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A tradition of soccer coaching


For Hans and Anne Orthner of Annapolis, coaching kids' teams is a way of life. It started innocently enough when daughters Bernadette, now 33, and Kelly, 32, were preteens and came home telling stories of well-meaning volunteers who were willing to coach a soccer team though they knew nothing about the sport.

Hans, who is from Austria, had played on European teams and for American teams in Europe, as well as playing for the Annapolis Soccer Club. So it seemed to be the right thing to do, volunteering to coach, and Anne pitched in as assistant coach.

Twenty-five years later, the Orthners have just finished coaching the General's Highway Athletic Association rec team of their youngest daughter, Nikki, 14. Coaching that group was particularly rewarding, since the Orthners began working with them at the clinic level when they were just 7.

Along the way, they also have coached basketball teams. Hans coaches Anne's basketball team. Anne, at 56, is one of the oldest players on the Division A women's team she plays for in Columbia.

"They're user-friendly to gray-haired players," she says with a laugh.

But soccer remains their first love. "There are soccer balls all over the house," says Hans. Hans also was the first women's varsity soccer coach at the University of Maryland, a position that evolved out of the club team he coached when his oldest daughter was in school there.

Keeping up with younger players is simple: The Orthners eat right and exercise. They walk a mile or two every day, and always pick the stairs over the elevator. They play tennis, badminton or pingpong with their three daughters.

And when they coach, they work as hard as the kids. "When they do a jog, we do a jog," says Hans. "When they do a drill, we do a drill."

They avoid fast food - they hate seeing out-of-shape parents pull away from the drive-through. "It's amazing when you have 12- and 13-year-old children and the parents are so out of shape, and they're just in their 40s," says Hans.

How do they find time to prepare proper meals after practices and away games? Hans, who is a regional sales manager and designer for Deck House Inc., and Anne, a nurse who works in both an ophthalmologic surgical center and a retirement community for nuns, eat late, around 8 or 9 o'clock, and just go to bed later.

"We probably don't get the sleep we need," they joke.

But they're energized by the rewards of seeing children mature and improve over the years.

Now that their youngest daughter has graduated from the rec league programs, they could quit. Well, that's after they try to put together an indoor soccer team aimed at older teen-agers. HTC And they talk about possibly becoming soccer officials. Or maybe, says Anne, 'We might do it all over again; take a group from clinic to age 14."

"I'm only 55," adds Hans.

Pub Date: 12/20/98

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