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Elwoods are a family that plays together

December 01, 1996

By BOB PARASILITI

Staff Writer

CLEAR SPRING - When you want to talk to an Elwood on Clear Spring's Mason Dixon Adult Soccer League team, it's best to be specific.

There's Craig Elwood. And there's Shawn Elwood. And don't forget Wade Elwood.

"(Teammates) all kid us," Shawn Elwood said. "They ask how many more of us are there."

The Elwood brothers are strikers for the Clear Spring team, which plays Middletown today in the league tournament semifinals. They are also competitors and friends, and having a lot of fun as first-time teammates.

The Elwoods are spaced just far enough apart that they could never be teammates in high school. Craig is 28, Shawn is 25 and Wade is 22. On top of that, Craig attended Clear Spring, Shawn went to Heritage Academy and Wade went to both.

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Adult league soccer players often have their playing careers stopped by age and family commitments, so the chance to play together, and possibly win a league championship, is something the brothers take quite seriously.

"It's a lot of fun playing with Craig and Wade," Shawn said. "Winning this title would mean a lot because I wish we had the opportunity to play in high school together. But now, there is that sense of urgency. I think everyone knows that for Craig and our goalie, Paul Bryan, this might be the last time they play."

If it weren't for his younger brothers, Craig Elwood might have hung up his cleats and shinguards long ago. A dairy farmer by trade, Craig Elwood has played in the Mason Dixon League for nearly a decade, starting with Williamsport before Clear Spring entered the league. Not even a bad break could stunt Craig Elwood's love for the game.

"I had the desire to play and wanted to keep playing," Craig said. "I broke my ankle in 1992 and thought about quitting, but couldn't stop playing. Then my brothers came along and Clear Spring got a team. If it weren't for them and the local team, I don't think I'd keep up with it if I had to travel somewhere else to play."

Clear Spring is unique to the Mason Dixon League - every player on the roster is from the town, whereas other teams must recruit out-of-town players to fill rosters. And homegrown Clear Spring appreciates Craig Elwood's dedication.

"I think he is the catalyst of our team," Shawn said. "He's a good athlete, but he has so many more important things in his life now than soccer with farming, his wife and baby. Being able to play says a lot. I don't think we'd be where we are without him."

Craig and Wade Elwood have seven goals apiece and Shawn has six. But Craig takes more pride in his five assists.

"I enjoy assists more than scoring myself," Craig said. "Passing is the mental part of the game. I try to use my head more than my body now. I like being big brother, showing them the right way."

The Elwoods' brotherly bond made the right way easy to find. Each watched the others play in school. Memory was a valuable asset when they became Mason Dixon teammates.

"It started out different," Wade said. "I started playing three years ago with Shawn, but once Craig joined us, it was easy.

"The biggest part of scoring is knowing where everyone is going to be so once you get the ball, all you have to do is turn and deliver. Craig wants to pass and knows were everyone will be. Shawn gets the pass and he's a finisher. But the best part is our teamwork."

Family gatherings become a soccer forum for the Elwoods. But instead of engaging in taunts and one-upmanship, they talk strategy. Conversation usually centers on winning this title.

"We always talk about soccer," Wade said. "We talk about how we started last year 0-5 and we started this year 4-0. All of a sudden, we're having a great year. Last year was really bad, but this year, everyone wants to play."

"When we played in high school, we weren't big, but we won with a lot of heart," Shawn said. "It means a lot for this whole team to win this whole thing because we have a whole lot of heart."

And imagine what the dinner table conversation would be like should Clear Spring win its next two games.

"Ever since I was in high school, I wanted to win a championship," Wade said. "That one year in high school, we lost in the state finals. I still want to win one. It would be great to win this one, especially with my brothers."

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