The world of amateur sports forces athletes and their parents to make difficult choices.
Tough questions never seem to end: Should an athlete focus on one sport, and if so, should it be the one he's best at, or the one he likes the most?
Should he travel long distances to participate in youth-league competition to play on the best team possible?
Should he switch from a high school with a high-powered sports team that plays in an elite-level conference to a school with a better academic reputation, but lesser athletic program?
Sean Rozanski of Ellicott City has faced all those tough questions, and his answers have led him to Glenelg Country School, a private institution where the 6-foot-1 junior guard has put a charge into the basketball program, and where the institution has, in turn, enhanced his academic environment.
Rozanski, who is leading the Baltimore area in scoring with a 27-point average, transferred from Cardinal Gibbons this fall in hopes of raising his academic performance.
Gibbons plays basketball in the rugged Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference with the likes of Calvert Hall and Archbishop Spalding. Glenelg Country plays in the MIAA C Conference - a mighty drop-off in competition. The Dragons have never won a C title, and failed even to make the six-team playoffs last season.
But Glenelg Country has much smaller class sizes and teachers who are always willing to stay around and give students extra help, says Rozanski. And that kind of attention is just what he needed.
"I struggled the first couple of weeks academically at Glenelg," Rozanski said. "But now, in second semester, my grades are picking up."
Glenelg's basketball fortunes have also picked up, thanks in large part to Rozanski. The Dragons are 11-4 in the league and have clinched a playoff spot.
"Sean is the best talent in the C Conference," Dragons coach Charlie Stewart said. "He's a great shooter, a good passer and a super foul shooter. He's aggressive to the basket. If you get in his face, he blows by you."
Rozanski scored a season-high 49 points against Annapolis Area Christian on Jan. 11. He scored 46 points against Mount Carmel on Dec. 21.
Rozanski said his college choice will be based on the quality of the academic program, not on basketball.
He acknowledges that the competition at the C Conference level represents a drop.
"I didn't know a whole lot about what I was getting into, basketball-wise," he said of his transfer. "Some teams are pretty competitive. Some are not. I just try to make everyone I play with play better. I don't think of myself as a star. I just don't like losing, so I do what I can to win. If I put up a lot of points and we still lose, then that's a negative to me."
He understands that for a lot of his teammates, basketball is a second sport, one that some kids are playing simply to fulfill a school requirement that they participate in two extracurricular activities.
"I like the kids on my team. They work hard and take it seriously," Rozanski said. "Someone like our captain, Mike Cox, is not a gifted athlete but has made himself into a player, and he's my role model as a student."
Rozanski said he thought he could do well at the C Conference level. "But I didn't think I'd average 27 points."
He averaged 27 points as a freshman on Gibbons' junior varsity team, however, before moving up to varsity last season and getting plenty of playing time as a sophomore.
His father, Brian, a former semipro hockey player from Philadelphia, described the move as "the most difficult decision in our lives. Sean really liked [Gibbons] coach Bob Flynn. But there were 40 to 45 kids in a class at Gibbons. That's too many. Sean needs a good education. He might play basketball at a Division III college level."
Rozanski lives in the Centennial school district now, after the latest Howard County redistricting plan. And Centennial is one of the highest-rated academic public schools. But Rozanski said he plans to finish at Glenelg Country.
Baseball was Rozanski's first sport and the one he thinks he's best at. "But basketball was more exciting," Rozanski said. "I switched in the sixth grade, and for me it was necessary to focus on one sport to become competitive at it."
He played for the Rising Stars out of Marlow Heights for four years, and was coached by Orlando Wright, whose two sons have achieved some renown as players. The team made it to the Amateur Athletic Union nationals three of those four years.
He now plays for the First Baptist Crusaders, another high-powered AAU team that is located closer to home.
Travel time became an issue in making the AAU switch, as it was in switching from Gibbons to Glenelg.
Glenelg's final regular-season game is tomorrow at St. Peter and Paul, and league playoffs begin next week.