Filmmaker's career started with videos of backyard football

Chris Haugh's video career started in the backyard of his Fredrick home as a child as he and friends built neighborhood football and baseball fields to play. With a small camcorder he and friends video taped much of their sports action. Haugh, now 46, is the Scenic Byways and special projects manager with the Tourism Council of Frederick County. Haugh and the Tourism Council, in partnership with Maryland Public Television, recently won a local Emmy award for their film, “Heart of the Civil War.” Staff photo by Bill Green

For Chris Haugh, it all began in the 1980s, in a backyard on Stonehouse Road.

Like many boys, Haugh grew up playing sports in his neighborhood, about 6 miles northwest of Frederick, but he didn’t get to play in sports leagues as a kid.

“At the time, Frederick didn’t have all the youth leagues that it does today," he said. "I could never make it into town to play."

So the avid sports fan had to make his own fun.

Haugh gathered the money he made from household chores and began to build his own sports complex, right in his backyard. With the approval of his father, neighborhood friends pitched in to help put it together.

“I bought fencing for our baseball field, and we lined our football field with crushed limestone,” he said. “And when we got enough money together, we put up the lights.”

Soon “Haugh Field,” as it came to be known, saw games several times a week, as neighbors and friends flocked to play rough-and-tumble games of tackle football.  

A Christmas gift from his grandmother, a video camera capable of recording to videocassette, meant that starting in 1983, Haugh and friends could film their games.

“At first we just messed around with the camera, but later we built a 12-foot tower where we could catch all the action,” Haugh said. “It was pretty crazy.”

The neighborhood kids went to high school and college, then began taking jobs in the Frederick area, but the games continued for more than three decades with a steady supply of new players.

The filming never stopped either, and Haugh has saved nearly every tape.

“We made season reviews and highlight films. We have them all,” he recalled with a smile.

Haugh’s longtime friend Mike Stashik also remembers those days fondly.

“Playing tackle backyard football for almost three decades at Haugh Field are some of my favorite childhood memories,” he said.

Stashik, now director of productions for the Baltimore Orioles, credits those early backyard games with getting him started.

“Working on the production of Haugh Field football definitely fueled my passion for the video production business,” he said.

The camera bug stuck with Haugh as well. Through pursuing a career in radio and with local cable television, he found his calling in documentary filmmaking.

Now 46, Haugh works as scenic byway and special projects manager with the Tourism Council of Frederick County, which, in partnership with Maryland Public Television, recently won a local Emmy award for the film “Heart of the Civil War.”

When Haugh isn’t working on projects for local tourism or his genealogy, he helps coach a youth flag football team.

“I am teaching these kids plays we used to draw in my backyard years ago,” he said. "It’s incredible how it has come full circle."

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