ELLICOTT CITY, MD – In honor of July’s National Parks and Recreation Month, Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks has revealed the names of the four newest inductees of the Howard County Community Sports Hall of Fame: Sharron Smith, Jim Long, Jack Burk and Allan Harden. Each year, the Community Sports Hall of Fame honors outstanding individuals for their commitment or notable contribution to community sports in Howard County.
The time, energy and dedication put forth by these four inductees is a testament to what makes Howard County’s sport community, programming, opportunities and facilities to strong and so great. I would like to thank these four individuals for their commitment to inspiring and improving the lives of our younger residents.
Sharron Smith has dedicated most of her life to the betterment of the community through track and field. In 1996, she began coaching an elite youth track team, offering youth and student athletes a place to grow and succeed. She helped may athletes achieve their dreams of competing in intercollegiate athletics, many of whom earned scholarships, affording them the opportunity to attend college. Sharron’s leadership through sports, combined with her 33 years with the Department of Juvenile Services, have allowed her to positively impact countless youth. Her goal has always been to positively steer youth towards accomplishing anything they strive to achieve.
“Coach Jim” has done it all. From player to coach (and later becoming an administrator and referee), Jim Long has had a positive impact on the sport of lacrosse. His time giving back to the community through the Howard County Lacrosse Program included “doing the dirty work” with a smile on his face. This included distributing and collecting equipment, grinding and painting goals in the off-season, changing out job box locks, lining fields, coaching, officiating, and countless other tasks. In addition to all this, Jim also created the Howard County Adaptive Lacrosse Program, a program which allows children with special needs to play the sport of lacrosse. The program has since expanded into Carroll County.
Jack Burk joined Special Olympics as a basketball coach in 2000. Over the course of his 23 years with Special Olympics Howard County, he has built multiple innovative programs. His ability to relate to athletes of all ability levels has made him an invaluable asset to the Special Olympics community. In addition to basketball, Jack also helped out as a golf coach from 2001 to 2007. To ensure Howard County representation at the Special Olympics Maryland level, Jack served on the golf and basketball development teams. Jack also champions for the incorporation of student volunteers into working with Special Olympics athletes. When his daughter Jackie died in 2004, the family honored her memory by establishing a scholarship fund in her name to honor these outstanding student volunteers. As of 2023, through the generous donations of family and friends, the Jackie Burk Memorial Scholarship has provided financial assistance of more than $31,000 to 22 outstanding Special Olympic student volunteers who embody Jackie’s spirit of volunteering with Special Olympics athletes.
Allan Harden was a true original in the field of Recreation and Parks. Hired in 1977 as the first Sports Coordinator for the County’s Department of Recreation & Parks, Allan built the program from the ground up and all with not budget. He developed strong relationships with community groups and developed staff to bring sports countywide. Allan’s business acumen allowed the sports division to flourish even in times of economic downturn. Allan was a strong advocate for expanding facilities and fields to provide more opportunities for residents to play. His diverse knowledge of sports rules and regulations, passion for fairness and win-win philosophy made him highly regarded amongst his peers. As President of the Mid-Atlantic Recreation and Parks Sports Alliance, he developed the Good Sports Awards. He created the first Celebration of Sports and in fact, the Howard County Community Sports Hall of Fame. Allan’s legacy continues through the people he touched and the programs he built and supported. After 45 years of public service, he retired from the County in June 2022 as Superintendent of the Sports & Adventure Services Division. Sadly, Allan passed away in June 2023, leaving behind an immeasurable impact on Howard County sports.
“Because of dedicated coaches, volunteers and community leaders, this county continues to offer first-class sports leagues and classes,” said Howard County Recreation & Parks Bureau Chief Nicola Morgal. “While many of our inductees over the years had full-time jobs in addition to working with the department; their joy in helping others and their love of sports had them helping the next generation of athletes on nights and weekends. They are truly inspirational leaders.”
The induction ceremony will take place at the 19th annual Celebration of Sports on Tuesday, October 17th at the Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center. Tickets are $49 per person or $490 for a table of 10 people. To RSVP or to purchase tickets, please call 410-313-4706 or email [email protected].
To learn more about the Community Sports Hall of Fame, visit www.hcrpsports.org/halloffame.