February 1, 2012
The Howard County Women's Athletics Hall of Fame was established in 1997. Tara Everly, Joan Lovelace, Erica McCauley, Alisha Mosley and Elise Ray join the 59 men and women who have previously been inducted.
Everly was a three-sport athlete at Oakland Mills, and, in college, scored the penalty stroke that gave the University of Maryland the 1993 field hockey national championship.
Lovelace, a Howard High graduate, was the first girl in the county to play golf on a high school boys team. She's now head professional and general manager of the Hobbit's Glen and Fairway Hills golf clubs.
McCauley and Mosley were both point guards at Mt. Hebron where their careers overlapped. "I considered Alisha my little sister," McCauley said. Both were record-setters and each is a two-time Player of the Year in girls basketball.
Wilde Lake's Ray was an international-caliber gymnast. She was a member of the 2000 United States Olympic team which eventually received bronze medals for the team all-around competition at the Sydney Olympics.
The induction ceremony will be held Saturday, Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. at Mt. Hebron High School. An alumnae basketball game starts at 4:45 p.m. and a high school girls varsity game (River Hill vs. Mt. Hebron) follows at 7. Admission will be charged.
Growing up, it was never a question of if, only what.
Those close to Tara Everly, who had watched her excel as a multi-sport athlete since she was eight years old, knew the opportunities to excel in high school and beyond were going to be there.
The fact that it would be field hockey in which she'd make the biggest name for herself, though, that was a little harder to predict.
Prior to reaching Oakland Mills in 1986, Everly had never picked up a field hockey stick and had spent the previous six fall seasons on the soccer field. But, after some serious contemplation, she made a decision that changed the rest of her life.
"I remember before my freshman year it was thrown out there and I was like, 'Why not, let's try it,' " Everly said. "Back then there wasn't really anywhere to play (field hockey) before high school, so almost everyone was starting from scratch."
With her raw athleticism, Everly picked things up quickly and made the Scorpions' varsity team that first season. From that point on, the sky was the limit.
She developed into one of the county and state's best players over the next four years, winning county Player of the Year honors as a senior after leading the Scorpions to the program's only state championship game.
"As great of a player as she became, she was just as strong as a leader," said Chris Marsiglia, who coached Everly on varsity her final two years at Oakland Mills. "She inspired all of the girls around her with the way she played and carried herself."
Everly's efforts helped her earn high school All-American honors and a scholarship to the University of Maryland, where as a senior in 1993 she helped the Terrapins win the program's second NCAA Championship. To put a cherry on top, Everly was responsible for the game-winning penalty stroke in overtime in the title contest against North Carolina.
"Tara was the kind of natural athlete that you don't see very often and that really allowed her to excel in a number of different roles for us," said Maryland coach Missy Meharg, who has guided the Terrapin program to seven national titles in her 24 years at the school. "That was a special group (that won the championship) and Tara was a big part of it."
Getting to that point on a national stage was the result of years of work, building from that moment she first started playing SAC soccer for the Stevens Forest nieghborhood team when she was eight. With her older brother, David, already playing and excelling in multiple sports at the time, it seemed almost inevitable that she would follow suit.
"I was a very shy kid and I remember I really didn't want to play, but it was one of those things where my dad always said I had to try something before I decided I didn't like it," Everly said.
It turns out Everly's father, Fred, was right. She enjoyed that initial season of soccer, then signed up for basketball in the winter and softball the following spring. Over the following few years, playing the trio of sports became routine.
"I enjoyed the variety, getting to move from one sport to the next," she said.
When high school came around, she switched to field hockey in the fall, but kept playing basketball and softball. She made varsity in all three sports as a freshman.
With her experience on the hardwood and on the diamond, making those varsity teams was significant, but not necessarily shocking. Field hockey, however, was another story.
"Having never played before and still making varsity, that was kind of eye opening," Everly said. "Then to be starting on top of that … that was a big confidence booster."
Marsiglia, who was coaching the JV field hockey squad at the time, says Everly's athleticism transferred right away.
"She was tenacious. What she may have lacked initially in skill, she more than made up for it in other areas," Marsiglia said.
To continually build her field hockey skills as high school went on, Everly participated in camps in conjunction with the Olympic Developmental Program and played locally with older players on the weekends. By her junior year, it was becoming obvious there were going to be potential college opportunities.
But that didn't stop her from continuing to play the other sports. She developed into one of the Scorpions' best players on the basketball team and was a multiple time all-county shortstop in softball.
"My dad was always a big advocate of not putting all your eggs in one basket," Everly said. "Even my brother, who knew pretty early that he was probably going to play baseball in college, also played soccer, football and basketball at Oakland Mills."
Her senior year in field hockey, Everly finished as the county's second-leading scorer with 10 goals and three assists. She helped Oakland Mills to a county title, a 13-1-2 overall record and an appearance in the state finals. Although, the Scorpions lost the game, 3-2, Everly did register a goal and an assist in the championship.
A few months later, she was named to the All-American team. That recognition led to some big-time Division I offers, including her eventual college of choice, the University of Maryland.
"It was a dream come true to play at that level, especially getting to do it close to home," Everly said.
After having seen her brother go to Michigan to play baseball and the family being unable to watch him play regularly, Everly says she put a lot of emphasis on staying local.
Her parents, Fred and Jane, had watched all but two or three of her games in high school between all three sports and that support was extremely important to her. Even today, as she serves as field hockey coach at St. Mary's Ryken high school, they make a point of coming out to games.
"They've always been in my corner … it's hard to explain how much that means," Everly said.
Her first two years at Maryland, Everly's playing time was limited as she tried to establish her role. Instead of having a defined position, she served as a utility player.
"I remember sophomore year, they had me everywhere but goalie at one point or another," she said. "It was one of those things, though, where I was willing to do whatever if it meant getting to be on the field."
Everly played a more prominent role in her junior year, primarily on defense before finally settling into a left wing position as a senior. And just as she found her home on the field before that 1993 campaign, Maryland got itself ready to embark on its own season to remember.
Putting together the first 20-win season since Meharg took over at Maryland in 1988, the Terrapins rolled all the way into the NCAA title game against North Carolina.
It was there, after an evenly played contest, that Everly got her piece of history. With the game tied, it went to penalty stokes and as Maryland's third shooter, Everly stepped up with a chance to clinch the championship.
She calmly converted the shot and then turned and celebrated with her teammates.
"It was a such a rush. You literally feel like you are on top of the world," Everly said. "You can't buy that feeling."
In the years since, Everly has done a lot of traveling. She's spent time living in North Carolina, Florida and California before returning to Maryland.
And since she's been back, Everly has gotten back to her athletic roots. Over the last seven years, she's coached field hockey, basketball and softball, each for at least one season, at St. Mary's Ryken in Southern Maryland.
"Athletics are a part of who I am. You can separate yourself from it, but at the end of the day there's going to be a part of you that really misses it all," Everly said. "I'm so thankful for all the opportunities I've had through sports. It's helped define my life."
Joan Lovelace remembers the encouraging words well.
So much so that she says, to this day, there are times she'll replay them back in her head.
"From the time I was very young my dad would always tell me that 'life is going to bring you challenges, but you can't be afraid to face them and go after what you want,' " Lovelace said. "He would say, 'You can't know whether or not you can do something until you try it.' "
Perhaps that's why through the years Lovelace has never been one for strictly adhering to typical societal conventions.
In the 1970s, as a student at Howard High School, she became the county's first female to play a boys' varsity sport when she joined the golf team as a freshman. She went on to become the team's top player by her senior year.
Later, after years serving as an apprentice at Hobbit's Glen, she took over as the first professional at Columbia's Fairway Hills golf club when it opened in 1995. To go with that, Lovelace worked toward becoming a member of the Professional Golfers Association, something she achieved in 2001. Typically women will only work toward being a member of the LPGA, which she accomplished in 1994.
Then, a little more than six years ago, Lovelace again broke the mold by becoming head professional and general manager of Hobbit's Glen and Fairway Hills. She is currently one of only two female professionals statewide to hold such a position.
"There were definitely times over the years when I got discouraged, but I never lost my passion," Lovelace said. "I knew pretty early, this is what I wanted to do with my life."
Lovelace was first introduced to the game of golf in middle school. She would go out on the course with her father, John, for his morning round and serve as a forecaddie for the group.
"I was in charge of watching where everyone's balls went," she said.
One day at Hobbit's Glen when she was 11 or 12, Lovelace remembers her dad asking if she wanted to hit a shot. The rest, as they say, is history.
"He put a 4-iron in my hand and I remember hitting it further than one of his buddies that had hit a driver."
Lovelace began playing regularly, mostly with her dad and mother, Joann. When high school rolled around, she had developed a fairly solid all-around game.
Yet, as Lovelace recalls, she had no initial intentions of trying out for Howard's varsity squad.
"I remember discussing it before high school and at the time saying, 'No,' " she said. "But coach (Frank) Lupashunski contacted me and encouraged me to come out. He took me under his wing."
Lupashunski, the man responsible for getting Howard's golf program off the ground in the 1950s, says he didn't think twice about adding Lovelace even though there were no other girls playing in the county.
"To be honest, I didn't really think about her being the first one," he said. "She was a very good player and, in my estimation, a great addition. And if I remember correctly, there wasn't anyone at the time opposed to it."
Lovelace quickly established herself as one of the team's top few players and word got around pretty quickly that she was more than capable of holding her own in matches.
By the time she reached her senior year, Lovelace was playing as the Lions' top golfer and winning regularly.
"I think the boys were a little embarrassed at times that a girl was playing better than them, especially when they were supposed to be their team's top guy," Lupashunski said. "But I tell you what, she was awfully good."
In addition to golf, Lovelace also excelled on the tennis court in high school. She earned three varsity letters and won the mixed doubles county championship in 1977.
After graduating from Howard, she attended Catonsville Community College pursuing a major in recreation and parks. But still not exactly sure what she wanted to do with her life, she also began working at Hobbit's Glen under Hank Majewski.
It was during her time with Majewski, who has since been selected as a member of the Middle Atlantic PGA Hall of Fame, that Lovelace realized that she was destined for a future in the golf business.
But to get to her ultimate goals, she had to overcome some hurdles. When Lovelace was initially thinking of getting into the PGA program, she wasn't exactly greeted with open arms.
"Honestly, I did not feel welcome at all," she said. "I would go to these meetings and I would stick out like a sore thumb."
So she instead decided to shift her focus at the time to getting into the LPGA program. After years of tests and studying, she became a member in 1994.
It was a year later, when Fairway Hills was opening up that she got her big break.
"I saw that as a terrific opportunity, getting to go over there as the course's first professional and get things going," Lovelace said.
To feel secure that she would be able to hold onto the position, though, Lovelace knew she would have to once again start working toward becoming a PGA member.
In 1998, on her first try and as the only female playing, she passed her 36-hole Player Ability Test. That got her going on her way toward the PGA Professional Golf Management Program and eventually securing PGA membership in 2001.
Later in 2005, after long-time Hobbit's Glen PGA golf pro Gene Ward retired, Lovelace was selected to be general manager of both of Columbia's courses, Hobbit's and Fairway Hills.
In the six years since taking over, Lovelace has made an impact on the local golf scene that stretches beyond the two courses' full annual members. Introducing kids in the county to the game, particularly girls, has been high on the priority list.
That's why, as the county's public schools reinstituted golf as a varsity sport in 2005 and then added girls golf in 2009, Lovelace has done everything she can to accommodate the teams and players.
Some years that's meant having as many as three schools using Hobbit's or Fairway Hills as their home course.
"She's made sure that both courses have been as available as possible and has accommodated pretty much every special request we've made," said Mike Williams, the county's high school coordinator of athletics. "We've come a long way with our golf program in a short period of time and there's no way we could have done what we have without people like Joan.
"Bottom line, she cares about making things work for the kids."
At the end of the day, for Lovelace, who's lived in Howard County her whole life, providing opportunities for the community's next generation is one of the reasons why she got into the business in the first place.
"Golf has played such a big role in my life, I'm just happy I get to teach it and share it with other people," Lovelace said. "It's kind of funny to think how things have evolved from back in those days when I was just that little girl out there at Hobbit's caddying for my dad."
Until she was well into college, basketball was the focal point of Erica McCauley's life.
"I grew up in a family where that's what we did. We'd watch TV and sit down and analyze the game. We talked sports all the time," she said.
McCauley started dribbling a ball in her basement when she was 3. Her older sister, Christy, was right beside her, also shooting at the 5-foot-tall rim their father had installed.
"That's how we would entertain ourselves," McCauley said.
Competitively, they fed off each other, each encouraging, but also trying to out do, the other.
Their father, Jim, realized that the offerings for recreational girls basketball in Howard County were slim, so he approached the Columbia Basketball Association and volunteered to start a clinic for 5-7 year-old girls. Christy was 6; Erica was 4 and she got to tag along.
That was the beginning of many weekends in the gym.
First it was for rec ball, where they played, kept score and officiated; then travel teams and AAU national tournaments, including a trip with the first Howard County AAU team to go to the national tournament.
The 1990 Baltimore AAU team that McCauley started on finished third in the nation.
"I was a gym rat," she said. "I cannot study unless there is noise, that's because I grew up doing homework in a gym when we had four games on a weekend."
Homes were accommodated for basketball. The first house had the empty basement. At the next one, in Kings Contrivance, the McCauleys petitioned the Columbia Association to let them install an outdoor basketball hoop. The prerequisite for the house in the Mt. Hebron district was that it had to have a 3-point arc on the driveway.
"We had to have the driveway redone," McCauley said.
The 3-point shot was just coming into play at the high school level and it was destined to be McCauley's shot.
"The timing of when I came to high school and the timing of them adding the three-point line helped me be successful. It opened up the court. It allowed smaller shooters to do well," said the 5-foot-1 (and a smidgen) point guard, who graduated as the county's best career three-point shooter (182 made).
McCauley missed much of her freshman year of high school with a back injury. After Mt. Hebron senior point guard Amy Eberhart tore her ACL in the playoffs, the freshman got her first start in the 1990 state championship game against Middletown. The defending champions' fans hooted "this isn't the JV game" when she took the court.
"Erica hit two three-pointers in the first quarter and the rout was on," said Dave Greenberg, Mt. Hebron's coach at the time.
The Vikings won the Class 2A state title game, 59-35.
With McCauley starting full time, Mt. Hebron repeated as state champion in 1991.
"Erica was the very essence of a point guard," Greenberg said. "She was very smart, understood the game and she had the skills. It was like having a coach on the floor."
McCauley could handle the ball and dribble with her head up.
"We never had to worry about being pressured and that's a humongous advantage. We just had to get the ball to her," Greenberg said. "And if they would go man (defense) and pressure her, it was like giving us an advantage."
Mt. Hebron went 88-10 during McCauley's years on the team. The Vikings won four county championships, two state championships, the IAABO Holiday Tournament her junior year and the Madison (Va.) Warhawks Tournament her senior year. She was named MVP of both tournaments.
She was named Howard County girls basketball co-Player of the Year in 1991 and 1993. She was also a three-time Baltimore Sun All-Met first team pick, and twice an All-Metro first team pick by the Washington Post.
In addition to her three-point shooting, she finished high school ranked as Mt. Hebron's third all-time scorer (1,074 points), second all-time in assists (319) and third all-time in steals (339).
When she graduated, her jersey (No. 34) was retired.
Her basketball prowess and her academic skills combined to open the door to the Ivy League.
"My father always told me that he wanted basketball to get me the best education possible."
She chose the University of Pennsylvania. "There (were) people there who were brilliant. I was a little intimidated by the academics, but I did fine. I'm a hard worker."
She was the first off the bench her freshman year at Penn. By her sophomore year, she had a starting position and was All Ivy honorable mention. She also broke her hand and sustained a concussion.
Midway through her junior year, McCauley knew she was at an academic crossroad, and she decided to pursue her hopes of getting into graduate school.
"When basketball is the biggest part of your life, it is very challenging not to have it," she said. "My biggest coping strategy had always been to go out and shoot and play. I had to learn who I was without basketball."
McCauley studied communications and business at Penn, but at her sister's urging, she decided to go into speech language pathology and now has a master's degree from San Diego State University in that subject.
She works for the Anne Arundel County Infant and Toddler's Program as a speech-language pathologist.
Her basketball background helps her in her job. "Knowing the big picture, not getting too focused on details, but stepping back and making a plan" are skills that transfer to when she is evaluating a client, she said.
She's also found time to give back to basketball. After helping with Mt. Hebron's off-season leagues, McCauley followed Scott Robinson when he took the head coaching position at Howard High School. She is an assistant coach for the Lions.
Alisha Mosley has a string of accolades that follow her like a long tail on a kite.
Two-time Howard County girls basketball Player of the Year, 11 school records while she was at Mt. Hebron, two-time team MVP, Player of the Week, All-Met, All-Metro, a 1,000-point scorer and the 1996 leading scorer in the state (28.4 points per game).
Her first year in college at Wake Forest, she was on the ACC women's basketball all-freshman team and rookie of the week. By the time she graduated in 2000 she was team MVP, ACC honorable mention and well-placed in the Demon Deacons' all-time career rankings for three-point shots (third), free-throw percentage (eighth), assists (10th) and scoring (16th). She was also the winner of the Robin Roberts WBCA Sports Communication Scholarship.
But none of those things compare to this — survivor.
Already diagnosed with dermatomyositis, an inflammatory muscle disease, two years ago and without warning Mosley developed double pneumonia and both of her lungs collapsed. Too sick for treatment at Howard County General, she was flown to Johns Hopkins where she spent two and a half months in an induced coma, clinging to life.
She received a tracheotomy, her kidneys collapsed and her heart stopped.
"They were about to put the paddles on me, when my mom started screaming. I think that started my heart again," Mosley said.
She was in Hopkins' Medical Intensive Care Unit.
"It's so lonely being in MICU; it's horrible because once you are there, they don't think you are going to make it. Every day someone would die."
Mosley said she went into a coma around Thanksgiving seeing her mother crying and when she woke up from the coma her mother was crying and it was February.
"I had no clue what happened to me."
She lost 20-25 percent of function in each lung and she had to learn how to walk and talk again.
"It was a humbling experience. …My recovery was remarkable. I'm pretty much back to full strength," she said.
The episode "makes me value my family, my relationships and my life friendships more. You really see who your true friends are, and they were there for my mom."
Being an athlete helped her meet the challenges of rehabilitation.
When she was in the hospital, because of the tracheotomy, she could only mouth words and she got frustrated when she couldn't make herself understood. So her mother got a dry-erase board.
"I stayed up all night practicing my writing. I had that desire."
It was that desire that propelled Mosley through her basketball playing career.
She made Mt. Hebron's varsity as a freshman, but it was a culture shock.
"My AAU teammates were stars their freshman year at other schools and I was barely able to get off the bench," she said. Mosley was the back-up for senior Erica McCauley, who took her under her wing.
"I thought of her as my little sister," McCauley said.
"I learned a lot from Erica," Mosley said.
Mosley's first two years at Mt. Hebron, she played for Dave Greenberg.
"Alisha's a great kid. She is exuberant and has a passion for the game," Greenberg said. "She loved basketball and watched it all the time. She came in with a lot of skills."
When Greenberg transferred to coach at Centennial, Pat Becker took his place.
"He bailed on me," Mosley said. "But everything happens for a reason. It probably made me a better player. He was a good X's andO'scoach and taught me my fundamentals, and Pat Becker just let me go."
Mosley had the ability to take the ball to the basket by weaving through the smallest opening in the defense.
"I can't remember any single player who can dominate like she can," said Howard coach Craig O'Connell in Mosley's 1996 Player of the Year story.
"A big money player can't be stopped," Becker said in the same article.
And Mosley wasn't. She scored 30 points (or more) on 10 occasions her senior year.
There's a story behind how Mt. Hebron retired her jersey. It wasn't the number she wore as a freshman.
"I got my number (11) from Christy McCauley (Erica's older sister). She told me to retire her number," Mosley said. "I thought, whatever, I'll never get my jersey retired at Hebron. But they saw in me what I didn't see in myself. Those two were amazing mentors."
After high school, Mosley went to Wake Forest with the thought of becoming a doctor. "That didn't happen after freshman biology," she said. So she switched to communication and did an internship with Fox Sports Net in Atlanta, once she graduated from college.
In Atlanta, she had the opportunity to play semi-pro basketball with the Atlanta Justice, which belonged to the National Women's Basketball League.
"It was fun; I got paid to play basketball," she said. "I was supposed to go overseas to play, but it never happened. I'm a homebody."
She's still close to home. Mosley is in her second stint as assistant coach at Loyola University. She has been the Greyhounds' recruiting coordinator the last three years.
"It's fun and you get to travel a lot, evaluate talent and try to make Loyola better," she said. "One of the major reasons I decided to get into the coaching profession is that I decided I hadn't given enough to basketball yet."
Plus, Mosley said, "My greatest pleasure is coaching, teaching and inspiring young ladies to be their best in everything they do."
No one would ever mistake Columbia for a hotbed of world class gymnastics, but thanks to 2000 Wilde Lake High School graduate Elise Ray, Columbia can always proudly call itself the town that produced a world class gymnast.
"I wasn't a high school athlete (because gymnastics was not a varsity sport when Ray was at Wilde Lake) but it didn't make a difference to them," said Ray, who was born in Florida but moved to Columbia at a young age. "(The community) was just so supportive. Going to public school was a huge priority for me and my family, and they worked with me."
Whether it meant allowing her to miss classes to commute to and from her training facility in Gaithersburg, showing flexibility with making up work, or just sharing congratulatory words upon her return from a successful international competition, Ray is grateful for the community support she received in Columbia, and still counts that as an integral part of the realization of her Olympic dream.
As a 2000 Olympian in Sydney, Ray remains a fan favorite and one of the most memorable members of the U.S. team that was awarded team bronze medals in 2010 when it was discovered that the Chinese team had falsified the age of one of its competitors at the Sydney Games.
Unfortunately for Ray, that was not the only scandal that stained the 2000 Summer Games.
After officials inexplicably set the vault two inches low, Ray — along with many other gymnasts — fell twice off of the improperly set apparatus.
The vault was eventually corrected, and Ray stuck her landing en route to a 13th place finish in the all-around, best of any American.
"I didn't know what was wrong," Ray told the New York Times in 2000. "It looked low to me, but I thought it was my nerves. Definitely falling on your first event shoots your confidence way down. That was the toughest part, just to keep going."
A stable coaching staff might have eased its gymnasts through the stormy situation, but...
U.S. team coordinator Bela Karolyi earned a reputation during the 2000 Games as an overbearing drill sergeant, and he feuded openly with gymnasts and fellow U.S. coaches alike.
But gymnasts are trained to persist through adversity with a bright smile on their face, and that's exactly what Ray did.
After Sydney, Ray found a return to normalcy at the University of Michigan, where she studied English and thrived as a 14-time NCAA All-American and three-time NCAA national champion, becoming the most decorated female gymnast in the history of the school.
After graduating in 2005, Ray eventually took a job performing with the Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. After several years living in Las Vegas, she came back to Maryland to be closer to her family (parents Ellen and Bill and brother Taylor) and coached at the Carroll Gymnastics Center in Hampstead until recently.
The fall of 2011 was a memorable time for Ray, who was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in late August and was hired as an assistant coach at the University of Washington in late September.
Washington head coach Joanne Bowers coached Ray at Michigan.
"She has just been fantastic which doesn't surprise me in the least, with the dedication and focus she had when she was at Michigan," Bowers said. "She has been through so many different things at the highest level so the girls gave her their undivided attention right away … I'm just thrilled that she's here and that I'm getting to work with her."
Ray now lives in Seattle and continues to coach younger gymnasts at summer camps.
While she has done some work as a color commentator for the Big 10 Network and has expressed interest in becoming a writer, Ray clearly has found her calling in coaching.
"I'd been thinking about coaching in college and the timing couldn't have been more perfect," said Ray, who helped lead Washington to an upset of No. 1 UCLA on Jan. 27. "It's very, very different. I've learned a lot technically already. (College gymnasts) very much want to keep learning but they know their bodies and they know themselves."
And while the Olympic Games in Sydney was the tumultuous culmination of a dream realized, Ray looks at winning the National Championship in St. Louis, which qualified her for the Olympic team, as the pinnacle of her athletic career.
"I had done a ton of mental preparation. I was going to make (the Olympic) team and nothing was going to stand in my way," said Ray, who compared the feeling to how Michael Jordan must have felt on his best nights. "Everything just aligned and everything felt effortless. I can say that I never had that feeling up until then and I've never had it since."