Debbie Buenger, a Physical Education instructor at Eldersburg Elementary and 2008 National Association for Sport and Physical Education teacher of the year is one of the instructors in charge of the new program at Eldersburg Elementary.
Jamie Harrison, President of the United States Youth Cricket Association, is responsible for passing the sport along to area schools bringing it to as many areas and schools as he can.
"What we've found is that everywhere we take cricket, children and adults fall in love with the game," said Harrison. "Cricket is the perfect game for group instruction. It can be played indoors or outside, on a basketball court, asphalt or grass. It allows the instructor to observe students as individuals, in a two-person partnership and as parts of a team."
And anyone can play. Participants do not have to be particularly large, strong, or fast.
"Cricket rewards patience, technique and intelligence; stature has very little to do with eventual greatness. This encourages all children to participate, and draws out those typically disaffected. Children who may not ordinarily do well at team sports often find themselves excelling at cricket," said Harrision.
Cricket is not a new sport but is now being rediscovered. Harrison teaches students that the game was America's first team sport and was regularly played in the 1700s.
The USYCA hopes that cricket will catch on the way soccer has over the past 40 years, starting with schoolchildren before moving into popularity with youth leagues.
"For children that adopt the sport now, while it's in its infancy here, opportunities for rapid upward mobility will be great," said Harrison. "There are already hundreds of colleges with cricket teams, and I expect that within a decade we'll start seeing cricket scholarships. For kids who begin cricket now, they could be the early beneficiaries of those scholarship programs."
While Eldersburg Elementary is the first school in Carroll County to offer the sport, it may not be the last. Linda Kephart, Supervisor of Health and Physical Education for Carroll County Public Schools has invited Harrision to present the program to all county physical education teachers on Feb. 22 at Winters Mill High School.
"Cricket is a great striking and strategy sport that can be enjoyed by students of all ability levels…what a great addition this will be to our physical education curriculum," said Kephart.