SOMD-Howard County Gets a High Five

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“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear

On Tuesday October 25th, 2016 the Howard County Recreation and Parks held their 14th Annual  Banquet with the theme of “Celebration of Sports” were they recognized the great work of many organizations and individuals within Howard County. Among them this talented group at Recs and Parks recognized the genius of Special Olympics Maryland-Howard County who took home 5 awards that night.

A brief summary of the recipients taken from the nomination form and photos for each are listed below.

RUSS YOUNG GoodSports Administrator Award

2016-russ-young-good-sports-award“Special Olympics Howard County developed an organizational structure of 36 volunteer Sports Coordinators to units 19 sports programs. Russ Young, Director of Sports Coordinators, oversees all the sport coordinators throughout the year. He developed a Sports Coordinator Handbook with information on how to manage and run the sports program, what to do before, during and after each sports season. He holds training sessions with new volunteers assuming a Sports Coordinator role. Throughout the year through monthly meetings and emails, he keeps all the Coordinators informed of important information, upcoming deadlines and athlete opportunities. Russ is essential to our organization.”

JACK MILLER GoodSports Coaches Award

“Coach Jack Miller has been the foundation for our basketball program for the past 15 years. Jack took a bunch of 2016-jack-miller-goodsports-awardindividual players and taught them to play unselfish basketball. He addresses the different skill needs of each athlete, while ensuring they work hard at improving while still having fun training and competing. He taught them how to be driven by a team goal and collective achievement. In 2014, he took his team to the Special Olympics USA Games in Princeton, NJ where they earned a bronze medal. The success of the basketball program was built by this dedicated coach.”


JOE CUCCHIARO GoodSports Officials Award

“Joe Cucciaro, a USA certified aquatics official, has been an integral part of the Special Olympics Maryland-Howard County aquatics program for 4 years. 2016-joe-cucuchiaro-goodsports-awardAfter observing SOHO aquatics volunteers and Unified partners while officiating at the SOMD Summer Games, he got his daughters involved as volunteer coaches and Unified partners ands recruited 10 other fellow swim officials to donate their time as officials for our annual swim competition held at Howard Community College. Nearly 170 swimmers from 4 Special Olympics Maryland County programs participate in this event. His enthusiasm for our athletes has grown and he has become a regular attendee at practices as well.”


THOMAS SMITH GoodSports Adult Player Award

thomas-smith-goodsports-awards“Thomas Smith  is a multi-sport athlete participating in powerlifting, basketball and athletics. His performance and behavior epitomize that which we value in athletes -dedication, sincerity, sportsmanship, respect and leadership. Always with a smile on his face, he encourages his fellow athletes, respects and appreciates his coaches and volunteers who work with him. He serves as a member of the Special Olympics Maryland Athletes Leadership Council and Athlete Leadership Program as a Global Messenger, speaking around the state about what Special Olympics means to him and how it has changes his and his fellow athletes lives”

ALLAN WASCHAK Community Sports Hall of Fame Award

The Howard County Community Sports Hall of Fame, established in 2005, honors outstanding persons, living or deceased, who have gained prominence or made substantial contributions to community recreational programs in Howard County.

“Since 1995, Allan Washcak has served many roles with Special Olympics Maryland Howard County, including ensuring the group’s financial stability so it can continue to provide athletic opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Time after time, Allan stepped up when it looked like the program might become inactive by securing sponsorships and other funding.

allan-hof-inductionSince Allan became fundraising director in 1998, the organization has raised $2.8 million. He has also led the aquatics program since 1995. What started out with 8 athletes has grown to 94 athletes, 9 coaches and 34 student volunteers. It is the largest Special Olympics swimming program in the state. Watching the reaction of Special Olympics athletes and their families give Allan the incentive to keep the program running.”


Congratulations to all the Howard County winners and to all the other winners that night. It was a great way to recognize the hard work that so many put into their community.

This article was written by Special Olympics Maryland