Lingner’s leadership earns honor
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 11:33

Pointer athletics chief selected for DRC Milestone Award

by Bill Gates

Sparrows Point athletic director Russ Lingner has one daughter, Mary Beth, and a few hundred stepchildren whose names change from year to year.
    Those would be the student-athletes at Sparrows Point High.
    “You always want your kids to have it a little bit better than you did,” Lingner said. “And I want the best for these kids at Sparrows Point.”
    What Lingner has done for the student-athletes at Sparrows Point earned him a spot as one of the Dundalk Renaissance Corportation Milestone Award honorees.
    “I want these kids to play in a stadium, I want them to play under lights and I want them to play in good uniforms,” Lingner said.
    Check, check and check.  Since Lingner became the Sparrows Point athletic director in 2000, the school has built a stadium, followed by temporary lighting and now permanent lights.
    And the uniforms always look pretty sharp, too.
    “I’m most proud of the stadium, but I’m not there yet,” Lingner said. “We still have one minor thing to finish: a turf field.”
    That’s in the works.
    But it’s not just the facilities. Since Lingner has become athletic director, the school — the second-smallest in Baltimore County and one of the smallest in the state — has enjoyed success in just about every sport.
    The boys soccer team won a state title in 2006 to go along with four regional titles.
    The girls soccer team has won eight regional titles and reached the state finals four times.
    Sparrows Point didn’t field a varsity football team in 2000. Since 2003, the Pointers have had only one losing season and reached the regional playoffs five times.
    Volleyball and field hockey have become consistent winners, the baseball, boys lacrosse and girls lacrosse teams have won regional titles, and the softball team hasn’t had a losing record.
    And the Pointers have won the Peninsula Cup — awarded to the school with the best record against the other two schools in Dundalk-Edgemere — every year but one since its inception in 2004.
    “You take an interest in the kids, and they respond,” Lingner said. “The kids respect it, appreciate it and they take it from there.
    “Playing in a top-notch facility, our kids take pride in what they have and what they’re doing.”
    A former Dundalk athlete himself, Lingner graduated from Patapsco in 1978 and taught and coached baseball and basketball at his alma mater before transferring to Sparrows Point in 1989.
    Outside of what Sparrows Point has accomplished on the playing field and improved facilities under his direction, Lingner is also proud of changing people’s perceptions of kids from Dundalk.
    “I know what it’s like to grow up down here,” he said. “I remember traveling to other schools, hearing the comments: ‘It’s those Sparrows Point kids; those Dundalk kids.’”
    Lingner hated those comments, and didn’t want to hear them anymore.
    “I want to give our kids a sense of pride in where they’re from, allow them to hold their heads up,” he said. “And they know how to conduct themselves. People can’t look at us like they did 10, 20 years ago.”
    But it isn’t something one person can accomplish on their own.
    “I’ve been able to do what I’ve done because of strong leadership from the school administration, a strong community and strong support from the parents,” Lingner said. “If I didn’t have those three, none of this would have taken place.”