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St. Mary's officials say school is not cutting back on athletics


Sunday's "Sidelines" mentioned that Brad Best, St. Mary's football coach and athletic director, will continue in both capacities at the Annapolis private school. That is so.

The same piece also mentioned that some of the rumors circulating that Best would resign as football coach were because of "his increased duties as Saints' athletic director at a time when the school administration is de-emphasizing athletics."

That is not so, according to school officials.

Despite much of the controversy last spring that nearly resulted in the departure of highly successful boys lacrosse coach Jim Moorhead, who was involved in a bitter power struggle while acting also as principal, the school is not de-emphasizing athletics.

"We've been going through a lot of political strife connected with Jim, and I know there have been a lot of misnomers floating around," said assistant principal Rob White. "But we beg to differ that St. Mary's is de-emphasizing athletics.

"I know some of our boys sports, like football, were down, but the girls are still up, and we're striving for balance."

White said the "political strife" was between the elementary and high school officials and is being resolved. The St. Mary's administration is on record saying a "jock image" for the school was not wanted.

Former athletic director Carmine Blades, in his 38th year of teaching at the school and architect of the Saints' expanded athletic program over the last decade, added this:

"There is no way the policy toward athletics has changed. We still feel athletics are an important part of our school despite some of the things that have happened."

Coaches overhaul?

Al Grau, Chesapeake's athletic director, is serving notice of a growing problem that needs to be addressed.

The Anne Arundel County public school system has a serious concern with a lack of teacher/coaches that has made the need for emergency coaches greater than ever.

Well over half the county's physical education instructors and coaches from elementary through the high schools have more than 25 years of experience.

Old Mill athletic director Jim Dillon boasts the most tenure with 36 years in the county.

"In the near future, we could lose a lot of teacher/coaches, and in recent years with that happening, we have not been getting replacements," said Grau. "That's why it's important to give proven emergency coaches more support."

Several attempts by Ned Sparks, Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association executive director, to give proven emergency coaches the same credibility as teacher/coaches have failed.

"Foreseeing the growing shortage of good coaches and those who want to coach," said Grau. "Ned has tried to get the state to give emergency coaches with five years of positive evaluations similar status to teacher/coaches, but the State Teachers Association always shoots it down.

"It used to be that teachers wanted to coach. But that has changed dramatically, and it's getting worse trying to find coaches."

Until Sparks' idea is approved, emergency coaches will have their jobs advertised after each season, and they have to re-interview, no matter how well they do.

Using the current basketball season as an example, six of the 12 public school boys teams and six girls teams have coaches who do not teach in their respective buildings -- the most ever.

At Chesapeake, Grau has the perfect example of a proven emergency coach who has been outstanding in boys basketball, John Spinnenweber.

Spinnenweber, who has led the Cougars to their only winning season and is in his sixth season, is employed by county recreation and parks as Cannon Stadium supervisor.

"Not only has John turned our program around, but he is also a first-class citizen, the kind of person you want coaching your kids," said Grau.

More volunteers also are needed as assistant coaches.

Coach of year

Scott Peavler, Anne Arundel Community College womens soccer coach, has been named Mid-Atlantic Region Junior College Coach of the Year. The Pioneers were 14-3-1, losing in the National Junior College Athletic Association quarterfinals.

Have a note for Sidelines? Call Pat O'Malley's 24-hour Sportsline, 410-647-2499.

Pub Date: 12/17/98

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