SYKESVILLE, Md. — Welcome to Freedom Park in Sykesville, the hub of recreational activity for hundreds of athletes in Carroll County, where one field now carries the deep ruts of a vehicle's tires where a joyrider late Tuesday scarred the turf for their own enjoyment.
"People that did this---one day they could have kids and their kids could want to play sports and the only thing their kids may have to play on is a dirt lot," said Tom Cast, who volunteers at the park.
If you think someone could just pull out a rake and a bag of grass seed to put the field back into use, you'd be wrong.
The commissioner of Freedom Optimist Soccer, Jay McClenahan, says the various organizations who utilize the fields spent $20,000 back in November to have them ready for the spring.
"It's not just soccer. It's football. It's lacrosse. It's the entire community,” said McClenahan. “It's already effecting play. We have spring leagues that start just in a couple of weeks. We've already had to move one to a whole other set of fields. We're a small town... a small area, and we have over a hundred teams just in soccer alone. To take away one field, it's devastating. You have to move things, and this could take up to a year to fix this field to be playable fulltime again."
Those same leagues have now pitched in a total of $1,500 dollars for a reward to help catch the vandals, and the lead-footed culprits shouldn't expect any leniency after spending a few minutes cutting destructive donuts at the expense of young athletes throughout the area.
"Absolutely. The message needs to be sent,” said McClenahan. “This is for kids. It's for the community. You can't do this. Why would you do this to the children?"
If you are interested in the reward money or have any information, which could help identify the vandals, you can contact the leagues at TIPS@fosoccer.com