Patty Dages thought she was burned out on basketball when she graduated from Auburn University in 1988.
That, after four years as a guard knocking elbows with the nation's best Division I teams, including a senior season in which the Lady Tigers went 31-2, were ranked as high as No. 2 nationally and reached the final eight of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.
In her final year at Auburn, Dages, who averaged 26.5 points overfour seasons at now-defunct Brooklyn Park High, played in 29 games, started two and contributed 7.1 points and 2.1 boards per game.
"Ijust wanted a break from basketball," said Dages, 26. "I thought I just wanted to get away from it for a while."
But just as Dages settled into living comfortably with her mother in Brooklyn Park, the withdrawal symptoms began.
"I started going to high school games at Brooklyn Park again, and I started realizing where my heart really was," said Dages, who remains Anne Arundel County's all-time leading scorer, boy or girl, with 2,262 career points.
"The level of basketball, in my opinion, has gone down a little bit, and I just wanted to contribute to its growth. I felt that I had some tools and some knowledge from the quality coaches that I've had in the past. I figured I could help the kids. I just wanted to give something back."
Dages,a 1983 Brooklyn Park graduate, is the head girls basketball coach atGlen Burnie. The Gophers' opponent for today's game, North County, sort of represents an alma mater for Dages, since her old high school merged with Andover to form North County in 1989.
"I still have a lot of close friends at North County, so the game's going to be kind of special in that respect," said Dages, who spent last year as an assistant coach to Teresa Ross at Annapolis.
It was at Annapolis that Dages discovered that coaching might not be all that she had dreamed, as she watched the Panthers struggle to a 5-17 record.
"It was both frustrating and rewarding," said Dages, an office manager at Glen Burnie's Custom Printed Sportswear Inc.
"We knew it would be an uphill battle. The kids were attentive and wanted to learn, but I wasmore frustrated as a coach, seeing the disappointment on their facesafter a loss, than I ever was losing as a player."
And since taking over at Glen Burnie this year, where her Gophers are 3-10 overall (0-2 in the Friendship Division), Dages has had to temper several disappointing losses with her past successes.
"I've had to lower my expectations somewhat," said Dages. "I had to realize that I couldn't expect these girls to do what I did. I was kind of an exception."
Make that, an exceptional athlete.
Dages led the county in scoringher last three years at Brooklyn Park, with averages of 24.0, 26.6 and 29.7. In January of 1982, she set the county record for scoring ina single game, pouring in 45 points against Chesapeake.
Only three Baltimore-area girls scored more points than Dages in their high school careers, with Curley Jones of Baltimore's Arlington Baptist holding the metro area record at 2,586.
Southern's Dayna Scott, who graduated in 1985, was the closest to Dages in the county and the only other player to hit the 2,000 milestone, tallying 2,064.
Playing under Art St. Martin, now head coach at Catonsville Community College,Dages became the only county boys or girls basketball player to repeat as Anne Arundel County Sun Player of the Year as both a junior anda senior.
In her junior year, Dages led Brooklyn Park to the Class C state championship with an overall 24-2 record, including the 55-54 title-winning victory over Hagerstown's Smithsburg. In that game, she scored 25 points and had 22 boards, 10 assists and five steals.
The Bees were odds-on favorites to repeat as state champs in her senior season, but Dages sprained her ankle while scoring 32 points andcollecting 10 rebounds in the 66-56 semifinal victory over Mount Savage, which prevent ed her from playing in the title rematch vs. Smithsburg. The Bees lost, 64-46.
Despite her success as a player, and in part because of it, Dages had concerns about the type of coach shewas capable of being.
"People were talking, and I heard it, like,'She was a great player, but what makes her think she's going to be a great coach.' I wondered whether the kids were going to respond to me. But I just figure nobody's going to know how good they are until they try," said Dages, named Anne Arundel County Sun Player of the Decade in January of 1990.
"My biggest stumbling block, and the key,I think, is breaking down the gap in communication, realizing that each individual has different personalities and trying to relate to them. They're capable of doing different things, and you have to try and bring out the best in them.
"I try to treat them like I was treated, without being too nice or being hated. Some you can yell at, some you have to approach differently. Some you can yell at until you turn blue and they're not fazed by it.
"My main objective is that weimprove -- and we have. It just hasn't shown as much on the scoreboard."
Most of all, Dages has found that coaching is the best medicine for more than just her withdrawal symptoms.
"Once, after a longday at work, I had a headache before practice. When practice was over, the headache was gone," she said. "Going to practice every day, looking forward to the games, I love every second of it."
DAGES' SCORING AT BROOKLYN PARK
Class.. .. ..Years.... ..Games.. .. Total Pts... .. ..Avg.
Freshman.. 1979-1980.. . 18.. .. .. .358.. .. .. ... 19.9
Sophomore.. 1980-1981.. ..20.. .. ... 480.. .. .. .. 24.0
Junior.. .. 1981-1982.. . 23.. .. .. .612.. .. .. .. .26.6
Senior.... 1982-1983.. ..26.. .. ... 712.. .. .. .. 29.7
TOTALS.. .. .. .. .. .. . 85.. .. .. 2,262.. .. .. .. 26.6