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Howard County Women's Athletics Hall of Fame set to induct 2017 class

Five new members will join the ranks of the Howard County Women's Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday, Feb. 4 at Mt. Hebron High School. The Hall of Fame's first induction was 1997 and since its inception nearly 90 men and women, and one team, have been honored. The 2017 induction will take place between the girls and boys varsity basketball double-header, with the Vikings hosting Hammond. The girls game starts at 5 p.m., while the boys are set for a 7:30 p.m. tip. Admission is charged.

The Class of 2017 includes:

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Susie Gallis Picciotti, Atholton

What youngster wouldn't want to be a mascot and imitate the fun stunts another mascot is doing?

That's how Susie Gallis Picciotti, a mascot for the Pallotti High School cheerleading squad, took her first steps toward becoming a gymnast. She began by teaching herself what someone else was doing.

The cheerleading sponsor suggested that Susie's mother sign her daughter up for gymnastics due to her natural ability.

Picciotti's first lessons came through the county's recreation department and it wasn't long before she was on a gymnastics club team and traveling to AAU regional championship meets, United States Gymnastics Federation regional and state championships as well as the AAU National Junior Olympics meet.

Picciotti, a four-time outstanding female gymnast at Atholton High School, dominated the gymnastic scene. She was the Howard County all-around champion three times, won the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association's District all-around title twice and also won three state and regional all-around championships. The state and regional title was the pinnacle of high school competition at that time.

Competing in high school gave Stephanie the opportunities and confidence needed to continue her gymnastics in college. Guided by her club coach Dick Filbert, she received 36 college scholarship offers, but ultimately chose Auburn University.

At Auburn, where she earned a degree in accounting, Picciotti was named Gymnastics Athlete of the Year and Most Valuable Gymnast. She also received the Edwin J. Bengston Award in recognition of her outstanding achievements in academics, athletics and leadership.

Susie says she is proud of the values she gained through gymnastics, including competitiveness, determination and work ethic. 

Stephanie Spierman, Hammond

Speierman graduated Hammond high school as the county's most decorated softball player. The four-time Howard County Player of the Year and two-time Baltimore Sun and Washington Post Player of the Year was was feared equally as a pitcher and a batter.

She holds six state softball records, including two offensive records.

Speierman pitched a perfect game in the 2007 state final, while striking out a state tournament record 19 batters, as she led the Golden Bears to the county's first state softball title. Before Speierman went to Hammond, the school had never had a winning softball record.

Speierman's ability to throw strikes — she has a state record 1,361 career strikeouts — brought the Golden Bears to the top of the standings. Hammond won three county titles while she was there.

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She earned Under Armor All-American honors and was an ESPN Top 25 softball player. Speierman was a member of the Maryland STARS Fast pitch Travel Program for the majority of her travel career.

"That program largely shaped who I am as a person and a softball player," she said.

She then accepted a full college athletic scholarship to the University of Michigan. The Wolverines were Big 10 champions all four years she was there and advanced to the Women's College World Series in 2013.

Speierman is still actively involved in softball. She is the pitching coach and coordinator at Rockford High School in Michigan. She also gives individual pitching lessons to girls ages 7-18 and runs the Maryland STARS Summer Softball Clinic.

Speierman said she is proud of her "ability to go back and teach kids softball skills and how to enjoy playing the game."

"All the years of playing and competing were amazing … but working with the girls who dream about doing the things I have done and helping them achieve their dreams is the most rewarding part of it." 

Tammy Webster, Mt. Hebron

Most people associate Tammy Webster with her smile, but in athletics she was a fierce competitor.

Although she played volleyball and sampled lacrosse, basketball was her passion.

Webster was a four-year varsity player and an all-county selection, at a time when Mt. Hebron ruled Howard County and the state, winning three county, regional and state titles from 1987-1990.

Those Vikings' teams raised the standard of play for their opponents. Mt. Hebron's fundamental skills were well honed and their man-to-man defense was relentless.

Webster said the hard work paid off and she is proud of those state championships.

Webster is also proud of earning a full athletic scholarship to the University of Rhode Island, where she went on and became a four-year letter winner and earned a bachelor's degree in psychology.

After college, Webster continued to play basketball whenever the opportunity arose and also joined the coaching ranks. She was an assistant coach at Morgan State and Johns Hopkins University, was a head coach for four high school programs, including River Hill, and has led two AAU teams.

"Being able to teach [players] the game and how their playing experiences can help prepare them for life," she said.

Timisha Gomez, Long Reach

Gomez was the epitome of the term scholar athlete. She excelled in the field of competition and in the classroom.

Gomez's athletic career, which eventually led to a college basketball scholarship, started in club gymnastics. The floor exercise was her specialty.

However, watching her older brother play basketball attracted her to the game. Although it meant long days during the winter sports season — she juggled basketball and gymnastics until her junior year at Long Reach — she became a Level 9 gymnast. Eventually, though, she turned her attention to basketball.

Gomez added a third sport when she reached high school. She went out for outdoor track and was a hurdler, triple jumper and ran the anchor leg on the Lightning's 4x400 relay team.

If her days weren't hectic enough, she was also a member of the Long Reach wind ensemble and drum major of the marching band. Yet all the while she was able to maintain a high grade point average.

Gomez was named Player of the Year in basketball and also in outdoor track as a senior. Gomez is the all-time leading scorer for Long Reach girls basketball, and also led the Lightning to its best girls basketball record.

In track she won state titles in triple jump as a sophomore and the 300-meter hurdles as a senior. Long Reach was the county's track powerhouse at the time.

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Gomez accepted a college basketball scholarship from St. Joseph's University.

In college, she was a two-time Scholar Athlete award winner, was named MVP of her team and twice was chosen as a second-team All-Big Five selection.

According to Gomez, balancing multiple sports has helped her learn time-management skills.

"What I incorporated from that experience is to write things down and take [things] one step at a time," she said.

Brooke Kuhl-McClelland, Hammond/Mt. Hebron

Although she never played the sport, lacrosse is most associated with Brooke Kuhl-McClelland.

Her high school sports career consisted of one year of outdoor track, three years of varsity cheerleading and, later, time spent as an Orioles ball girl, but she sure knew how to coach.

Kuhl-McClelland had the right blend of organization, motivation, leadership and X's and O's to elevate Mt. Hebron's girls' lacrosse team from Howard County's top team to national prominence.

Kuhl-McClelland, who pursued dance instead of athletics in high school, was skilled in getting the most out of her players and her coaching staff.

The Vikings were No. 1 in the nation five of her nine years as head coach, and under her guidance the team strung together a record-tying 103 consecutive victories while amassing a 152-15 record.

Kuhl-McClelland is quick to credit her assistant coaches Scott Robinson, Tony Giro and Tommy McClelland for the team's success.

"I could have never done this alone," said Kuhl-McClelland, who has won numerous Coach of the Year and Teacher of the Year awards. In 2010, she was named Coach of the Decade by topofthecircle.com.

After coaching Hammond's JV team for a few years, Kuhl-McClelland, a dance educator at Hammond, became a girls lacrosse varsity assistant coach at Mt. Hebron in 2000. Two years later, she was tapped to run the whole program.

She took a great team and made it better, winning six state championships during her tenure.

In search of a challenge and a reason to continue to grow as a team, the Vikings took on top opponents from across the country. No game had more significance than the 2006 contest against Moorestown, N.J.

It was No. 1 against No. 2 in the nation and drew a crowd of 2,000 people. Mt. Hebron won the nail-biting game to cement its top ranking.

Kuhl-McClelland stepped away from the Mt. Hebron program after the 2010 season, but she didn't stay away from lacrosse very long.

In 2011, she became the head coach at St. Paul's School for Girls and in 2013 led the Gators back to their conference finals after a seven-year absence.

Kuhl-McClelland was also active in the club lacrosse scene. She arranged large-scale regional tournaments and coached several M&D teams to championships.

She has been inducted into the Greater Baltimore Chapter of US Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

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