Each time the Baltimore Blast scores a goal, the public address speaker offers a resounding version of “Celebration,” the Kool & The Gang classic hit song released in September 1980.
During a recent game between the Blast and their rivals, Harrisburg Heat, the song was played repeatedly, considering the Baltimore team’s rout of the Pennsylvania capital’s team, 12-5.
First-time visitors to the Blast game included 13-year-old James “JP” Townsend Jr. and his best pal, Ean McChesney, 14, joined nearly 4,000 spectators who filled the stands at the five-year-old SECU Arena on Towson University’s sprawling campus.
The new venue holds 5,200 seats and offers luxury-box amenities for private viewing, similar to major sports arenas such as M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards and Nationals Park.
Until this season, the team played at Royal Farms Arena in downtown Baltimore, but changed locations to the more modern SECU Arena in November, after signing a three-year deal to experience more modern, but smaller facilities. Royal Farms held about 11,000 spectators.
“I really enjoyed it. Very exciting stuff,” said eighth grade, home school student Townsend, who played soccer and learned game rules in elementary school.
Ean McChesney, a freshman at Milford Mill Academy in Gwynn Oak, Md., said he enjoyed watching the fast-paced game action and speed of the players.
According to Joe Moye, a Blast spokesman, the local team is a nine-time champion of the MASL (Major Arena Soccer League), which includes teams from various parts of the country, including: the Florida Tropics, Syracuse Silver Knights, Cedar Rapids Rampage, Kansas City Comets, Milwaukee Wave, St. Louis Ambush, El Paso Coyotes, Monterrey Flash, Rio Grand Valley Barracudas, Sonora Suns, Ontario Fury, San Diego Sockers, Tacoma Stars and the Turlock Express. The Blast are coming off two consecutive titles, 2016 and 2017.
While the team has a winning-athletic presence in the community, Blast team officials proudly boast that their organizational priorities include expressing community support and commitment to education among Baltimore area youths.
“We believe in our motto ‘Education is a Blast,’ said team spokesman Moye. “Our players visit local schools and discuss subjects like anti-bullying, exercise and health tips, and the value of getting good grades.”
Mike Conway, the team’s assistant general manager, mirrored Moye’s thoughts by adding, “We’re always attending local area schools helping to promote education while signing autographs.”
Deborah Phelps, director of Baltimore County Public Schools Education Foundation, is an avid supporter of Baltimore Blast’s community-based efforts.
“I’ve never seen such a cohesive team of young men who are so supportive of our schools. They come and discuss various topics that are helpful to our young people,” she said. “They support our anti-bullying campaign and promote values of staying in school.”
She also applauded team president and GM Kevin Healey for his personal commitment to his players and the community at-large. For the record, Phelps is the mother of noted Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps, also of Baltimore.
As of press-time, the Blast continues to enjoy another successful season with a 13-2 record. Their final regular season game is set for Sunday, March 4, 2018, but playoff times have not been scheduled yet, according to the team.
For more information about the Baltimore Blast, game schedules and tickets, call 410-732-5278 or visit: www.baltimoreblast.com.