Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where have they gone?

A commenter asked a couple times--or two commenters asked once each--what happened to Merlands. That's a good question. We don't track teams after they leave the league. Maybe all of you out there in blogland can help us fill in the details on our former members. Here are the teams that have bowed out of MCSL and the year they last competed:

1. Merlands (1964)
2. Cinnamon Woods (1990)
3. Hungerford-Stoneridge (1990)
4. Carter Hill (1991)
5. Park Forest (1993)
6. Wheaton Haven (1996)
7. Pleasantview (2002)
8. Aspen Hill (2004)

There have also been Montgomery Village teams such as Northgate and Stedwick that have stopped competing, but the swimmers from those teams just move over to another Village pool--the Village is a special case.

Of the 8 pools I've listed, I think only 3 still exist--Cinnamon Woods, Carter Hill, and Pleasantview. (At least I hope these 3 are still around.) The others were sold to developers and have houses instead of water on their property. Costs are high for community pools and many have struggled to make ends meet. Park Forest had an added challenge--a fire destroyed a good part of its property.

Back to Merlands. Here's what happened, according to my informant, Bill Bullough: "To the best of my recollection (and my recollections are somewhat foggy these days) I was coaching at Merlands the day it was closed. The land was privately owned by an old [gentleman] who acquired the property through connections he had in the Truman administration. The club [Board of Directors] members had a lease with an option to buy. At the end of the lease the [gentleman] did not want to exercise the option because the land was worth so much. To break the option he tried to prove the property had not been kept up by showing pictures of the pool in March etc. He got an injunction to close the club until the trial. The county sheriffs came to the pool unannounced while I was coaching and sent everybody home and locked it up. It was just before the Divisionals and we had a good team, but no pool. Daleview was nice enough to allow us to practice there after their own practice. The coach that year was Jack Graham, who is the currently principal of Good Counsel!

"[The gentleman] had the trial delayed over several years and moved to Denton MD where he knew the judge. I use to go to the hearings. The members without a club, and assessments to pay the lawyer, finally gave up. The property reverted back to [the gentleman] who sold it to a developer who built the Foxhall community between Glenmont and Aspen Hill."


Anonymous said...

Park Forest is now a high end townhouse complex across from Rockville High, no sign of a pool left.

Anonymous said...

may I say YEAH DALEVIEW!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Watkins Mill from the Village!!!!

Long live the Marlins!!

Paul Wolf

Jeff said...

Thanks for finding out what happened to Merlands!

Were Cinnamon Woods, Carter Hill, and Pleasantview punished for their decision to leave the league without shutting down their pool? If not, I feel they should have been.

Sally MacKenzie said...

Oh, no, Jeff. Usually teams don't leave because they want to. I'm not sure what happened to Cinnamon Woods. Pleasantview had been struggling for a while with membership. If I'm remembering correctly--and I'll admit I could be getting this story confused with another team--their motto was "held together with duct tape." Finally they just didn't have enough kids or parent volunteers to field a team. I think they--and the MCSL--do hope they'll be able to come back some day.

I was rep at Rockshire when Carter Hill had to close for major repairs. We got a number of swimmers from their team for the few years--I think it was at least two years--they were closed. Again, I think they couldn't field a team when they reopened. I also believe Carter Hill is only a four lane pool, so it could never have home meets.

Anonymous said...

Watkins Mill team was folded into Stedwick (and Stedwick later folded into Whetstone) because, IIRC, there were a total of 42 swimmers registered in the final year. Punishing teams that want to field a participate but are unable to due to low swimmer counts just seems silly and seems to fly in the face of what MCSL stands for.

Paul Wolf

Jeff said...

Then you must ask what is causing the low swimmer count? If it is a coach that isn't able to drive/motivate people to swim, then he/she should be punished by the league for causing a team to go defunct. Point is this is a club is it not? There are induction rites and passage. You can't just break a contractual agreement or understanding without consequences, now can you?

What's not fair is that you have swimmers from these now defunct pools joining other teams that are now monoliths. Just look at Stonegate, Manchester Farm and others who were jokes just 4-5 years ago but have unreal growth since.

Sally MacKenzie said...

Hi, Jeff. You touch on a variety of topics. Let me see if I can address some of them.

1. There are lots of reasons a team drops out of the league, but poor coaching is probably not one of them. Parent volunteers at the pools organize their teams and hire their coaches. If a coach doesn't work out for any reason, then usually those parents don't hire him or her back the next year.

2. We have at least three kinds of pools in the league--public pools run by Rockville City or Montgomery County, homeowners pools (you belong to the pool because you live in that neighborhood and your yearly homeowners dues goes at least partly to support the pool), and private clubs (where you join the pool by paying annual dues and perhaps an initial membership fee or bond). I'd say, with homeowner pools, small swim teams are sometimes the result of the neighborhood aging. Once the houses begin to turn over to young families with swim team age children, the team often grows. With private clubs, sometimes there are too many of them in a small area and they are competing for a limited number of families. And I'm sure there are many other factors.

3. The Montgomery County Swim League has no power to sanction pools, even if it wanted to. I wonder if some people think that since we have Montgomery County in our title, we are a part of county government. We are not. We're just a volunteer group of parents from various pools running a fun summer program for kids.

4. I'm not sure I understand your point about a club or contractual agreement. Yes, if a pool has agreed to field a team, then we expect the team to follow the MCSL rules of competition and to participate for that season. We also appreciate, but can't compel teams to let us know in advance of the season if they are dropping out of the league so we can let the teams they would be swimming know. But sometimes the smaller teams don't know from summer to summer if they have the money, kids, and parent volunteers until the pools open in May. It should also be noted that sometimes teams and their pools don't quite get along. There's often a bit of tension among the non-team pool members who want to swim and find the pool is being used for practice or a swim meet. So sometiems teams aren't getting lots of support from their pools.

5. Teams get stronger and rise up in the league, and sometimes they get weaker and fall. But MCSL tries, through the computerized swim off, to match comparable teams in divisions so everyone has a fun season. It should not be any team's goal--or at least not their sole goal--to get to the top of the league.

6. What teams can do is try to have the best program they can. Back when my kds' team was in the lower divisions, we had a wonderful coach. She used to say it was less important to win than to have fun. Having fun will keep kids on a team, and if they stay on the team, they will get faster.