Bill Shook, who guided Centennial's volleyball team to four state titles in the past five years, is leaving to take the head coaching position at Mars Hill College in North Carolina.
In 10 years at Centennial, Shook built the Eagles into the dominant volleyball program in Howard County as well as one of the best in the state. His career record of 174-25 includes seven county titles and four regional championships.
"We're upset that he's leaving, especially because we didn't get a chance to say goodbye," said Eagles veteran Sheri Kujawa, adding that the players learned of Shook's departure through letters he sent to each of them.
Kujawa said the Eagles are wondering how the transition to an as-yet-unnamed coach will affect their bid for a fourth straight state title this fall. "With him, we could [win] definitely. He was tough. He expected the best and, mainly, he got the best from us. He accomplished so much at Centennial."
In 1993, Shook earned All-Metro Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Eagles to a 24-0 season, the state Class 3A championship and The Baltimore Sun's No. 1 ranking. The Eagles also were ranked No. 19 nationally that year by USA Today.
Last season, the Eagles continued building that winning streak, eventually running it to 55 straight matches before falling to Severna Park in the Bulldog Classic tournament at North Caroline High School in October.
However, the Eagles rebounded to win the rest of their matches, putting Shook in elite company as one of only five coaches to win four or more state titles.
The departure of Shook, who could not be reached for comment, reaches further than the Centennial gym. Nine years ago, he founded the Columbia Volleyball Club, giving younger girls a chance to learn the sport before they got to high school. Most of Howard County's stars played for the club, greatly enhancing their skills as well as their chances for college scholarships.
A teacher at Burleigh Manor Middle School, Shook also coached the Eagles tennis team for 11 years, compiling a career record of 127-13.
On Aug. 1, Shook takes over at Mars Hill, a college of 1,100 students about 15 miles north of Asheville.