Youth and Amateur Sports takes Center Stage at Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit

40th Edition of Conference features All-Star Sport Tourism Panel

From left to right: Kevin Smith, Matt Libber, Terry Hasseltine, Neelay Bhatt, Al Kidd, Kris Smith at the 2021 Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit at Maryland Live! Event Center at Arundel Mills

(HANOVER, Maryland) — The 40th anniversary of the Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit was “One for the books!” declared Ruth Toomey, Executive Director of the Maryland Tourism Coalition. The MTC operates the perennial celebration of hospitality and tourism in the state. Representatives and sponsors from across Maryland gathered in Hanover inside the state-of-the-art Event Center at Maryland Live! Casino for a three-day summit, November 8th through 10th, to celebrate Destination Marketing Organizations, Convention and Visitor Bureaus, hotel operators, restaurateurs, and other organizations that work closely with, or work to enhance, the tourism industry across Maryland. The summit included an opening ceremony at Laurel Race Park and was hosted by TEAM Maryland partner Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County.

“It’s always great meeting new people and getting to have one-on-one time with the speakers,” said Toomey, who planned the event, and echoed nearly all of the attendees – many of whom hadn’t seen one another in-person since the 2019 MTTS at Rocky Gap Resort in Allegany County. “While tourism numbers are up, we are not (fully) recovered. We will have a long road ahead of us,” said Toomey, who took home the “2021 Tourism Person of the Year” honor during the event’s closing ceremonies.

Ruth Toomey (second from right) named 2021 “Tourism Person of the Year”

The Maryland Sports Commission, which has a longstanding partnership with the MTC – and is a multi-year sponsor of the summit – hosted this year’s main panel discussion on Tuesday afternoon. The topic focused on youth and amatuer sport tourism and the positive impact this particular sector of the industry has on local communities and the state as a whole.

Youth and amateur sports continue to prove itself as a near ‘recession-proof’ section of the tourism market,” said Terry Hasseltine, Executive Director of the Maryland Sports Commission. Hasseltine, who admits having serious concerns about the impact that COVID closures and cancellations would have on the industry beginning in early 2020, said that he saw community members working with local governments and event organizers to find ways to make sports happen during the pandemic, “Obviously we were impacted like every other sector of the tourism and hospitality industry. But one of the first things we saw come back online was amateur and professional sports. We saw more people going outside and participating in active, outdoor sports and Event Rights Holders took notice of this and began looking for ways to return to competition spaces in a safe and socially responsible manner.”

Continue reading

Howard County Welcomes Major League Quidditch Championships next week

Three-Day Event in Elkridge to include battle for coveted “Benepe Cup” and first ever Gender-Diversity Showcase

Photo Courtesy of Major League Quidditch/ Visit Howard County

“He missed Hogwarts so much it was like having a constant stomach ache. He missed the castle, with its secret passageways and ghosts, his classes, … and especially, Quidditch, the most popular sport in the wizarding world.” – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

(ELKRIDGE, Maryland) — From the “Wizarding World” of fictional childhood protagonist, Harry Potter, to real life college campuses and highlights on SportsCenter, the sport of Quidditch has grown into a nationwide phenomenon, soaring straight from the pages of J.K. Rowling’s epic tale, into the hearts of Muggles from every age and background.

“I was fascinated by the actual playing of the game, (especially) when the players don’t fly on broomsticks. But when I went to see them play (at the 2018 US Quidditch Mid-Atlantic Regional at Troy Park) I thought that it was fun, that it was unique, and in a lot of ways it was as magical as I imagined,” said Steve Wecker, a local small business owner in Howard County.

Wecker is no stranger to bringing make-believe to life. His restaurant, Mutiny Pirate Bar and Island Grille, caters to the wannabe buccaneer in all of us, just as the name suggests. And his location in Howard County, just walking distance from Troy Park in Elkridge, will serve as the official MLQ partner for dining for the upcoming Major League Quidditch Championships next week.

“I’m extremely excited that we are getting a second chance to bring MLQ to Howard County. The county has been incredibly welcoming to us in every way,” said MLQ Commissioner Ethan Sturm in a statement. “Every last detail of the Troy Park complex, from the press boxes to the support structures, was so carefully designed that I know we will be able to run our most successful championship yet. I cannot wait for our players, fans and staff to come and experience everything Howard County has to offer.”

Photo Courtesy of Major League Quidditch/ Visit Howard County

In 2018, TEAM Maryland partner, Visit Howard County, worked with the Maryland Sports Commission to secure U.S. Quidditch’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships with the help of the Maryland Sports Youth and Amateur Sports Grant.

“The process provided an opportunity that Visit Howard County has rarely been able to capitalize on, bidding for the rights to host a regional Collegiate event. The County embraced this unique opportunity with banners by the entrance of the park, restaurant specials to mimic the Harry Potter theme, and a youth training program before the games began that weekend,” said Eric Teisch of Visit Howard County.

The community around Troy Park has bought into the process of hosting large-scale competitions for Quidditch. In 2018, Howard County Public Schools allowed for flyers to be placed in fourteen of their closest school buildings to help with engaging the local community leading up to that event. Although many schools in Maryland will not open until after the Labor Day, Teisch said the anticipation of MLQ Championship Weekend is palpable, “This community (has really) embraced this up-and-coming sport, and we’re ecstatic that we were able to find a way to still host it.”

Photo Courtesy of Major League Quidditch/ Visit Howard County

Teisch said the relationship between Visit Howard County and MLQ started after the organization participated in the US Quidditch weekend in 2018 and were impressed by the overall execution of that event, “They loved the facilities, community partnership, and how Howard County embraces diversity and equality, and they recommended that Visit Howard County submit a bid to host the 2020 Major League Quidditch Championship.”

Of course, like so many other events scheduled for 2020, COVID-19 had other plans in mind.

“Unfortunately we were unable to hold the event due to COVID. That did not slow down our attempt to maintain that relationship with Major League Quidditch. We were fortunate enough to mutually agree on postponing until 2021 and are excited for the opportunity that Howard County will host the 2021 Major League Championship August 21 through the 23rd,” said Teisch.

While the event was postponed for a year, not all was lost. The pandemic closures allowed for both Visit Howard County and MLQ to rethink operations and ways to allow for the event to become more innovative. Championship Weekend will allow Howard County to showcase a number of new amenities in the community including new restaurants, attractions, recent hotel renovations, and – most importantly – a newly completed fourth field at Troy Park. MLQ has also added an extra day of competition to extend their stay in Howard County, “This partnership has worked smoothly from the beginning and Visit Howard County thanks Maryland Sports Commission for their commitment to their partners,” said Teisch.

On its website, MLQ defines Quidditch as, “a mixed-gender, full-contact sport created in 2005 by students at Middlebury College in Vermont. It has grown from a backyard game to an international sport played by over 400 college, club, national and semi-professional teams across six continents.” The MLQ is a national organization that operates between June 1 and July 31 annually, with competition taking place through August 30, when you consider the postseason and championship.

The league is made up of 15 teams from the United States and Canada, divided into three divisions geographically – North, South, and East – with five teams per division. The ultimate goal is for one team to walk away with the highly coveted Benepe Cup.

Photo Courtesy of Major League Quidditch/ Visit Howard County

This year’s championship showdown will take place on Sunday August 22nd, with an additional day added on Monday the 23rd for the first-of-its-kind “Take Back the Pitch: A Tournament to Showcase Gender Diverse Athletes”. According to MLQ, Take Back the Pitch is,

“A showcase that challenges the current understanding of gender in Quidditch and opens opportunities for gender diverse athletes to play quidditch out from under the scrutiny of misogyny, transmisogyny and misdirected misogyny. Through The Gender Diversity Initiative, MLQ seeks to address the very real ramifications of sexism and transphobia for cis and trans women, non-binary folk and trans men”.

“Quidditch is an example of the type of explosion we’ve seen in regards to new sport creation in the sport tourism industry, just in the time that I’ve been in the industry,” said Terry Hasseltine, Executive Director of the Maryland Sports Commission. “Two decades ago, Quidditch was a fictional game, confined to the pages and screen of the Harry Potter franchise and the minds of its fans. Now, in 2021, Quidditch is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. Not just that, it’s one of the most inclusive sports out there – where individuals have a space for themselves within the world of sports. That’s one of the things that matters to us the most here at Maryland Sports, inclusivity and building opportunity and equity in the sports we represent within our industry, and here in our State.”

For community members, and local business owners like Wecker, the opportunity is one that has the potential to have significant economic impact for their companies, while also fulfilling some of their innermost, childhood dreams,

“The game is highly contested, and the ‘Golden Snitch’ is still the ultimate prize. But maybe more so, is the fact that fans get to live out one of the great creations of all time, if they just believe. Let the games begin!”


What: 2021 Major League Quidditch Championships

When: August 21 to 23, 2021

Where: Troy Park, Elkridge, Maryland


Schedule of Events:

More information:

The Year that Wasn’t: TEAM Maryland partners discuss 2020 and their ‘Hope’ for 2021

“I am most looking forward to having the Hope of sports and group events returning in 2021”

Mayor’s Cup Pickleball Tournament Participants, Annapolis
(Photo: Visit Annapolis Instagram)

One year ago this week, representatives from tourism organizations across the state gathered in the mountains of Western Maryland, to celebrate the 39th Annual Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit at Rocky Gap Resort in Allegany County. It was a particularly exciting event for the Maryland Sports Commission, as our Executive Director Terry Hasseltine was honored with the Maryland Association of Destination Marketing Organizations Partner of the Year Award. It was a rare opportunity to catch up with some of our TEAM Maryland partners all in one place, while also networking with individuals outside of the sport tourism industry – whose organizations can serve as incredible partners as we promote communities and towns to Events Rights Holders and National Governing Bodies.

Looking back on the event, there is one particular moment which now stands in stark contrast to those three days of festive celebration. Attendees were able to sit in on a presentation by esteemed economist, Anirban Basu, Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group and host of “The Morning Economic Report” on WYPR radio in Baltimore. Basu warned that the economy – with its exorbitant and sustained levels of growth in the years following the Great Recession, combined with low unemployment rates nationally – was bound to come to a halt. Going on past indicators, some sort of slowdown was inevitable, as economic trends and history showed that such rapid growth was bound to come to an end. As Basu asserted, it was just a matter of what would be the cause of that slow down, when it would happen, and how much of an impact it would have on the overall economy.

Anirban Basu
(Photo: Maryland Tourism Council Facebook)

Looking back on such a dire prediction – which might have felt a little out of place for the setting – now feels like an ominous warning, although no one – including Basu himself – could have predicted what would happen in the months that followed.

Tourism, sport tourism specifically, has always managed to find a way to remain afloat during economic uncertainty and fluctuating markets. “Throughout the Great Recession of the early 2010s, sport tourism was one of the few industries that remained strong, and even saw tremendous growth in some markets,” said Terry Hasseltine of Maryland Sports. “Generally, when times are tough, parents want to give their children a sense of normalcy and that can be done through sports. And I think that’s what made this whole scenario so complex – not just the disruption of normalcy and the inconveniences that have come with it, but the catastrophic loss of so many loved ones, and the impact that has had on families and communities in our state, in our country, and across the globe,” Hasseltine added.

Continue reading

Our New Normal: How Maryland Sports and TEAM Maryland Partners are Adjusting during COVID-19

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Ahalt, Visit Hagerstown

“Big challenges are managing work and the online schooling for my daughter….  Trying to set aside time for both while still being productive and getting everything accomplished.”

– Kelly Rados, Worcester County Recreation and Parks

Could any of us have imagined, one year ago, that we would be in the position that we are today? For Events Rights Holders, sport tourism representatives and DMO’s across the state of Maryland, this time of year is usually one of detailed planning and excitedly preparing for what has become the busiest time of the year for our respective organizations. The familiar stresses of hosting large scale sporting events would be a welcomed anxiety as all of us now are trying to define our “New Normal” in the midst of a global pandemic.

Recently, we reached out to a number of our TEAM Maryland partners to get their thoughts on a range of topics. We discussed everything from their new daily rituals to the shows they’re watching, their thoughts on navigating these unprecedented times and what they think the sport tourism industry will look like post COVID-19:

Eric Teisch, Visit Howard County

Are there any challenges you’re facing with the work-life balance? How are you adjusting?

I have had jobs previously that did not value work-life balance. That is one of the reasons I ended up in the tourism industry. Work-life balance has never been put to test more than it is now. My wife is a Special Education teacher in Montgomery County and we have three kids under the age of 6, including a 5 month old. It certainly has been challenging for us both to keep up with work on the computer, while helping our 6 year old on the computer for his school work, a baby who runs by her own schedule and a 3 year old who doesn’t have a care in the world but (still) wants someone to pay attention to him. To best adjust for this, we have really been sticking to creating a school schedule each day. My wife and I build in our own time for when we have meetings and then we schedule lunch, recess, and we go for an afternoon walk at the end of the day to decompress and get fresh air. Not sure what we would do if this was during winter and we couldn’t go outside. Although we have a schedule down, it is still stressful depending on what type of day the kids are having. The saving grace is that they are still young to understand what is going on and more importantly, we are altogether and healthy.

What are some of the challenges you foresee moving forward for the industry even after we start getting back to normal? What are you doing to prepare?

The biggest challenge will be money. Clearly with the economy and the astronomical amount of lost jobs, youth sports are going to decrease in participation. The challenge from a destination perspective is that the Right Holders are going to value their bid fees even more than before to survive. However, destinations are planning for their budgets to be decreased by at least 50% for the upcoming fiscal year. For a smaller destination like ours, who can barely bid on events as it is, it will be practically impossible for at least the first year back. To prepare, I have maintained communication with our Recreation and Parks team and I believe we need to dig deep into the grassroots. We have great fields for lacrosse and I believe those tournaments that can still bring teams in, including the high school showcases, will get our name out there and will hopefully bring the sports tourism industry back faster than anticipated.

Is there anything you’re doing during the quarantine that you didn’t do before or something you hope to continue to do once it ends?

My family goes on walks everyday. I would like to continue that after everything ends as well. Another thing is really paying attention to how my kids are learning. Although it has been forced on us, I am thankful that I get the opportunity to see my oldest son in a learning about the environment and that his younger brother is interested in what he is doing as he will be getting ready for preschool as well. I have also used the weekends to catch up on some sleep. Normally we run around on the weekends with birthday parties or sports but now my wife and I have time to take turns to recharge. This has actually made the beginning of the week more enjoyable as we are well rested. Lastly, I have been picking one day of the week to work with my kids on their sports skills. My oldest was due to begin lacrosse for the first time and my middle child was going to take an intro to sports class. I want to keep them as active as I can and make sure they do not lose the love of sports like I have.

What shows are you watching (TV/ Streaming, Movies, Documentaries)

My wife watched the Tiger King so I caught most of it. Personally, I don’t understand the excitement/craze over it. Felt it was a waste of my time. We also started watching the Ozark. I took interest in the Aaron Hernandez documentary on Netflix. I went to UConn at the same time his brother was there and knew a majority of the story. That is really about it… My wife and I are usually exhausted at the end of the day and try to go to bed early as we are bound to be woken up in the middle of the night.

Kelly Rados, Worcester County Recreation and Parks

How has your day changed from normal operations? 

We are closed to the public so I’ve been working from home for parts of the week and going in other parts of the week. 

What are some of the strategies you’re using to adjust to your new schedule/ working conditions? 

Even if I’m working from home, I still get up early, get dressed and begin my day as if I was in the office. I like schedules and routines so this seems to help.  I also have daily conference calls with our entire staff, it helps with communication, and keeps spirits up.

What are/ are there any challenges you’re facing with the work-life balance? How are you adjusting? 

Big challenges are managing work and the online schooling for my daughter.  Trying to set aside time for both while still being productive and getting everything accomplished.  Still adjusting and trying to find our routine.

What are some of the challenges you foresee moving forward for the industry even after we start getting back to normal? What are you doing to prepare? 

I’m worried about different event holders still existing after this is over. I know there have been layoffs and I would hate to see companies fold after this is over.  We have started to brainstorm internally about what homegrown events we can come up with.

What are you doing to break the monotony? 

I coach a youth travel softball team.  Each day I try to check in with another family to see how that individual player is doing and their family in general. Sometimes it’s through texting, other times my daughter and I will Facetime with a player.  This helps to break up the days, and gives us the social connection that we are missing. The families feel appreciate that I’m reaching out so that’s always a plus.

Have you taken up any new hobbies/ activities/ cooking? If so, what are they and do you have any to share (especially recipes!!) 

I have definitely been cooking a lot more, taking more time in preparing dinners and meal prepping for the week. 

What books are you reading?

I just finished Sunburn by Laura Lippman, I need more books to read so I’m open for suggestions!

Is there anything you’re doing during the quarantine that you didn’t do before or something you hope to continue to do once it ends?

I’m taking more walks and bike rides in my neighborhood. Usually I feel too busy to do this but it has helped break up the day and/or give myself a mental break.  I’ve been starting some days with a walk, my daughter has joined me which helps get some energy out before her school work. Afternoon and evening bike rides have helped me wind down after my day. I want to continue these after the quarantine, and make time, instead of excuses that I’m too busy.

Tiffany Ahalt, Visit Hagerstown and Washington County

What are some of the trade websites/ publications you are following?

Sports ETA

What are/ are there any. challenges you’re facing with the work-life balance? How are you adjusting?

I recently began my role at the CVB so there is a lag with getting to meet partners and colleagues face to face, everything is done via phone and email. Also, I am a people person, a Type-A Personality for sure. It is difficult to experience such limited contact.

What are some of the challenges you foresee moving forward for the industry even after we start getting back to normal? What are you doing to prepare?

We will need to restructure our planning, marketing and sales strategies. Sponsorships will be down, there will be new guidelines and restrictions from the CDC and local health departments.

What is your daily routine?

Wake up early, check my kids leaning schedule (online), make LOTS of coffee, check email, work, lunch, work, hike, work, dinner. We live close to the C&O Canal in Frederick County so we love to take in the beauty and quality of the recreational experience. In the evenings, we often enjoy a fire in the backyard.

Have you taken up any new hobbies?

Purchased an Instant Pot, feeling like a short order cook. I have two growing boys that LOVE to eat.

Is there anything you’re doing during the quarantine that you didn’t do before or something you hope to continue once it ends?

This has been a great opportunity to teach and remind my kids about wants versus needs. Most important, there is a reason why I never wanted to homeschool my children. As a Rotarian, service to my community is important. My family recently adopted an elderly couple who is not about to go out for groceries or medicine because of COVID-19. We deliver groceries to them twice a month, send notes and call them.

Cole Lacey, Wicomico Recreation, Parks & Tourism

What are some of the trade websites/ publications you are following to stay up to date?

Attending and listening to just about every webinar that is being promoted through the Sports ETA website.

How has your day changed from normal operations?

Currently, working from home and focusing on relationships with our current network. I am constantly checking in with organizers to see how they are handling and making out through these tough times.

What are some of the strategies you’re using to adjust to your new schedule/ working conditions?

Set realistic goals for each day knowing I may be distracted by my kids.

Are you keeping in contact with other members of the sport tourism industry… What are you hearing from them?

I feel like I am keeping in contact with more members and more frequently with other members in the sport tourism industry. I think there is a lot to learn from different destinations all across the country.

What are you doing to break the monotony?

Getting outside as much as possible. Getting back to simpler activities, like fishing.

What shows are you watching (TV/streaming, Movies, Documentaries) ?

I actually believe that I have been watching less TV. Not having sports on TV has forced me to find other activities to do.

Marjorie Hampson, Baltimore County Tourism

How has your day changed from normal operations?

My day has gone from promoting Baltimore County attractions and events through e-newsletters, Facebook and the tourism website to assisting local businesses find financial support during this pandemic (BaCo tourism is part of economic and workforce development). This time of year, I would be promoting our steeplechase races, the Guinness Pub Run, and updating next year’s visitors guide. The tourism e-newsletter this month contained beneficial resources for small businesses, a pitch to support local restaurants with carryout orders, and a list of virtual tours for families to take right from their sofas. The tourism Facebook page has turned into a plethora of Baltimore County restaurants listing their menus for daily take-out.

How do you think/ Do you think this pandemic will change the way we do sport tourism in the future?

This is totally my opinion – when the ban is eventually lifted and normalcy begins to return, I foresee folks NOT clamoring to events, malls, stadiums, attractions, etc.  Perhaps the fact that folks may be hesitant to engage in socializing again may deter tourism/travel efforts. Tourism in general, including sports tourism, will need to strategize to regain the public’s trust that air flights are safe, large gatherings at stadiums are safe, festivals and malls are safe. This will be a huge undertaking for all of us in the tourism industry. Am I alone in this thought? Maryland Office of Tourism and Film is organizing business heads and association directors to tackle this approaching dilemma.

What shows are you watching (TV/ Streaming, Movies, Documentaries)

My husband and I are watching tons of Netflix at night and on the weekends. Of course, we finished Tiger King (and BTW, Carole Baskin is guilty as sin!) Sneaky Pete was good – only wish there was another season to see if Pete and Julia get together! We watched a couple of Tom Segura’s comedy specials – have seen all of Sebastian Maniscalco’s – highly recommend both of these comedians on Netflix. We have turned into TV aficionados!

Elizabeth Joyner, Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County

What are some of the trade websites/ publications you are following to stay up to date?

MPI, PCMA, Sports ETA, STR Report

How do you think/ Do you think this pandemic will change the way we do sport tourism in the future?

If our new “normal” is a 6-foot distance requirement, it is going to change the way everything is done.

What is your daily routine?

Workout, shower/dress for the day, email catch-up, making my toddler breakfast, planning my day with my husband to juggle taking care of a toddler and both of us working full time… We say, “Happy Groundhogs Day” to each other every morning, to lighten the mood.

What are you doing to break the monotony?

Taking this time to enjoy my fourteen-month old, she is full of entertainment.

Have you taken up any new hobbies/ activities/ cooking?

Re-learning how to Rollerblade! My neighborhood just got repaved and it’s fairly flat! My parents mailed me my Rollerblades (circa 2000) and they are still in great shape!

Graham Whaples, Maryland Sports

How has your day changed from normal operations? 

We are a very schedule-oriented family. My wife wakes up early because she teaches at a local high school. I’d usually feed my son breakfast and get him off to school before my commute to the office in Baltimore. While it’s been nice not to rush around in the morning (or the evening before making lunches for the next day) it is tough juggling teleworking with my son’s school work now and my wife tele-teaching. Some days I take on the brunt of his classwork, sometimes she does. Like it has been for everyone, it’s quite an adjustment.

What are some of the challenges you foresee moving forward for the industry even after we start getting back to normal? What are you doing to prepare?

I think the tourism industry will be an area that bounces back quickly once things reopen. I think people are itching to get back out there, though maybe not in the same capacity as before. Obviously, we’re dealing with historic unemployment nationally, furloughs, job insecurity etc. I often wonder what restrictions will remain in place specifically for sports if social distancing orders remain in place. What effect will that have on the sport tourism industry, that’s an issue that all of us will have to look at closely and determine where/ how we can address that shortfall. There are a lot of unknowns out there but we’re continuing to do our part to showcase the state of Maryland and remind folks that we’ll be here for them when they’re ready to return to business.

What shows are you watching (TV/ Streaming, Movies, Documentaries)?

Better Call Saul, Bob’s Burgers, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Recently started Ozark on Netflix. McMillions, the HBO documentary about the McDonald’s Monopoly scam in the early 2000s. And, of course, Tiger King!

What books are you reading?

With the Anne Arundel County Library closed, my reading has gone way down except when it comes to reading with my son and the books provided on Google Slides from the school system. Right before the closures, I had just finished The Handmaid’s Tale and knocked out the sequel, The Testaments in the first few days of quarantine. Since then, my reading consists of the local newspapers and the few magazine subscriptions we have (National Geographic, Time and All Recipes). I did just get The Water Dancer in the mail so I’m excited to start that.


About Maryland Sports:

The mission of Maryland’s Sports Commission is to enhance Maryland’s economy, image and quality of life through the attraction, promotion, retention and development of regional, national and international sporting events.

About TEAM Maryland:

TEAM Maryland is a statewide initiative designed to collectively market Maryland to the entire sports industry by creating a synergistic approach to the way we market ALL of Maryland as a sports destination.

Top High School Football Players to Square Off in Maryland Crab Bowl XII

Annual Showcase of High School Seniors comes to Salisbury this weekend

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Crab Bowl Facebook

(Salisbury, MD)  —  For high school seniors across the state of Maryland, playing football in December means you’re at the top of your game. Only the best-of-the-best play in December; whether that means battling it out for a state or conference championship or being one of the select few who get to showcase their talents in the Maryland Crab Bowl High School All-Star Football Game.

“This game is just a great way for seniors to end their careers by being recognized as one of the best in their state,” said Tony Kennedy, President of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Foundation Inc., which manages this and several other events that provide opportunities to student-athletes who aspire to play football at the collegiate level. 

(Left) Adrian Amos; (Right) Marquel Lee. Photo Courtesy of

The Maryland Crab Bowl, held annually in December, is the only recognized football All Star game in the state of Maryland. Kennedy takes great pride in the fact that several alumni from past Maryland Crab Bowl games are currently playing football in the NCAA and NFL. Among those are Calvert Hall High School (Baltimore) alumni and current Green Bay Packers defensive back Adrian Amos, and Westlake High School (Waldorf) graduate and current Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquel Lee

For the 12th Annual Maryland Crab Bowl, Kennedy announced earlier this year that the game will be played on the Eastern Shore for the first time ever, at Sea Gull Stadium on the campus of Salisbury University. Kennedy stressed the importance of expanding the game beyond its traditional location from the Baltimore-Washington Metro area, “Salisbury has been wonderful and we felt that by bringing game to the Eastern Shore that it would bring much needed exposure to all of our kids, not just the kids around our Beltways.” Kennedy said that the players are looking forward to all of the activities that have been planned across the Lower Eastern Shore as part of the All-Star Weekend festivities.

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Crab Bowl Facebook

In addition to the game, players and their families are invited to attend the banquet Friday evening in Ocean City at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center. There is also a planned visit to the Harriet Tubman Underground RailRoad and State Park and Museum in Dorchester County. Game day kicks off at 9:30 Saturday morning, starting with the 7th and 8 Grade Crab Bowl Youth All Star Games, as the Eastern Shore will take on Virginia Beach in two separate contests. The 12th Annual Maryland Crab Bowl High School Seniors All-Star Game will begin at 1:30 p.m., as the top players from Maryland public and private high schools and the District of Columbia face-off. 

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Crab Bowl Facebook

“The opportunity afforded to these players, to showcase their abilities against their peers, while also representing their schools and their hometowns is something truly special for any student-athlete,” said Maryland Sport Executive Terry Hasseltine, who will serve as the keynote speaker at Friday evening’s banquet. “This is also a huge win for Salisbury University and the Lower Eastern Shore community which, in recent years, has become a premier destination for sport tourism events from all over the country,” Hasseltine added.

Cole Lacey, Sports Marketing Representative for Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism, called the game, “A fantastic opportunity for some of the most elite football players in the state to come to our area, as well as, showcase the great facilities that Salisbury University has to offer.” Lacey says there is a lot of excitement around the fact that the Eastern Shore will be the home of the Crab Bowl this year.

For more information, including a complete listing of games and times, visit:


Maryland Crab Bowl XII

When: Saturday, December 21st

Where: Sea Gull Stadium; Salisbury University

Game Times: 

9:30 a.m. Game 1: 7th grade Crab Bowl Youth Stars (Eastern Shore vs. Virginia Beach)

11:30 a.m. Game 2: 8th grade Crab Bowl Youth Stars (Eastern Shore vs. Virginia Beach)

1:30 p.m. Game 3: The Maryland Crab Bowl XII: High School Senior All-Stars

More information:

About the Mid-Atlantic Sports Foundation:

Mid-Atlantic Sports Foundation is a non-profit organization aimed to support all student-athletes who desire to pursue affordable college opportunities through encouragement, education, and premier experiences, enabling them to showcase their passion and talent. 

About Maryland Sports:

The mission of Maryland’s Sports Commission is to enhance Maryland’s economy, image and quality of life through the attraction, promotion, retention and development of regional, national and international sporting events. 

“Not for the Faint of Heart”: 57th Annual JFK 50 Mile Returns to Washington County November 23rd

“Kennedy Challenge” Ultramarathon in Western Maryland is “Last of its Kind”

Boonsboro, MD  —  In the spring of 1963, President John F. Kennedy put forth a challenge to get America moving again. Kennedy was committed to challenging members of the U.S. Military to keep up with a rigorous skillset put in place at the beginning of the 20th Century by then-President Theodore Roosevelt. More than a half-century later, residents of Washington County, Maryland continue their commitment to the former president’s vision, with the annual JFK 50 Mile Ultramarathon

“The original challenge, to cover 50 miles on foot in one day, was issued by Teddy Roosevelt in the early 1900s. JFK greatly admired Roosevelt and, after a 50-year hiatus, (Kennedy) reissued the ‘Roosevelt/Kennedy Challenge’ during his administration,” explained Mike Spinnler, Race Director for the JFK 50 Mile. Spinnler is not only the Race Director for the JFK 50 Mile, he is also a past participant and two-time winner, “This event is conducted annually in Washington County, and it’s the last surviving ‘Kennedy Challenge’ event existing in the United States.”

Following Kennedy’s death, which happened just a few months after the inaugural nationwide Kennedy Challenge, many communities decided not to continue the JFK 50 Mile, or held a memorial run in its place, as Washington County did in 1964. For Spinnler, who competed from 1971 through 1990, and has served as race director since 1993, the credit for the race’s longevity and success is one shared by many, “We get amazing community support from local government, local businesses, hundreds of local residents who volunteer their time and energy, as well as the amazing assistance from Dan Spedden and his staff with the Hagerstown/ Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.”

Continue reading