Maryland Sports Commission Welcomes Delegation from Tongxiang, China

Meeting provides opportunity for new partnerships and ideas exchange

Ashley Harper Cottrell and Graham Whaples of the Maryland Sports Commission pose for a picture with trade delegation from Tongxiang, China.

BALTIMORE, MD — In the first meeting of its kind, the Maryland Sports Commission hosted a delegation of representatives from Tongxiang, China on Friday. Several members of the Tongxiang  government, along with heads of state television and radio stations, arrived in Baltimore as part of an international trade mission. The goal was for Tongxiang officials to discuss strategies aimed at developing the sport tourism industry and the potential for future partnerships between that region and the state of Maryland. 

“We welcome any opportunity to connect with potential partners, whether it’s organizations from within the United States or internationally,” said Terry Hasseltine, Executive Director of the Maryland Sports Commission. “Whenever there is the opportunity to grow the sport tourism industry for the state of Maryland, we’re always interested in getting together to learn more and to share the successes we’ve experienced.” 

Pan Minfang, Member of the Standing Committee and Head of the Publicity Department for the Tongxiang Municipal Committee, said that this was the first delegation from Tongxiang to visit Maryland as part of an officially sanctioned government meeting, although she previously came to the state back in 2003. Speaking through an interpreter, Minfang joked that Tongxiang is a “small town” by Chinese standards, boasting a population of more than 1.2 million people. Minfang said the delegation was in Baltimore with the hopes of developing international cooperation and partnerships and to learn about the success of the sport tourism industry in the United States. 

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Trading Dingers for ‘6’s’: Sport of Cricket growing in Maryland

Players from across the state to take part in the first-ever “Cricket Day” at Camden Yards

BALTIMORE, MD — Though it’s popularity on the international stage is much larger than in the United States, the game of cricket has found a home here in Maryland. Currently, there are more than 500 children playing organized organized cricket in Maryland – one of the largest percentages in the United States. That’s according to Jamie Harrison, Chairman of the Maryland Youth Cricket Association (MYCA)

“We are the nation’s leader in youth cricket participation, and it’s not even a contest,” said Harrison, who has been working to build the sport in the state since the late 2000s. When he began working to organize the MYCA in 2010, Harrison says there were no organized youth cricket leagues in Maryland. At that time, there were established men’s leagues in the D.C. -Metro area but no real efforts in place to grow the game through local communities. 

Earlier this month, the MYCA announced a new partnership with the Baltimore Orioles, as the franchise is set to host its first-ever “Cricket Day” on Sunday, August 11th against the Houston Astros. “Cricket has a long and storied history in Maryland, and it’s great to see the Orioles getting behind its resurgence,” said Harrison. He believes that baseball fans can easily find cricket appealing, as many players have made the transition between the two sports, “The games share a common ancestry with many similar elements. It’s only natural that baseball fans would be cricket fans and vice-versa.”

Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game will be 14-year-old Lisa Ramjit of Bowie. The Prince George’s county resident shined this year for Team USA. Ramjit started by taking the first-ever International T20 wicket in USA Women’s cricket history on just her second ball, going on to become the top T20 International wicket-taker in USA Women’s Cricket history. 

Ramjit started playing cricket at the age of seven for the 11U ball team of the Boys and Girls Club of Bowie. The areas of the state seeing the largest growth and popularity have been in the metropolitan areas, specifically Montgomery, Howard and parts of Prince George’s Counties, according to Harrison. 

“Since 2010, I’ve personally placed free cricket sets in hundreds of schools in Maryland and taught the game to thousands of students,” said Harrison, who admits that it’s been more than an individual effort, “In 2011, I met Sham Chotoo from the Boys and Girls Club of Bowie. I brought him into MYCA and his activity in schools has even surpassed me.”

A Chance Encounter at an Unlikely Place

As a teacher at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Baltimore, Harrison went on a field trip with students to a Civil War site in Virginia in 2008. That is where he was first introduced to the game. Harrison recalls the class watching a cannon-firing demonstration when “a man in period clothing called out to our group, asking if we would like to play cricket.” Harrison said the sport was being demonstrated as “an artifact of America’s past” and that when his students returned to school the following week, they couldn’t stop talking about it.

“It was during this time that I saw how quickly American children would take to cricket if they were just given a chance. I began to think about the broader implications of this,” Harrison remembered. Over the next year, Harrison said that he and his students started learning the game together and that they quickly went from using plastic sets to playing tennis ball cricket. Before they knew it, Harrison said that he and his students were playing the game with the same equipment and rules as the international game. 

Just as the club began to take off, the Archdiocese of Baltimore announced the closure of Cardinal Gibbons in 2010. “I couldn’t let the sport go. I decided to found the MYCA with the purpose of placing free cricket sets in Maryland schools and give instructions to PE teachers,” Harrison said. 

It was around this time that Harrison started hearing from people around the country who shared a similar passion for the game that he did. He partnered with cricket enthusiasts from around the U.S. to help form the United States Youth Cricket Association (USYCA). The USYCA worked to raise money, donating more than 2,000 cricket sets and training to schools throughout the United States. Harrison left the USYCA in 2016 to place his sole focus on growing the sport in the state of Maryland. 

The Old “Boundary” State

Since turning his attention to Maryland, Harrison says the MYCA has grown into the nation’s only statewide junior competition organization. He credits Chotoo for his work in Prince George’s County, which has the only elementary and middle school competition teams in the state. Maryland is also the only representative state team in the country, which competes in regional and national tournaments at the U12, U14 and U16 age groups. 

In less than a decade, cricket is beginning to gain traction beyond the metro areas with clubs in Carroll County, the Lutherville-Timonium area of Baltimore County and in the Anne Arundel County communities of Linthicum and Ferndale, where Harrison coaches. Because of the growth in the state, Maryland’s Sports Commission awarded the MYCA with a grant for $2,500 in 2018. 

“When most people think cricket, they don’t necessarily think about the United States, let alone Maryland. Our hope is that the perception changes,” said Terry Hasseltine, Executive Director of Maryland’s Sports Commission. “Through the partnership between the MYCA and Maryland Sports, our goal is to promote the state of Maryland as a destination for future championships and tournaments for the game of cricket, especially as its popularity grows in the U.S. More importantly though, we want to make sure that the children in this state have the ability to build upon their skills and give them the opportunity to pursue their passion.”

For the Orioles first “Cricket Day”, $5 of every “Cricket Ticket” sold will go to benefit youth cricket in Maryland. Children who attend the game in their cricket uniforms will also receive a special “6”/ “Home Run” sign to waive in the stands. 

Harrison is hoping the partnership with the Orioles will further promote and enhance the popularity of the game. “I can easily imagine a child who’s never been exposed to cricket seeing children at the game, wearing these interesting uniforms, having fun with their “6” signs and the kids who don’t play cricket asking their parents, ‘What’s that about? It might spark some curiosity, maybe among the parents, too. I hope so, anyway.”

For more information about the Maryland Youth Cricket Association, visit:

For ticket information about the Baltimore Orioles “Cricket Day”, visit:

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. 

Stars of today and tomorrow shine at Maryland SoccerPlex in Montgomery County

Members of USWNT Highlight Fun-filled Summer in Boyds

(Boyds, MD) —  Nestled between the bustling I-270 corridor and the rushing waters of the Potomac River, there is a place where the sports stars of today and tomorrow shine. It’s not quite a cornfield in Iowa, but if there were a Maryland equivalent to Ray Kinsella’s “Field of Dreams”, it just might be the Maryland SoccerPlex & Discovery Sports Center in the town of Boyds in Montgomery County. 

Home to more than 20 soccer fields, with synthetic turf fields complemented by Bermuda and Kentucky Bluegrass natural surfaces, the complex also includes natural and paved walking trails with picturesque streams and ample green space. In addition to the outdoor sports fields and trails, the campus houses the Discovery Sports Center, a 46,000 square foot arena which has basketball and volleyball courts most of the year. In the winter, a synthetic turf field is laid out, allowing for indoor soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, baseball and rugby. The venue has the capability to host conferences, parties and camps year-round. 

The Maryland Soccer Foundation, Inc. manages the Maryland SoccerPlex, Discovery Sports Center, SAM Soccer and a handful of indoor and outdoor tournaments. In 1999, the Montgomery County Planning Board outlined a proposal to build a $19 million dollar soccer complex near Germantown. According to their website, an initiative between the Maryland Soccer Foundation and the MNCPPC was the first public-private partnership in Montgomery County dedicated to creating the largest, premier recreational facility in the D.C. suburbs of Maryland. 

“The Maryland SoccerPlex and Discovery Sports Center are state-of-the-art facilities which offer so much to the region in terms of their ability to host and attract sports organizations and sports tourism,” said Terry Hasseltine, Executive Director of Maryland Sports.  “Having a facility like this allows the state of Maryland to remain competitive when it comes to recruiting new events to the state, especially as we make the pitch to national and international organizations.”

Extra attention will be given to the complex in Boyds this week as the Maryland SoccerPlex is also the home of the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Officials are expecting an influx of fans to come out to support U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team stars Mallory Pugh and Bronze Ball winner Rose Lavelle, as they return to action for the Spirit this summer. The Washington Post reported earlier this week that Lavelle is expected to miss some upcoming games due to a lingering injury sustained during World Cup play.

“We’re excited to welcome home Rose and Mallory from the World Cup Winning U.S. Women’s National Team” said Matt Libber, Executive Director of the Maryland SoccerPlex and Maryland Soccer Foundation. “While the rest of the country and world may have just learned about the incredibly skilled players like Rose and Mallory, here at the Maryland SoccerPlex, we have been watching them advance women’s soccer everyday this season with the Washington Spirit.” 

Rose Lavelle of the USWNT & Washington Spirit

Fans from across the state will have plenty of opportunities to cheer on their favorite members of the USWNT the rest of the season. The Spirit will host goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and midfielder Julie Ertz of the Chicago Stars later this summer. Their next match against the Houston Dash on Friday July 20th will feature a number of international players, including Rachely Daly of The England Women’s Senior Football Team.  The Spirit will also host Alex Morgan and the Orlando Pride as well as Golden Boot Winner, Megan Rapinoe and Reign F.C. However, soccer fans will have to travel into the District for those matches at Audi Field.

Mallory Pugh of the USWNT & Washington Spirit

“The members of the USWNT are undoubtedly the most popular athletes in sports right now, not just here in the U.S., but across the globe,” said Hasseltine adding, “The fact that Marylanders can make a short trip to Montgomery County to see the Rose Lavelle’s, Mallory Pugh’s and the other stars of the international game shows just how lucky we are to have a facility like the Maryland SoccerPlex so close to us.  We hope we can keep that momentum going as Maryland Sports works to secure future national and international soccer events here in the state.” 

Baltimore is currently one of a number of potential host cities for the FIFA 2026 World Cup™. As part of the Maryland Sports bid, the Maryland SoccerPlex is listed as a potential training site for participating nation’s teams. 

For more information about the Maryland SoccerPlex & Discovery Sports Center visit:

For more information about the Washington Spirit, including their upcoming schedule, visit:

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. 

Photo Credits: @MDSoccerPlex, Instagram & @washingtonspirit, Instagram

Softball Teams from around U.S., Canada takeover Lower Shore for annual USSSA Tournament

Since 2007, USSSA Tournament grows from 30 teams to almost 400

(SALISBURY, MD) — Nearly 400 softball teams from across the country will travel to Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore for the annual United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Eastern Nationals Championship. What started as a tournament of 30 teams in 2007, has swelled to more than 370 in a little more than a decade. With more than 5,000 players and their families visiting the Delmarva peninsula over the next three weeks, tournament play will be spread out at venues across Wicomico and Worcester Counties, as well as Ocean City.

“For the teams, the event and the location is a perfect culmination of their season – playing competitive softball in arguably the East Coast’s best summer beach community,” said Bill Dowell, USSSA Vice President of Fastpitch/ Maryland & Delaware State Fastpitch Director.

Andrew Kurtz, Wicomico County sports marketing representative, says many families also use the softball tournament as an opportunity to take advantage of the Lower Shore as a vacation destination, “Wicomico and Worcester Counties and the Town of Ocean City will see a boost in tourist activities throughout the three weeks of tournament play.” Kurtz and tournament organizers say teams will be traveling to the region from all across the United States, from as far west as Utah, with some visitors coming from Canada as well.

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Hagerstown Community Welcomes Return of USA Cycling National Championships

Washington County residents play major role in event’s success.

Cyclists tackle the Criterium in Downtown Hagerstown, MD

HAGERSTOWN, MD — For the second year in a row, the nations top competitors descended upon Washington County, Maryland for the 2019 USA Cycling (USAC) Amateur Road National Championships. Over the course of four days, cyclists tackled the rolling hills of Boonsboro and Clear Spring, with the final day consisting of the high-intensity Criterium (Crit) through the aesthetically pleasing streets of historic Downtown Hagerstown. 

The action-packed weekend kicked-off Wednesday, June 19th, with the Big Bike BBQ Event at the scenic Big Cork Vineyards in Rohrersville. On Thursday, cyclists took to the roads, starting with the Time Trials, where competitors rode past the lush farmlands of Boonsboro. On Friday and Saturday, racers tackled the picturesque backroads of Clear Spring in the two-day Road Race. The championships came to a conclusion Sunday – at speeds of 25 to 30 mph – with the fast-paced Crit through the Arts and Cultural Districts in beautiful Downtown Hagerstown. 

“Hosting the USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championship was such an incredible experience that brought both our local community together and cyclists from across the nation to Washington County” said Audrey Vargason, director of sales for Visit Hagerstown

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2019: What’s to Come in Maryland!

The new year has started in full swing, with events of all sport types taking place across the State of Maryland. If you have missed any, don’t worry! Here is a brief overview of what’s to come for Maryland Sports, our TEAM Maryland Partners, MAASA & Maryland’s Own!

Major events for first half of 2019:

Maryland Sports Spelling BeeSaturday, March 23
Frederick Running FestivalMay 4 – 5
2019 Preakness StakesSaturday, May 18
2019 Division I Women’s Lacrosse ChampionshipsMay 24 – 26
2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Tri Club ChampionshipSunday, June 9
USA Cycling Amateur Road National ChampionshipsJune 20 – 23
Athletx Youth Baseball NationalsJune 21 -28

Other notable 2019 events in the Maryland Sports event database

  • Baltimore Mania Boys and Girls: March 23-24 and March 30-31 in Harford County
  • The Showcase: April 13 in Prince George’s County
  • St. Michael’s Running Festival: May 18 in Talbot County
  • Battle at the Beach & Boardwalk: June 1-30 Ocean City, MD and Surrounding Areas
  • Youth Baseball Nationals: June 21-28 at Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex
  • Naptown National Challenge: July 9-10 Annapolis, Anne Arundel and Queen Anne’s County
  • Under Armour All-America Lacrosse: June 29 at Johns Hopkins University
  • Essex Express Labor Day Shootout: August 30 – September 2 in Baltimore County
  • Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI 3* and 4*: October 17-20 at Fair Hill NRMA
  • Baltimore Running Festival: October 19 in Baltimore City
  • Governor’s Challenge: December 26-30 at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center
  • Is there an event missing? Add it to our FREE events calendar! Feel free to check out our events calendar to stay tuned with all events throughout the year. In addition, get additional exposure FREE, the Maryland Sports quarterly newsletter is based off our event calendar database.