For now, Centennial coach Bill Shook is focused on guiding the Eagles' tennis team to another undefeated season. But his mind is never far from the volleyball court.
Shook, who has made his greatest mark as Centennial's volleyball coach by leading the Eagles to three state championships in the past four years, has said repeatedly that he envisions himself as a college coach.
Shook will get a little closer to the college game this summer, when he spends two weeks in July working with the United States men's national team in San Diego.
"I look at it like a non-credit course that can actually help me in the future," Shook said. "I'll get more of a taste of what I'll need if I eventually move on to the collegiate level."
This won't be Shook's first road trip. Last year, he spent two
weeks with the national men's team before it left for Barcelona, Spain, to compete in the Olympics. Five years ago, he traveled to Japan, where he observed the men's national team and picked up some coaching tips.
"I hope they [the U.S. team] put me to work like last year, when they had me running some hitting drills," he said. "I'm a terrible setter, but it was quite a thrill setting some of the best hitters in the country."
Besides his independent travels, Shook will fulfill his usual commitments involving the Columbia Volleyball Club, which he founded eight years ago.
From June 10-22, he will accompany two Columbia teams to the Third Coast Tournament in Austin, Texas. Two days after that trip, he'll travel with two Columbia teams to the National Junior Olympics Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. Shook will head to San Diego after that.
Following another busy summer, Shook will begin his 10th season at Centennial, where he hopes to lead the Eagles to a third consecutive state volleyball title.
In nine seasons at Centennial, Shook has a 151-24 record (.863 winning percentage).
Wilde Lake gymnast excels
Paul Matthews, a freshman gymnast at Wilde Lake, has enjoyed quite a spring.
After winning a state championship with an all-around score of 93.0 in the Class II competition in March, Matthews finished third with an overall score of 96.85 in the 14-15 age group at last week's Region VII competition in West Point, N.Y.
That qualified him for the United States Gymnastics Federation nationals this weekend at the University of Michigan.
At the regionals, Matthews took on about 150 gymnasts from New York, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.
Matthews, who trains at Gymnastics Plus in Columbia, won the high bar competition, finished second in the parallel bars and was third in the pommel horse.
If he finishes in the top 10 of his age group at Michigan, Matthews will qualify for the National Junior Olympics Team.
Mina catches fire for Raiders
Atholton's softball team can point to numerous players to explain its 8-4 season, which includes a 7-0 record against the county.
If it had to pick an MVP today, though, the choice might be senior catcher Amy Mina.
Defensively, Mina has been superb. She has thrown out three runners attempting to steal. More impressively, she has picked off 10 base runners, including eight off third base. Coach Dave Vitagliano has lost count of how many runs Mina has saved, and how many opposing rallies she has killed.
"It seems like almost every one [of the pickoffs] ends an inning," Vitagliano said. "Basically, teams don't try running on her any more."
Mina's bat also has come alive lately. After a slow start, she has raised her average to .375 and has moved into third on the team in RBI with 13.
Hoffman nets scholarship
Dana Hoffman, the senior goalkeeper on Glenelg's lacrosse team, has capped a solid, three-year varsity career nicely. While enjoying her best season, she has announced she will attend Loyola on a lacrosse scholarship.
Hoffman has been a bright spot on a struggling 2-6 Glenelg team. She has borne the brunt of a shaky defense by giving up an average of 14.5 goals, but she has held her own by averaging 25.6 saves. In eight games, she has made no fewer than 20 saves.
"Last year, Dana started to take it [goalkeeping] seriously and think of it in terms of a priority," Glenelg coach Ginger Kincaid said. "This year, she has really taken control as the captain of the defense."
Howard boys finally win
Howard's boys lacrosse team can breathe a bit easier. After suffering through an 0-5 start, the Lions broke through last week with two victories.
First, the Lions hung on for a 5-4 victory over Atholton. In that game, the Lions lost control of the ball with 1:50 left, and needed a crucial save by goalie Mike Abram to preserve the victory. Five days later, the Lions beat Seneca Valley, 6-3.
Centennial sticks it to foes
Centennial's boys lacrosse team, which has won nine straight games after dropping its season opener, continues to build momentum as the state playoffs approach.
In their last four victories, the Eagles have outscored their opponents, 67-22.