Glenelg Country finds success in goal with two-pronged approach

Glenelg Country School coach Jessica McAdams calls it the perfect storm.

While most teams are lucky just to have one capable goalkeeper, McAdams' Dragons boast two of them on their roster this fall.

"I'm lucky to have two outstanding goalkeepers. But I'm even luckier to have two outstanding keepers that have a mutual respect for each other and for the game," McAdams said. "That's the biggest treasure to me and this season will truly be one that I will never forget."

Sarah Bates and Kelly Johnson, the two goalies for Glenelg Country, each have a lengthy and impressive resume.

Bates is a two-time selection for the Futures Elite program, marking her as one of the best in the nation and a potential Olympian. She participated in the AAU Junior Olympics in 2010 and has also participated in the National Futures Championship for the last four years.

Johnson, a junior, is also a standout. Her middle-school team needed a goalie and she thought, "Why not?" That try-anything attitude made her a quick learner.

Last year Johnson was selected to the 2012 Futures Championship, Junior Olympics and Futures National Camp where she was chosen as a member of the 2012-2013 U-17 National Team. She is also a 2013 Futures Elite player.

Bates started playing field hockey in first grade at Mater Amoris Montessori School in Ashton. After three years of field play, she traded her shin guards for goalie pads.

"I didn't like running," she explained.

While nearly a decade of experience has given her an edge technically, it's her passion and respect for the sport that makes her a superb athlete.

Starting since her freshman year, she helped lead Glenelg Country to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference championship game in 2009 and again in 2010. In that second title game, the Dragons emerged as champions.

In her early years at Glenelg Country and since she started playing for her club team, the Washington Wolves, Bates never had to share time. She had always been the only goalie on the team; that is, until Johnson entered the picture.

The Glenelg Country coaching staff really saw Johnson develop during her freshman year and they knew how much time she was putting in outside of school playing club field hockey for Spitfire (now Freedom HKY).

Discussing every step of the process with both players, it was decided to leave Johnson at the JV level for her sophomore season last fall. But this year, the time share became necessary.

And so far, after a small adjustment period, things have gone even better than anticipated.

"There have been people that I've had to compete with that I haven't gotten along with and I didn't expect to get as close with Kelly as I have," Bates said. "I didn't know how I'd handle having to compete [for playing time]. I'm glad I've gotten to share this experience with her."

Johnson acknowledges that playing with Bates has done wonders for her game.

"The kind of competition between us, it makes you better. We are constantly encouraging and learning from each other," Johnson said.

A little friendly competition appears to be going a long way.

With stability in net, Glenelg Country has compiled a 3-3 record in IAAM B Conference play and 4-5 record overall thus far. In those nine games, opponents have scored only a combined 12 goals.

"We both have the same mentality: that you have to earn your position," Bates said. "We encourage each other, but we also compete with each other."

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