Stephanie Howell is not into specialization.
She plays soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and lacrosse in the spring.
She relaxes in the summer by playing all three.
The Glenelg junior has thought about focusing on one sport but can't convince herself to do so.
"I can never pick one," she said.
And, quite frankly, she doesn't want to.
"Sports come easy to me," said Howell, a three-year varsity starter in soccer and basketball. "I enjoy it so much. It's not overwhelming."
Howell is as competitive as anyone and challenges herself to be the best. But she hasn't forgotten that sports should be fun. And right now she's having a blast.
"It's the most fun I've ever had playing for a team," Howell said. "Why? The girls, the coach. We play as a team. That's the best part about it."
Glenelg's unbeaten team is ranked No. 8 in the area and last night improved to 14-0 overall and 10-0 in Howard County with a 76-45 victory over visiting Hammond. Howell scored 12 points, the sixth time in the last seven games she has hit double figures.
"She's playing with much more confidence lately," said Glenelg coach Ciaran Lesikar.
To stop Glenelg, opponents must first key on Lauren Martin outside and Kris Brust inside. That gives Howell more opportunities offensively, and this season she's taking advantage of them.
"She's taking the ball to the basket a lot better," said Martin. "She's not intimidated."
Howell, averaging nearly 11 points and having scored a personal high 20 Monday against Long Reach, agreed.
"I'm taking more shots, and I'm not afraid to take shots," she said.
Especially from the baseline. Ever since she started playing basketball, Howell has found the baseline to her liking.
"I like that shot," she said.
But she does more. She drives more and, with her speed, often leads fast breaks. And she has become a more effective offensive player because she has worked hard on her footwork.
"Every time I catch the ball, I square up," Howell said, "and that opens up a lot of options."
"It allows her to see the court and make a pass and also helps her step into her shot," said Lesikar. "It speeds up her shot."
Howell's improved footwork also has cut down her turnovers.
"The last two years, she's probably averaged two walks per game," Lesikar said. "I don't think she has more than three walks the entire year."
A 5-foot-8 guard, Howell is active in Glenelg's zone defense. She's intense and aggressive, and her quickness and long arms create a lot of problems for opponents. She often comes up with deflections or steals that lead to breakaway layups.
"She does a lot of things for us on defense," said Martin.
Howell, a co-captain, has played on a state championship team before and thinks she could be on another one.
"If we work hard and stay focused, we can win the state," said Howell, who led her soccer team in scoring as a sophomore en route to the state Class 1A title.
But Howell said the Gladiators are taking it game by game. They have talked about going undefeated but not dwelled on it.
"We know if we get too cocky we can be beat," Howell said. "We're trying to stay focused."
The Gladiators face another challenge tomorrow night when they travel to River Hill, which came closest to beating Glenelg this season (59-53).
Howell can't decide on her favorite sport, or which sport she plays better.
"I love them all," she said, "especially the one I'm involved in at the time."
She feels she has solid skills in all three sports but acknowledges that there always is room for improvement. She would like to attend a Maryland college and play two sports.
Howell, who has a 3.2 grade-point average, has played in all three sports in summer leagues the last two years and plans to do so this summer.
Aren't there conflicts?
"Several," she said. "I go to wherever I'm needed the most."
But she has no conflicts now. She's putting everything into basketball, and it's paying off.
"She's just a great kid to have on your team," Lesikar said. "She brings a lot to the team, not only on the court but off it, as well."
Pub Date: 1/28/99