During the mid-1990s, Nicole Freeman was a dominant force for the South Carroll girls basketball team.
Come this winter, South Carroll athletic director Jim Horn is banking that the 25-year-old will again be a dominant force - on the sideline.
The former two-time County Player of the Year, then known as Nicole Spencer, was hired last week as coach of the Cavaliers, replacing Steve Luette, who gave up the job earlier this fall for family reasons.
"I'm very excited," Freeman said. "It's a privilege and a dream to be able to return to my high school and coach there."
It's also quite a coup for Horn, who had sent out e-mails across the school and the county looking for qualified applicants.
"She contacted me and said she was very much interested," Horn said. "That was all I needed. I didn't even know she was back in town."
"I had decided a long time ago that if I ever had the chance to do it I would," said Freeman, who attended Brigham Young University but never made the team as a walk-on, in part due to knee injuries. "I just didn't anticipate that it would be at this point in time."
It wasn't long ago that Freeman was dominating in the paint for one of the best teams in county history.
She averaged 17.0 points and 8.3 rebounds as a senior, leading the Cavaliers to a 22-2 mark and a trip to the 1995 regional final.
"She was a very aggressive player, but not in a dirty sense," Horn recalled. "She was just a very physical player on the boards with a good shooting touch and a real knowledge of the game. She also was an absolute leader. The kids really looked up to her and took their cue from her."
It's those same qualities, Horn believes, that will make her a formidable coach.
"What's nice about her is she's a leader by example," Horn said. "You will not hear her raise her voice, you will not see her get angry. She'll be a tremendous example for these kids."
Freeman sees coaching as a chance to still participate in the sport she loves.
"Basketball is something that I definitely love, and I love working with the high school students, so it could definitely become something that I would do for years to come," she said.
Hoping to improve its team through a change in coaches, Liberty has made a switch in its field hockey program, with veteran coach Nora Murray replacing Carla McCarron.
The Lions are 0-5, and have lost their three county games - against South Carroll, Westminster and North Carroll - by a combined 13-0.
"We just felt we needed to go in a different direction for coaching," said Liberty athletic director Joe Reiter. "When we made that decision, Nora said that she would step up and do the varsity for this year. She knows the kids. She has JV experience, and she worked with the girls a couple years ago."
Murray, who led the JV program as recently as two years ago, said she intends to build from the ground up.
"We're going back to the basics and working on skills," Murray said. "In watching them play the first couple games, I thought some of their skills lacked as far as stickwork, dribbling and stopping. That's what we've been working on, and I've seen improvement in that."
Murray, however, doesn't at all consider herself a typical "emergency" coach.
"I told the kids the other day that I'm really glad to be here," she said. "I'm really enjoying this."
Friday's rains played havoc with county schedules, especially for South Carroll's football team.
The unbeaten Cavaliers had their home game against Frederick postponed until 6:30 p.m. tomorrow. To avoid a short week, South Carroll and Urbana then shifted this week's scheduled game from Friday to Saturday.
Don't expect to see a lot of goals at a Westminster girls soccer game. New coach Terry Molloy realized quickly that his team's strength would be defense, so he has the Owls (2-1-2) trying to stay away from shootouts.
"I told them right away to be ready for [several] nil-nil or one-nil games," Molloy said. "We either shut out or get shut out."
Westminster already has had two scoreless ties, and both of its wins have come by shutout. Its only loss also was a shutout. The Owls have scored just three goals while allowing only three, all of which came in one game.
Jeff Seidel contributed to this article.