Coaching can be so rewarding, yet so painful.
Annapolis boys basketball coach John Brady has been on the emotional roller coaster before, but never quite like this week when the Booth twins, Barry and Byron, quit the team.
Oh, sure, like the majority of coaches who have stayed around awhile, Brady has had guys quit, but not two kids dear to his heart.
Brady has been hollering at his players for 20 years and getting results and the support of five principals and one athletic director, Fred Stauffer, in that time.
Beneath the gruff exterior that takes center stage on the Panthers' sideline, there is a very caring coach. Barry Booth Sr., played on Brady's first two teams in 1977-79, and now 20 years later, his twin sons were starting for the coach -- until Thursday.
They turned in their uniforms at halftime of the Panthers' 62-43 victory over Severna Park and left with their father. Brady yelled at Byron a couple times before the athlete walked out of the gym during the second period.
Brady left the game to seek Byron out in the locker room and to apologize. "They're two [the twins] of the kids I usually don't get on, and people have noticed that," said Brady. "I tried to talk Byron out of it, but he told me it just wasn't fun anymore.
"I apologized to him if he thought I was getting personal and told him to think about it and that he could come back if he wanted to. They're good kids, good students, good citizens -- the kind of kids a coach doesn't want to lose."
Byron and Barry, who followed his brother during halftime, didn't want to talk about what happened, but their father did.
"Some kids are thick-skinned, some are not, and just because a lot of other kids took that abuse over the years doesn't make it right," said Barry Sr., who coached Annapolis' JV in the twins' first year and the Panthers' summer team.
"Byron felt like John personally attacked him verbally, and it had been building up. I have to stand behind my kids."
What's interesting is Byron told me about 10 days ago that "Mr. Brady's hollering was for a purpose and not personal." Byron also said their father wasn't real happy, but this would be their last year playing basketball, and they would "concentrate on academics at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore."
Brady says he had no idea that the Booths were upset and that he asked a couple of his players Friday if they had any inclination the twins were thinking about quitting. They all said they were as surprised as the coach.
"All of a sudden, after four years in the program, they can't play for me anymore?" asked Brady. "I don't understand it, and it hurts to see them leave."
The twins' mother, Cheryl, met with Annapolis principal Joyce Smith on Friday, and according to Barry Sr., will seek a meeting with the board of education this week. Smith, who also met with Brady, did not return phone calls Friday.
County policy was followed, because the matter was discussed with Brady and, according to the coach, the case is closed.
Or is it?
"I told the boys to think it over this weekend, and we'll see how they feel Monday," said Barry Sr.
Too late for the coach?
"Nope," said Brady. "They can come back -- and I hope they do."
The county's three highest ranked boys basketball teams -- No. 6 Annapolis (3-2), No. 11 Arundel (3-0) and No. 15 Broadneck (1-2) -- are not only getting ready for Santa, but three holiday tournaments as well.
* Cap City Classic: Annapolis, which last won its own tournament in 1993, opens at 8 p.m. Friday, in the day's second game, against Northern-Calvert County. North County (3-2) plays Landon at 6 p.m. The championship is 8 p.m. Saturday, consolation at 6 p.m.
Pallotti of Laurel repeated as Cap City Champion last year with a 51-49 win over Annapolis.
* Wes Unseld Classic: Broadneck has won more Unseld titles than any other school and missed number six in last year's final dropping a 72-60 decision to Edmondson. Broadneck and Edmondson can meet again in Saturday's 8 p.m. championship. All games in the eight-team tournament are being played at Catonsville Community College.
The Bruins open vs. Milford Mill at 6:15 p.m. Thursday. Edmondson plays Catonsville at 8 p.m. Other first-round games: Old Mill (1-4) and No. 8 Randallstown (4-0) play at 3 p.m..
* Arundel in Virginia: The Wildcats are the only non-Virginia team in the Chantilly (Va.) Tournament, and open at 3 p.m. Friday against West Springfield. Host Chantilly (2-0) is ranked No. 7 in XTC metro Washington by The Washington Post.
Light down finder again
Arundel's two-time All-Metro pitcher Kurt Light, who recently received a baseball scholarship to the University of Georgia, is going to spend Christmas in Australia.
Light, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound right-hander who throws in the high 80s, is returning to Sydney. Light was one of the U.S. team's standout pitchers in last year's Goodwill Games.
Have an idea for Sidelines? Call Pat O'Malley's 24-Hour Sportsline, (410) 647-2499.
Pub Date: 12/22/96