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.”

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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:

http://www.mdsoccerplex.org

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

https://washingtonspirit.com/

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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TOP of the BAY Lacrosse Prepares Youth for Life Outside Lax

Lacrosse tournaments on hot summer days in Maryland are nothing out of the ordinary for players, coaches and parents across the country. This June, Harford and Cecil County will host a brand new tournament with an invaluable message: One Love.  Continue reading

2018: What has Passed, What is Ongoing & 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 has already happened and what’s to come for Maryland Sports, our TEAM Maryland Partners, MAASA & Maryland’s Own! Continue reading

Out With the Old, In With the New!

With many exhilarating events this past year, 2017 was an important year for the sport tourism industry! Here’s what to look forward to in wrapping up 2017 as well as events happening in the first few months of 2018 in Maryland. Continue reading