James Shuck became a coach-turned-student at the same girls lacrossecamp he helped organize.

Having just completed his second season as girls lacrosse coach at South River, Shuck spent most of Thursday morning watching from atop a hill behind the Edgewater school while his two daughters -- former University of Maryland starters -- assisted in directing an informal scrimmage.

Occasionally, he would grab a stick and serve as a goalie, alleviating the shortage at that position.

"I'm learning so much. It's unbelievable the things I didn't know," Shuck said.

He's not the only one who gained valuable instruction from the weeklong day and evening sessions -- just the oldest.

Shuck said about two dozen girls between the ages of 8 and 14 registered for the day portion of the South River High Boosters Club Camp, which ran from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.Another 30 girls, ages 14 and upward, took part in the evening camp from 6 to 9 p.m. Both concluded Friday.

The early session mainly attracted Annapolis-area residents, while the advanced camp drew students from Meade, Arundel, Broadneck and Severna Park high schools, among others.

"It's not as good a turnout as we had hoped," Shuck said, remembering that 35 girls registered for the inaugural day camp last year. An evening session was added this summer.

"Maybe people didn't know about it. Some girls had moved up, and we were hoping others would move in and take their place. But we got a very good response from all the people who attended it."

Like Anna Miller, 12, of Annapolis, who scored the last goal before Thursday's noon lunch break.

"It's been fun. Hot, but fun," said Miller, a student a Bates Middle School who hopes to play lacrosse at the high school level.

"This will help me a lot. I'm being taught the basic skills, like catching and throwing and cradling. And I've learned how to cut. I didn'tdo that before, but now I'm always getting praised for my cutting."

Among the instructors offering such encouragement were Shuck's daughters, Broadneck graduates Jenn and Leeann Shuck, both three-year starters at Maryland. They were joined by former Terrapin All-AmericansErin Brown, Mary Konder and Jessica Wilkes and South River assistantPaula Tobin.

The Shuck sisters attained All-County status at Broadneck -- Jenn as a defender, Leeann as an attack wing. Leeann was an All-American at Maryland before graduating this spring. But both wishsuch a camp was available when they were younger.

"I began playing lacrosse in the ninth grade," said Jenn, a 1986 graduate of Broadneck. "I felt if I had been able to learn more at a younger age, I would have been better off coming in at the college level.

"These girls will see their play improve dramatically. They've already improved 120 percent since the week started."

Leeann, who graduated from Broadneck a year after her sister, thinks the sport is changing at an accelerated pace, "and people aren't keeping up with it."

"So much that I learned in college, I should have learned earlier," she said.

Playing against a backdrop of trees at the far end of the practicefield, the campers were closely scrutinized throughout Thursday morning's scrimmage.

"She just burned you in the crease," Leeann says,focusing her attention on one young player. "You have to play defense."

The action starts up again, but now it's Brown who blows a whistle and sprints toward two players who are out of position.

"The instructors do such a good job. They really know the game," Jim Shucksaid. "The kids will listen to me, but when you can't show them everything, they don't accept it as much."

Many of the participants with a background in the sport were eager to learn a new position.

"Before I came here, I had only played defense. Now, I can play attack, too," said Rachel Prendergast, 12, of Annapolis.

Leeann said theyounger girls are "easier to change, because they don'thave set ways."

"You can see the improvement of their skills and their overall knowledge," Tobin said. "You can see the light bulbs go off over their heads."

"We have competitive relays to reinforce the skills, andthey don't realize how hard they're working," Tobin said. "But we also have prizes at the end, like a slush or an ice cream, which is nice on a 97-degree day."

So were the water balloon fights that highlighted Friday morning's workout. Once the girls retreated indoors forlunch, they resumed the cooling-down period by blasting each other with squirt bottles.

"It's a lot of fun for the younger kids," Leeann said. "The older ones have fun, too, but they're a little more intense."

Leeann Shuck believes a camp like the one she helped run last week will change the way she watches lacrosse in the future.

"Six or seven years from now, I'll really enjoy going to high schools and seeing the increased level of play," she said. "There won't be oneor two dominant teams anymore."

Just dominant players.

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