Donny Bikowski has a rule about the Laurel Branch recreational adult softball team: Unless you live in the northwest Charles County neighborhood, you can't play for it.
"I started this team 12 years ago, and it's just always been that way," said Donny Bikowski, the sports program assistant for Charles County and, at age 48, the oldest member of the team. "We don't go out and get better players from other neighborhoods; we just work with what we have."
But when the champions of the men's 18-and-older Pacific West Division of the Charles County Department of Public Facilities league took the field yesterday at Laurel Springs Park for the postseason double-elimination tournament, they were making one notable, albeit small, exception to that long-standing rule.
Bikowski's eldest son, Craig, made a special trip from Colorado to participate in the tournament. However, he was not a ringer -- Craig lived in Laurel Branch and played for the team before heading west just two weeks ago.
"I think we can excuse that," said Donny Bikowski, laughing.
Craig's trip home will serve as a last hurrah for his father, who retired from play a year ago but came back this season for the opportunity to play -- for the first time -- with both Craig and younger son Chris, 17. Chris is eligible for the 18-and-over division because he has already graduated from high school.
Tournament results were not available at press time.
"Craig and I played together on the team about four years ago before he put in four years with the Marines," Donny Bikowski said. "But this is the first opportunity we've ever had to all play together competitively. And, retired or not, I just couldn't pass it up."
Other father-son combinations on the team include Alan Overby and his two sons, Adam, 21, and Luke, 18; and Marty Steffensmeier and his son, Aaron, 19. Adam Overby is in his second year with Laurel Branch, but this is the first season for Luke Overby, McDonough High's 1999 valedictorian, and Aaron Steffensmeier.
"They have brought two things to this team we definitely needed: youth and speed," Donny Bikowski said. "It has been rough this summer with all of the heat, especially on me since I'm the oldest one on the team, but I'm hanging in there. Having this chance to play with my sons makes it all worth it."
Camp for Youngsters
The Chesapeake Hills Golf Club in Lusby will host its 10th annual Junior Golf Camp tomorrow through Friday. Camp directors are hoping to limit the number of students (ages 7 to 17) to about 50 at this year's camp, but there are still openings available.
The camp, which costs $60 per student, will run from 9 to 11 a.m. tomorrow through Thursday, and will resume at 3 p.m. Friday to give the players an opportunity to put what they have learned to use. Each player will be given about two hours on the course Friday. For the younger children, that will probably mean only two to three holes of golf, but it should allow older players to get in nine holes. The outing will be followed by a picnic and awards ceremony sponsored by the Solomons Island Optimist Club.
Rich Clark, one of six camp instructors, said the first four sessions will target chipping, putting, iron play and wood play. Handouts will be provided daily to review golf rules and etiquette. Clark, a PGA member since 1991, is now in his third year at Chesapeake Hill and is one of two area professionals who will give lessons. The other, Brad Bailey, is in his second year with the club.
"We like to do this every year to help get kids involved in golf and in sports, in general," Clark said. "We hope to give them an understanding of the game and provide them with an outlet to get off the streets."
To register for the camp or for more information, call Clark at 410-326-4653.
Silver Medal for Checkers
The Waldorf Checkers, a 12-13-year-old select roller hockey team, captured the silver medal at the Virginia State Games on June 27 with a 3-1 tournament record. Waldorf was beaten in the gold medal game by the undefeated Rattlers of Ashland, N.C., a team that had not yielded a goal all season before facing the Checkers.
The Checkers not only managed to score three goals on the Rattlers, but had a chance to tie the game in the closing minutes. Waldorf's Randy Utz scored with 2 minutes 30 seconds left in regulation to pull the Checkers within 4-3 of the Rattlers. But even after pulling goalie Randy Schwartz in the final minutes for an extra skater, they were unable to net the tying goal.
"It was real close," said Checkers coach Chip Sparks. "It went down to the nitty-gritty. They blew us out 7-0 the first time we played them, about two weeks ago down in North Carolina, but we came out this time and were all over them. We outshot them, 40 to 20, but their goalie was just too good. We had a real hard time putting it past him."
Schwartz and fellow goalie Josh Ellis set the tone defensively for the Checkers, giving up just six goals in four games. Spenser Smallwood led the team offensively throughout the tournament with a team-high 12 points. Utz totaled six points, Mark Hartmann scored five, and Cory Smith and Sean Fullerton each added four.
The Checkers will be back in action July 24 in Des Moines, at the National Roller Hockey Championships. Smallwood, who moved up to the 12-13-year-old age group this season, was named the 10-11-year-old division's Most Valuable Player last year at the national championships.
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
The Athletes of the Week feature has this week off. To submit nominations, send them to Southern Maryland Extra, c/o Theoden K. Janes, 100 N. Oak Ave., La Plata, Md. 20646. You can also fax announcements to 301-934-1088 or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org
CAPTION: The Bikowskis -- father Donny, center, with Chris, left, and Craig -- are one of three father-son combos on the Laurel Branch team.