Baseball is a timeless game. The National Pastime has been played by adults and children alike on fields and stadiums at myriad levels of play. Major League, minor leagues, and down to youth league. It has been proven to not only keep kids grounded but to have them be a part of something that shapes them as individuals. Here in Germantown, the Upper Montgomery Athletic Club or UMAC is an organization that does exactly that. It has been a place where kids can play and learn the game of baseball for 50 years.
UMAC is celebrating its 50th year of providing youth baseball to Montgomery County. A celebration for past and present players, coaches and volunteers will be held at the UMAC Taylor Field Complex at 19501 White Ground Road in Boyds on Sunday, June 5 from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
UMAC is a baseball organization affiliated with the Babe Ruth League youth baseball and Carl Ripken Baseball leagues and teaches children from throughout Montgomery County T-ball, machine pitch, kid pitch, and basic baseball fundamentals. Founded in 1966, it went from having only four teams but years went on and Germantown grew, so did the amount of children UMAC drew in.
“In the 50 years we’ve been here, we’ve had around 5000 kids come through,” said Gene Lowery, president of UMAC. There are currently 700 kids in the program.
Lowery joined UMAC in its early years. In 1975, there was a team starting in Boyds and he ended up coaching his son in the program. Soon after he became part of the executive board of directors and finally president since 1984. He now coaches his grandson in the league.
The work of a president, even at a baseball league, never ends. Between caring for trophies for the spring and fall, storing equipment in his own house, and running a homemade concession stand — the famous “Snack Shack” at Taylor Fields, not to mention being involved with the players on and off the field leaves little wiggle room. But his dedication, as well as that of his staff, speaks for itself in regards to the impact on the community and the thousands of lives it has touched through UMAC.
“It’s about the kids having a great experience,” said Mark Brady who has been a volunteer with UMAC for five years, starting when his son joined the organization. He now coaches the big kids, ages 13 to 18-years. “The biggest thrill I get is watching these boys I’ve been coaching go on to play in high school and beyond, or even just running into them and catching up.”
UMAC has won numerous championships including, winning the 2012 12U World Series, participating in the Carl Ripken World Series, and 2014 9U Maryland State Championships. And recently, the 9U division was runner-up in the Walk the Plank tournament.
UMAC prides itself in being a league that stands out in MoCo and credits that to many things. Their location being one, access to a variety of students from Germantown, Clarksburg, Boyds, Poolesville, and other parts Montgomery County.
Community is a large part of what keeps UMAC going. The organizations is run on sponsorships from small local companies or associations in the community. “How it works,” said Car Ressa, UMAC fundraising chair, “is companies have their brands or logos on the jerseys of the kids the whole season.” UMAC requires each team to go into the community and have a sponsor that supports them. “You give back, but get something for it. It is very community oriented.”
UMAC looks forward to another 50 years of teaching the National Pastime to the youth of Germantown and keeping the tradition going generation after generation.
Photos courtesy UMAC.