swings, play the game, and is credited with driving range innovations to include heated and covered tees, the use of synthetic-turf hitting surfaces and the transformation of an old car into a driving range target. He also worked with General Electric to calculate the optimum placement of lights so golfers can still perfect their game at night. He added a miniature golf course, baseball and softball batting cages, and invented machines to pick up and sort the baseballs from the softballs and wash and dry them. He is considered an icon in the golf range and batting cage industry.

Norbert O’Donnell began raking and chalking fields and cutting grass at the 17-acre Kiwanis-Wallas Park in 1978 and made it his personal mission so kids would have a great place to play. At times, he spent 50+ hours a week, in addition to holding down a full-time job. He cut the fields late at night by the headlights of his tractor, filled potholes, laid sod, spread fertilizer, put up nets, mended fences and carefully prepared the baseball mounds. Sadly, in 1996, Norbert suddenly passed away. In his honor, the roadway that goes through the Park is known as Norbert’s Way.

Don Smith has been involved in the swimming community for 20+years, serving as a meet official and starter back in 1993 for the Columbia Neighborhood Swim League. Four years later, he took over as the League’s head official and for the past 15 years, he has trained starters and stroke and turn judges each summer. He has also been instrumental in writing and revising the League’s rules and regulations and has volunteered as a USA Swimming Official at meets sponsored by the Columbia Clippers and the Maryland Special Olympics Summer Games. Since 2003, he has served on the Maryland Swimming Board.

For tickets to the induction ceremony, which will be part of the Celebration of Sports on October 9, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/RAP, stop by Recreation & Parks Headquarters, 7120 Oakland Mills Road in Columbia, or call 410-313-7275.

The County’s “Community Sports Hall of Fame” is open to the public Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Recreation and Park Headquarters. To learn more about the Hall of Fame and its current members, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/halloffame.htm.