Cumberland Times-News

Mike Burke - Sports

July 5, 2012

Fort Hill scholarship drive brings them home

From the looks of things, it won’t rain on Fort Hill’s parade on Saturday, but it probably wouldn’t hurt if it rained today to possibly cool things off for the Fort Hill 75th Anniversary and Reunion of All Classes that takes place all day tomorrow, beginning at 10 a.m., at Fort Hill High School and Greenway Avenue Stadium to benefit the Fort Hill Scholarship Fund.

I had the good fortune to run into Mike Dicken, class of 1975, at the stadium on Thursday morning as he and I were both getting in some laps before it became too hot, and already there were workers there setting things up for Saturday’s big day. It’s been an amazing thing to see the hundreds of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make this day, and tonight’s events downtown, possible, with the committee expecting thousands of Fort Hill graduates to take part. By tomorrow morning, the stadium and the school will have been turned into a virtual village, which, in essence, is what Fort Hill has always been to begin with.

Dicken played football and ran track for Fort Hill, having been one of the starting shortbacks on the school’s first Maryland state playoff football team in 1974. Currently Carl Michael Dicken, Ph.D., who grew up on Maryland Avenue playing sports at Rolling Mill, is Headmaster at Veritas Classical Christian School in Richmond, Va., and is the first to say all he’s been able to accomplish in life has been the direct result of the four years he spent as a student at Fort Hill.

Dicken, of course, is far from being alone with these feelings. Mark Griffin, for instance, class of 1973, who played football and basketball at Fort Hill, contributed a five-figure donation to the scholarship fund, which was, as of late June, the largest contribution the foundation had received.

Griffin, who went about 6-foot-5, 200 pounds in the day and was known as “The Mad Stork,” a la Ted Hendricks, was a two-way end for the Sentinels and started on a couple of great basketball teams, including the 1973 team that played in the state championship game. Along with Allegany High School’s Kirt Wilson, Griffin accepted a football scholarship to the University of North Carolina where he was a starting offensive tackle for coach Bill Dooley. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the eighth round of the 1977 NFL draft before signing as a free agent with the Washington Redskins.

Currently the CEO and owner of Blue Eagle Consulting Inc. of Birmingham, Ala., Griffin learned of the Fort Hill Scholarship Fund from classmate Jane (Brown) Pannone and made his donation.

“It just seemed liked the right thing to do,” Griffin told board member Brenda Smith. “I have good memories of Fort Hill, and Cumberland was a great place to grow up. The concept of being in a position to make a difference, to offer the college opportunity to a student who might otherwise not have the financial means to advance their education and then to do so within the Fort Hill community, is a triple play in my mind.”

So many stories such as Dicken’s and Griffin’s will come to light and be on display this weekend as thousands of loyal sons and daughters of Fort Hill High School, from 1937 to 2012, come together for one helluva birthday party and to make good on their pledge of serving their high school well.

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at

Text Only
Mike Burke - Sports
  • Peanuts and Cracker Jack beat any foam finger

    Times have changed, and for the better, as this week marks the third year in a row NFL training camps have opened and have not taken center stage in the cities of Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington. That, of course, is due to the play of the three baseball teams that inhabit said cities, the Orioles, the Pirates and the Nationals — two of whom hold first place in their respective divisions, with the other one entering play on Wednesday just 2 1/2 games out of first.

    July 23, 2014

  • Opposition and inclusion understood

    Those of you who have been here before know how I feel about the late great Len Bias, who I will remember foremost as Leonard Bias, the polite, spindly Bambi-eyed kid from Hyattsville’s Northwestern High School, who could throw a dunk through the floor, yet had the most beautiful jump shot I have ever seen.

    July 17, 2014

  • Further proof you should never bet on baseball

    Had you known in March that ...

    July 16, 2014

  • What have we learned this past month?

    Some serious soccer withdrawal is on the horizon for disciples of the Beautiful Game as the month of mania concludes Sunday with the World Cup final. Germany and Argentina, I believe?

    July 11, 2014

  • A man of the Midwest, of Cumberland, and a friend

    His obituary was neither extravagant nor trumpeting. Yet it was a fitting tribute to the man and the life he lived. It was succinct yet sincere. Like the man, it was gracious and understated, and it was filled with love and with warmth, and all of the names of his family and the things in his life that made him memorable.

    July 9, 2014

  • Reign of the entire planet is at stake

    I’ve given up my LeBron Hate. Don’t misunderstand, I have no LeBron Love or even LeBron Like. It’s more like LeBron Lethargy, although that’s probably too strong of a way to describe my indifference because, while I never root for his teams, it’s impossible to take your eyes off him when he’s playing.

    June 15, 2014

  • This German is one ugly American

    Our soccer friends are beside themselves because the World Cup began yesterday. Look to a watering hole near you for a large collection of soccer enthusiasts when the United States plays its first game (match?) Monday against Ghana.

    June 12, 2014

  • Terps look to the West, like what they see

    What a perfectly strange and wonderful weekend it was for area high school football, and we’re just a third of the way through June. Not strange in a negative way, mind you, but strange as in, boy, this doesn’t happen too often around here any more, much less twice in the same weekend.

    June 11, 2014

  • In the know are these Go-Go O’s

    They are a team that led the American League in home runs last season with 45 more than the league average. Then they add a player who currently leads the majors in homers and is on a pace to hit 58 for the season. They are third in the American League in batting average and sixth in slugging percentage. Yet they are 13th in runs scored because they believe in the double steal and try to steal home with a 53-home run hitter at the plate with two outs in extra innings. They continue to have a hitter who delivered 51 doubles last year put down sacrifice bunts, and they employ a third-base coach who is under the impression his job is to collect tolls on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge ...

    June 8, 2014

  • MIKE BURKE Ryan, we hardly knew ye ... at least at third base

    The best defensive third basemen I’ve been lucky to see play are (in no particular order after Brooks) Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Ron Santo, Graig Nettles, Adrian Beltre, Manny Machado and Ryan Zimmerman.

    June 5, 2014 1 Photo