Given his family background, it's easy to understand how Steve Salters got into coaching. What sets Edgewood High School's new head football coach apart from his peers, however, is his age.
At 25, he is one of the sport's youngest head coaches in the state, but since his appointment last month, there have been more "How're you gonna do?" queries from his friends than comments about his age.
One week into preseason practice, Salters is still feeling his way but he has ensured a measure of continuity from last year's 8-3 State Class 2-A playoff team by retaining the coaching staff, most of whom are also in their 20s.
"They knew what had been done in the past, and they could help me with the personnel, so it seemed a good idea to keep them," Salters says of his decision. "We get along well, and I'll take suggestions, but the final decision is mine. We are starting to jell as a group."
Salters grew up in an athletic family. His father, Jim, is the only physical education department chairman, athletic director, and head football coach Baltimore County's Eastern Vo Tech has known in its 22-year history. His mother, Nancy, is a former physical education teacher who still substitutes at Joppatowne High School.
The same week Steve got the Edgewood job, his sister, Sandy, was named a health teacher and head coach of girls lacrosse at Aberdeen High School.
Edgewood's new coach began playing some form of organized football in the third grade, went on to earn All-County recognition as an offensive guard at Joppatowne, graduating in 1985. At Frostburg State, he earned letters for three years in football, majored in physical education, and graduated in 1989.
He spent the next two years working on a master's degree at Western Maryland College, and was an assistant with the football team. Last year, he taught at Loch Raven High School and served as an assistant coach in football, basketball, and baseball.
"Basically, I knew I wanted to be a phys-ed major when I went to college, and by my senior year was interested enough in being a coach to start being aware of what the coaches did and to take a lot of notes," Salters said last week.
"The two years at Western Maryland were a great learning experience. [Head coach] Dale Sprague was wonderful to me, and we have stayed in touch. I believe he was instrumental in my getting this job."
Salters has already found out one of the basics that goes with Maryland high school coaching.
"We're not blessed with trainers, or equipment managers, for instance. We're the whole package."
Discussing the hiring, Forest Wiest, former Edgewood athletic director and currently its assistant principal, said, "We received applications from a broad range of backgrounds -- college, high school, and recreation -- and at least one coach with considerably more experience."
Wiest and principal Robert Williams served as the selection committee.
"One of the key elements was hiring a coach who would grow into the position, be here 5 to 10 years. We need stability in our program." Three of the school's four previous head football coaches served at least 10 years.
"Realistically, Steve was younger than what we had in mind, but he possessed everything else, including playing and coaching at the collegiate level, and coming from the area," Wiest pointed out. He came with excellent recommendations, and in the
interview we liked his enthusiasm and his work ethic."
Asked about the recognition factor of his new position, Salters replied, "I haven't done anything yet. The only exposure I've had was in getting the job. When we do well as a team, then we'll all enjoy it."