After a two-decade hiatus, the Annapolis All-Stars youth athletic program returns to Annapolis this summer.
The All-Stars’ founders are husband and wife Stanford Womack Sr. and Shirley Womack, who aim to strengthen relationships and help young people in their community as they did when they started the program in 1989. The couple do teamed up with their son, Jonathan Womack Sr., and a group of dedicated volunteers, some of whom were involved in the first version of the program, to bring it back to life.
“We see kids out there doing nothing,” Stanford Womack Sr. said in a June interview. “Add that with kids who are basically captive in their homes and neighborhoods because of COVID-19, so we just have a need in the community.”
The sports program should start at the end of July. Those interested can check in at Bates Middle School Complex from 6-7:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. Early bird registration closes July 15 and soccer practice begins July 29. The All-Stars program is open to girls and boys ages 4-13 and participation is free.
“We know we can impact the lives of these kids, we just use sports to get their attention,” Stanford Womack Sr. said.
Womack originally started the All-Stars with his wife in the late ’80s to not only get kids involved in sports, but also to provide academic programs and mentorship, he said. What started with just two football teams in 1989 grew to eight in 1991. The program later expanded to include 13 basketball teams and six baseball teams and four cheerleading teams.
Each night during the program’s heyday, more than 120 children would gather in the Bates Middle School cafeteria for a study hall, hear motivational speakers who provide insight into life or take field trips to nearby colleges, a said Womack Sr..
“Anything that exposes children to things they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to,” he said.
Central to the organization’s mission was to improve the social, economic, and cognitive skills of the youth they serve through mentorship, athletics, and education. Everything the All-Stars have been for the community they hope to return to, with a focus on exercise and extra help for kids to be better members of society.
“Willpower, education, perseverance and determination were the founding principles of the organization and we are very proud to be able to bring them back because that is what children need,” said Shirley Womack, co-founder and secretary .
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In 1996, the Womacks retired to devote time to Stanford’s new construction business. The program served over 500 children before officially disbanding in 2001.
More than 20 years later, the organization will return under a slightly different name, The Annapolis All Stars II, Inc., and will offer seasonal sports much like a high school schedule.
Although the name is not exactly the same, the mission is. The Womacks use coaches and mentors who have seen the impact of All-Stars firsthand. Larry Dobson, baseball coach for Arundel High School, will serve as All-Star Baseball Coach. Dobson’s 12-year-old son will also participate in the program.
“From middle school and below, these kids don’t get much help here,” Dobson said in an interview. “I’m from Annapolis and I love what the program is about. So whatever help or resources I can offer, I will provide.
Eric Beavers, who participated in the program in the 1990s, said he was thrilled to help out and show his support for the next generation of All-Stars.
“What the All-Stars have been to us growing up, what the Womacks have been to our community is simply irreplaceable,” Beavers said. “I live in Howard County now, but if my kids were younger, I would bring them to Annapolis just to be All-Stars. Anyway, I’ll help the Womacks when I can because they helped me.
Organizers are looking for donations and sponsorships to help pay for uniforms and equipment. All contributions are tax deductible. Checks should be made payable to Annapolis All-Stars II, Inc., Silopanna Road, Annapolis, Md. 21403.