Rayna DuBose walked toward the opposing coach with a yellow rose in her hand and a smile on her face.
She handed the rose to the coach, who put both arms around the 6-foot-2 Oakland Mills sophomore forward and warmly hugged her. The coach also had something for DuBose.
"She said good luck, play hard, play your best," said DuBose.
DuBose was not the only Oakland Mills player to get a hug and a kind word or two from the opposing coach during the player introductions Friday night at Oakland Mills.
And by the time the hug-fest had ended, the opposing coach had herself a nice bouquet of roses.
Oakland Mills players normally give a handshake to the opposing coach, not a rose. And you can forget the hugs.
But Friday night's game against River Hill was not an ordinary occasion. Just ask the opposing coach.
"I know I'm the guest tonight," said Teresa Waters. "It's a funny feeling for me because of the closeness I have with the Oakland Mills players."
Waters coached at Oakland Mills for 17 seasons. Last March she coached the Scorpions to the Class 1A state championship, then a few months later decided to coach at the school where she teaches.
"I will always hold these kids close to my heart, and they know that," Waters said. "But I have moved on."
When the county schedule was released, the first game Waters looked for was this one. "I knew it would come," she said. "You can't get around it."
And now that day was here.
"Everything I looked to wear today was orange," said Waters, who always comes well-dressed. "Everything I picked out was orange, and I knew I couldn't wear anything orange, not here, not tonight. But I'm so accustomed to having [Oakland Mills colors] orange and black in my wardrobe."
Waters always is the last one to leave the bus. This night she stayed a little longer and talked to the driver.
"Coming back gives you an eerie feeling," Waters said. "It was an adjustment for me coming here in a different capacity."
People greeted her as a friend, not the opposing coach.
"It was good to see everybody, the faces and the smiles," Waters said.
And once through the gym doors, the first thing Waters did was look up to the wall where the oversized team picture of last year's state champions rests.
"Rayna made a comment which was real nice," said Waters, sitting in the stands an hour before the game. "I asked her and Jessica [Oster] if they look at this picture often, and Rayna said, 'I look at it everyday, but I only look at one person,' and I said, 'Who's that?'thinking that she was going to say herself, but she said me."
River Hill has better talent then Oakland Mills, but Waters knew her former players would play hard. She was right.
The Scorpions trailed 16-6 after one quarter and by as many as 13 in the second period. But they scored the first three baskets of the third quarter -- one by Heather Romich and two by DuBose -- and River Hill's lead was down to 24-21 with 9: 36 left.
Unfortunately for Oakland Mills, those baskets were its only scores of the third quarter. The Hawks added two more baskets to lead, 28-21, into the final period.
DuBose's free throw cut River Hill's advantage to 30-26 with 3: 44 to play, but the Scorpions could get no closer, and lost, 35-28.
It was the Hawks' first win in five tries, but Waters was more relieved then happy.
"It could have gone either way, the way we were playing," said Waters, whose team had a shot-clock violation called against it in each quarter. "We didn't execute anything. I think my girls were trying too hard and didn't play with any control. Total haywire."
And she gave credit where credit was due.
"Oakland Mils played with a lot of heart and intensity on defense," said Waters. "They played much harder then we did."
It was difficult in some ways for Oakland Mills players to go against their former coach.
"It was hard. It felt weird," DuBose said. "Everything she had said to me she was saying to their team now."
But Waters' presence on the visitor's bench certainly inspired her former players to play their best.
"I felt like I wanted to prove to her that our team could beat her team," said Romich, who along with DuBose held River Hill's Keiko Miller to two points, 23 less then she scored two days early against Glenelg. "When I heard her cheer for her team, it made me try harder."
The game had been over for more then 10 minutes, and Waters still was in the gym talking with former players and parents. Then DuBose, Romich and Tasha Brooks huddled around Waters one last time.
"You played with a lot of intensity," Waters told the girls. "You have to hold your heads up high."
"But we didn't win the game," DuBose said.
"You won some confidence," Waters said.
And with that, they said their good-byes, going their separate ways.
Pub Date: 12/20/98