The First Thirty Years
written by Dick Russel
The origin of Arden Recreation goes back to the Arden Civic Association meeting of March 21, 1969. The minutes of that meeting include the following: "Mr. Trask requested information about the possibility of a Little League team for the community. He agreed to serve as chairman of a committee to investigate this idea. He will be assisted by Mr. Dean as co-chairman, and Mr. Russell, Mr. Sparhawk and Mrs. Couch." And so, seeded with $200 from the ACA, Arden Recreation was born from an interest by Don Trask.
The April 1969 issue of the NEWSBUOY announced the planning stages for an Arden sports program and that boys and parents with the desire to participate should contact Dick Russell or Skip Dean. This was the first of many player registrations to follow.
That first year was a bit rough, literally. At least half of every practice was dedicated to raking furrows from the field (now field #1) to provide a place to play. Jimmy Goode, with his front loader, helped carve out a diamond from a spot which two years prior had been farmed to put potatoes on the table at the Crownsville State Hospital. By 1969, the area was leased by a local farmer who was gracious enough to allow the use of one corner. Over the years, the farmers have allowed us to expand to provide for an ever growing program. In stages, AA county eventually leased or purchased the Arden Rec baseball fields from the state hospital.
Even though it was a surprise to the founders, April was too late to start planning for the baseball season. Since the county teams were already formed, the ’69 season for Arden was one of practice only (along with raking). All ages were mixed together with a total participation of about twenty or thirty youth and adults. With an early player registration in 1970 and a promise that the age group with the largest registration would play in the county league, the presence of Arden Rec in county play began.
With sponsorship from local businesses such as Coale’s American, Meade’s Old Hickory, Jerman’s IGA and Dorr’s Texaco, an 8-10 year old boys baseball team, coached by Dick Francis entered into county competition. Yes, it was one of those long seasons with not much in the win column but everyone who was involved was thrilled with the beginning. Players wearing gray flannel uniforms and names like Sonny Dean, Pat Irwin, Charlie Kronquist, Robert Munoz, Paul Selkman, Stephen and Rob Tilghman, Tim and Terry Trask, Dean Francis, Dan Mule and Eddie Wojciechowski had started a tradition.
Spurred by the reality that Arden could really field a team, 1971 saw three teams, 8-10, 10-12 and 12-14 year olds playing county baseball and one instructional clinic team. With insufficient space at field #1 for all those teams, Eldin and Norma Niles allowed the use of some of their vacant lots on Omar Rd. for the clinic program. Names such as Philip Logan, Robert and Michael Walz, Matt Chambers, Allen Ballentine, Merl Arbogast, Ricky Grape, Todd and Troy Ripley, Peter Mule, Lloyd Butts and Jerry Tolodziecki were beginning to appear.
Not to be left out, the girls jumped into the program with the first softball team in 1972. It also became obvious that we were beginning to understand the rules of the game as the first protest was filed by an 8-10 team. Baseball had grown to include two 8-10 teams as well as the 10-12, 12-14 and clinic. Arden Rec brought in heavy equipment and graded out two more fields (now #2 and #3). Clinic was still held on Omar Rd. Sponsors were still the major source of income with Odenton Shopping Center, Chris Coile Reality, Village Reality and Evergreen Gene’s adding to the list as our equipment requirements were growing and being met by Bart’s Sporting Goods. Rick Irwin, Charlie Russell, Steven Fleck, Charlie Jubb, Paul Gancarz, Jay Shipley, Jim Kronquist, Paul Wojciechowski and Ricky Dean were making their first appearances as Arden athletes.
With growth, now a normal part of Arden Rec, 1973 saw six baseball teams and, pushed by Nellie Kilpatrick, four softball teams. Fortunately, field #4 was graded for use by two clinics which now also included a softball clinic. In comparison with today's expenses, consider Dick Francis' (then chairman of Arden Rec) letter to parents explaining a $10 registration fee with $5 of that being a refundable uniform deposit. Those sponsors of individual players were still helping out and were joined by other businesses such as Russell Smith Plumbing, Arden Contracting, Crownsville Gulf and Gauss Plumbing and Heating. Some of the new player names were Karen Selckman, Clare Shipley, Christine and Anna Munoz, Julie High, Linda Schreffler, Ed Chapman, Kevin and Marty Taffee, Mike Kozlowski, Brent Eldridge, Scott Brunstrom, Tim Stroh, David Wojciechowski, Ronnie Dove, Richard Rothermel and Clint Yost.
Very early in 1974, with cold fields and chilly winds, Jake Bahner fielded the first Arden soccer team of older boys. They played in a cold Baltimore city outdoor winter league. Unfortunately, due to illness in Jake's family, he was unable to return the following year. Arden would have to wait a couple more years for a rebirth of soccer. Another first for the year was the formation of a youth bowling league started by R. J. Jubb which met on Saturday mornings at the lanes on route 170 in Odenton. This was also the year for the introduction of basketball. Using Millersville elementary school for practices, four boys teams, ranging from 8 to 16 year olds began Arden's interest in basketball. The men of the community also formed a small informal "pick-up" league. With finances needing a boost, Barb Russell and Nancy Lupton began running a monthly bingo game which would operate for two years. Thanks to Ken Davis and Liz Tolodziecki, the spring Arden Rec carnival at the ballfield was also born in '74. These carnivals would become an annual event until 1982. Girls softball grew to four teams and a clinic along with the women's team. The men formed an informal softball league with each section of Arden having its own team. Sampling new experiences, an 8-10 baseball team played within the Greater Glen Burnie (GGB) sports league. The 14-16 baseball team was playing tournament ball in Bowie and the county bacon was brought home for the first time. The 10-12 baseball team, coached by Dave Lupton was AA county champ while Jerry Tolodziecki's 8-10 team was county runner-up. In all, there were seven baseball teams including two in community leagues and a clinic team. In this busy year, new players joining their friends included Ted Herrell, Jeffrey Smyers, Duane Merkel, Richard Bevins, Carolyn and Gail Roberson, Janet Selckman, Tammy Trask, Kelcey Jubb, Chip and Bill Lupton and Suzanne Dame.
1975 was prettyuch a "carry-on" year with five baseball teams, three men's, a women's and three girl's softball teams along with a baseball and softball clinic and three basketball teams. The big news of the year was the initiation of "pizza night" by Jim Parsons. This monthly event would be carried on for about ten years by Mary Stroh, Geri Wojciechowski and Judith Tushoph. This allowed the kitchens of Arden to rest at least once a month (more often for those who stocked their freezers) and funded a lot of youthful activity. This was also the year of Arden Rec's first 50/50 raffle. Team rosters included Sharon Irwin, Kristie Covington, Patti Johnson, Kurt Spiess, Mike Babin, Frank Moritz, Kim Tolodziecki, Jim Alsup, Robert and Kathy Bartholomew.
America's 200th birthday year, 1976, was the beginning for two long standing activities within Arden Rec. First, Rhett Wojciechowski appeared with the "Snack Truck". The truck, a landmark at the athletic fields, consumed many hours for many volunteers and provided a steady source of income for thirteen years. It has since been replaced by the permanent brick and mortar snack bar. Secondly, with Ted Herrell leading the effort, soccer became a permanent part of Arden Recreation. It was Andy Platner, whose dog bit through a soccer ball. The following week when Andy replaced the ball, he was assigned as the coach of the 11 and under team which included one girl. Ted coached the 13 year old team which in this first year won their division championship and thus started a new force within AA County soccer. The men's softball team played the WCAO radio team as part of the annual carnival and the youth fielded five baseball, a clinic, two girl's softball, four basketball teams and the bowling league continued. A few of this year's players were Clint Lysher, Scott Stroh, Mike Pitts, Trevis Miller, Shelly Herrell and Kathy Stroh.
Soccer grew to four teams in 1977 as the sport gained in popularity. Players and spectators joined in a bus ride to the Capital Center to see the U.S. play the PRC. Baseball fielded five teams and a clinic while there were two girls and a women's softball team. The basketball program consisted of two teams. Players getting into the action included Joe Bellotte, Heather Fields, Anne Serio, Patty Otten, Lou Naylor and John Langley.
Once again in 1978, the enthusiasm of soccer could not wait for the fall season. A hearty team attempted an AA County winter league but met with mostly snowed out games. Five teams played in the regular fall season. Boys and girls continued to play together on the younger teams while Joel Susano coached the first all girls team in the 14-17 bracket. This was also the year in which two teams first represented Arden Rec in the annual Linthicum - Ferndale soccer tournament. Five baseball, a clinic, a women's and two girl's softball teams took to the fields in '78. Basketball grew to four teams. Among the new and returning athletes were Melanie Russell, Jan Lundstrom Andrea Dushaw, Craig Curtin, Marty Shacochis, Robbie Jenkins and Michelle Merkel.
Winter soccer opened another year of activity in 1979 with Rhett Wojciechowski and Ted Herrell taking teams to Latrob field in the Baltimore City league. Men's softball, whose pick-up games had mostly disappeared, was ready for a boost which was provided by Bob Yurwitz. He organized a team which would play a regular schedule within the county. Men's softball, joining with the already established women's softball, was on its way to becoming a permanent attraction at the ballfields. On the down side, this was the last year of the youth bowling league. In youth play, five baseball teams, a clinic and two softball teams represented Arden Rec. Fall soccer had six teams and basketball had four. Julie Rhodes, Ray Gill, Kenny Fink, Matt Summers, Jon Clayton, Jason Lowe, Renaldo Johnson and Jim Yurwitz are just a few of the player names to be remembered.
Moving into the '80s, the basketball program put five teams on the court with three of these participating in Christmas tournaments in Lothian. The spring and summer season was a very hectic one because of field reconstruction work by the county. Two men's and a women's softball team, six baseball and three girl's softball teams had to find temporary facilities. Fields at Waterbury, Arundel High, Millersville and South Shore elementary schools were homes away from home. Plans were begun for the erection of lights which would extend soccer practice time (soccer fields overlaid the baseball and softball fields at this time) and would allow for night softball. This project was begun by burying the electrical wiring before the grading work began. The leasing farmer once again came to the rescue and allowed temporary use of more field space for six fall soccer teams to play their season. This new space eventually became permanent so that soccer fields no longer needed to be overlaid on the baseball-softball fields. This, therefore also allowed field #1 to be used for fall softball. Heidi Elles, Paula Bauer, Kristen Johnson, Tracey Brown, Steve Barger and Jimmy Greer joined other teammates for the season.
Basketball in 1981 saw the 10-12 and 12-14 girls take to the court and so another Arden Rec program began. The boys presented seven teams. Winter soccer played their last season with a 16 year and a 19 year old team. Spring brought out five baseball teams, four girl's, a women's and two men's softball teams. This was also the time when Teddy Herrell began organizing annual adult softball tournaments hosted by, and for the profit of Arden Rec. Seven teams were fielded for the fall soccer season. Some of those participating were Missie Klasmeir, Kara Knode, Mark Antal, Nancy and Richard Franklin and Billy Wojciechowski.
1982 started with a peak in the basketball program. Eight boy's teams and three girl's teams represented Arden Rec in county play. Soccer expanded into a spring season with five teams and maintained a seven team field in the fall while still sending teams to the Linthicum tournaments. Baseball was also bursting at the seams. A new approach was taken to satisfy the needs of more players. While four teams, one in each age bracket, were kept to represent Arden Rec in county competition, a new community league was formed. This was a four team intramural program for ages 8 through 10. The girl's softball program also leaped ahead to include six teams. With an eye toward improved field maintenance, a used International tractor-mower was purchsed and used until August of 1993, being overhauled in 1988. This was the first year of the candy bar sales with Mary Stroh leading the effort to bring in those much needed funds. Among the many athletes were Fred and Andy Rosewag Kelly Tracy, Will Lawrence and Neil Parrott.
In 1983, the girls 12-14 basketball team, under coach Dick Russell, brought home a second place county trophy, the first county award for girl's basketball. It was this year that the 12-14 boy's basketball team under coach Rich Antal were champs of their division. Along with two girl's soccer teams, the boys fielded five teams in basketball as well as in spring and fall soccer. Mac McCandless started taking soccer teams to the Ft. Meade tournaments. Baseball fielded a county team in each of the four age brackets plus a clinic while the community league program expanded to six teams. Girl's softball had five teams and the adult program added a men's team in the "over 35" bracket. Lights were mounted on the poles at field #1 and night softball became a reality at the Arden Rec field. Team rosters for this year included Jim and Lorri Pasden, John Murphy and Kristin Brunstrom.
Leading into the next five years, 1984 saw Arden Rec supporting one girl's and three boy's basketball teams, two spring soccer teams, five boy's and a girl's fall soccer team, four county and five community baseball teams, a clinic and six girl's county softball teams. The girl's 10-12 softball introduced the girls to tournament play at Lake Shore.
Since that time, the adult programs have become separately funded but still coordinate closely with the youth programs. Spring soccer became inactive but reappeared for the girls in '89. Funding continued to come from candy sales, adult softball tournaments and a new support for dances. A greater sense of formal organization was appropriately put into place .
The ‘90’S saw Arden start a wrestling program and boys and girls Lacrosse programs.With clinic,intramurals and county travel teams in all programs, Arden fields 40 to 50 teams in each fall or spring season. Two more light poles were added on field #2 in 1997 by Jeff Levy, John Murphy and Art Saumenig.
Arden Park is currently undergoing a renovation: renewing fencing , lighting and play grounds. These projects are made possible by the guidance of Jeff Levy , President of Arden Rec. and the Anne Arundel co. Parks and Rec. Dept.
Although the first teams were predominately filled with Arden youth, neighboring communities have long helped swell the ranks with players and coaches. Without this broad base, many programs would have failed due to insufficient numbers. Participants from the Generals Highway area, Crownsville, Waterbury, Herald Harbor, Palisades, Rolling Knolls, Gambrills, Indian Landing, Annapolis , Millersville and Arden have built what we know of as Arden Recreation. As time passes, a greater awareness of service to the whole mid-Arundel area is being enthusiastically approached.
In general, Arden Recreation is in a very healthy state as it passed its thirty year anniversary.
It has been particularly encouraging to see players such as Terry Trask, Allen Ballentine, David Wojcieclowski, Mike Koslowski, Charlie Russell, Sonny and Melanie Dean, John Murphy, Art Saumenig, Janet Selckman and Lorri Pasden return as adults to coach upcoming youngsters. Thanks to many volunteers and the joyful participation of many youth, the programs have enhanced our quality of life and provide a strong basis on which to build the future.
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