New South River coach sets high goals in soccer


If there is a women's soccer or lacrosse team beginning, or a camp needing a coach or director in the county, keep it a secret.

Leann Shuck, South River High's new girls varsity soccer coach, might want to register. Shuck, 23, has been involved in directing or coaching five camps this summer, plays on an all-male club soccer team called the Cherrypickers and performs for the Rebels, a women's club lacrosse team of the Baltimore Women's Lacrosse Association.

"I love lacrosse more than any sport," said Shuck, who guided the Broadneck varsity girls lacrosse team to an 11-4 record in her first season as coach last spring. "But I love soccer."

Shuck was an instructor at clinics this summer, refereed club lacrosse games and served as co-chairman of the newly formed Chesapeake Women's Lacrosse Association.

"Can you ask for anybody more well-rounded?" said South River athletic director Jim Haluck. "She is a very good teacher and gets the sport across to the kids."

But when practice starts Aug. 15, Shuck, who was appointed coach last Monday, will put some of her activities aside and focus on one of the stronger girls soccer teams in the county this year.

"We could do well this year. South River has a decent team," Shuck said. "I would like to get them in shape and have them do a lot of drills. I want my team to do the best they can. They are going to have a good time but the practices are going to be hard.

"Soccer is not just skill -- it's desire and heart. I want the girls to play their hardest. Teams that hustle and are scrappy come out on top. Hopefully, the team will have that desire."

This past school year, Shuck was an assistant girls soccer coach at Southern and an assistant girls basketball coach at Broadneck.

Shuck is taking over a team that her father, James Shuck, coached from 1987-1990. He now coaches women's soccer and lacrosse at Anne Arundel Community College.

"I wouldn't have predicted this a few years ago," her father said. "Two years ago, she didn't consider coaching."

Leann, a 1987 Broadneck graduate, insisted, "It's not a rivalry." She added, "We help each other with our teams. He will watch my games and I will watch his. Everybody will recognize me as Jim Shuck's daughter.

"It's a nice plus, coaching at the school my father used to coach at. I look forward to coaching South River because it's my second varsity job. It's a nice change to be a head coach. I want to mold a team. It helps that I know the parents and athletic director."

South River went 7-5-1 last year and lost in the first round of the 4A/3A playoffs. Hillory Dean resigned as coach earlier this summer after only one season.

"She has a situation where it's a possible playoff team," Haluck said. "She has 40 girls to choose from for the varsity. We look for a region or state champion. That's not impossible. She has the raw talent and so does the team. The mix of the two will be good."

While Shuck already has made her mark as one of the elite young high school coaches in the county, the college level is her next goal.

"I would like to go to college eventually to coach lacrosse or to be an assistant for soccer," Shuck from 18 said. "Being a head coach for soccer will help me get other jobs. And I don't think age is a factor."

Shuck applied to Towson State for the women's lacrosse head and assistant coaching vacancies.

"I am sure in a year or two she will be going off to coach college. She has that desire," Haluck said. "I am happy to have her, but I would like to keep her. But that's a long shot. She could build a hell of a program here."

Shuck played lacrosse and soccer at the University of Maryland.

She helped the women's lacrosse team reach the NCAA finals for two years. Shuck ranked first on the 1991 squad in total points (63), ground balls (59), draws (34), assists (30) while finishing third in goals (33) and shots on goal (84). Shuck topped those honors the next year, being named to two All-American teams.

During her one season at Essex Community College, Shuck garnered All-American honors as a center halfback in soccer and played one season of women's lacrosse.

In high school, Shuck played soccer (three years), lacrosse (three years), basketball (two seasons) and one year of indoor track. Shuck was an Evening Sun All-Metro selection for lacrosse in 1987 and soccer in 1986.

In the spring of 1991, Shuck graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in criminal justice. Last year, she was a substitute teacher at Broadneck, Annapolis and Southern. But this fall, Shuck will substitute teach at South River and Broadneck.

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