One was ahead of her time on the athletic field while another was a key player on a team that never lost a game in four years. One is an athletic director, though she never played high school or college sports.
And the fourth has gone where no other field hockey player in Howard County has gone before.
All four — Megan Bosica Samperton, Jean Vanderpool, Jill Marple McCabe and Alyssa Parker — will be inducted into the Howard County Women’s Athletics Hall of Fame on Feb. 3. The ceremony will be held after the girls varsity basketball game at Centennial High School that is scheduled to tip at 5 p.m. The Hall of Fame began in 1997, and since then, 86 women and men and one team — the 1980 Mt. Hebron girls basketball team — have been inducted.
Here’s a look at this year’s inductees:
Megan Bosica Samperton, Mt. Hebron, 2006
To get a glimpse of the impact Samperton had on athletics at Mt. Hebron, just look for her jersey in the showcase reserved for athletes who left their mark. Her jersey was retired in 2006, Megan’s senior year, when she was inducted into the Vikings’ Hall of Fame.
Fittingly, she wore No. 1.
A midfielder in lacrosse, Megan led her team to the No. 1 national ranking in 2003, 2005 and 2006. Along the way, Mt. Hebron won four straight county championships and four straight state titles. Samperton’s teams never lost a game.
Her coach, Brooke Kuhl-McClelland, said, “Meggie Bo is quite possibly the best player in Vikings lacrosse history. Meggie thrived in big games and this is when her most impressive feats were revealed, to the delight of spectators, and even her coaches. I can’t tell you the number of times I would shake my head in awe.”
Samperton is “unparalleled in the things she has accomplished athletically, but it was her humility that set her apart from any athlete I have ever coached.”
Named two-time player of the year by the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and the Columbia Flier/Howard County Times, the Vikings player said she is proud of her high school days.
“Never losing a game for a public school playing the top private schools and getting the top ranking, I think that’s pretty impressive,” Samperton said.
Samperton also was a two-time winner of the Heather Leigh Albert award, given to the top player in the nation at the national lacrosse tournament that showcases the top club teams.
“Opponents attempted to cover her, even faceguard her, but she could evade them with deceptive moves and end with a wicked shot that looks like a heat-seeking missile,” said her coach. But, she added, Samperton was a “strong, independent, well-spoken role model. Meggie was never about the stats. She could have easily padded them, but chose to assist and feed her teammates, even if she was in a better place.”
Samperton continued her game at the next level.
She was recruited by lacrosse powerhouses Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, but ultimately chose North Carolina.
“I was always a Terp fan but when I stepped on that field at North Carolina, that was it,” she said.
She set a Tar Heels record in 2008 for most assists in a season (26) and, now 10 years later, is still fifth on that list. When she graduated in 2010, she was tied for the most games played (82). She’s also third on the Tar Heels’ list for career assists (77).
“I never went into a game to get so many goals. The game just came to me. I liked to create the plays,” Samperton said.
Samperton was a team captain for two years and earned All-America and All-ACC team awards twice. The Tar Heels reached the NCAA championship game in 2009 but lost to Northwestern.
Surprisingly, lacrosse wasn’t her only sport. As a junior for the Vikings, she stepped onto a field hockey field for the first time and went on to earn first-team honors by the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post.
Jeannette Ireland, her coach, thought there was no way such an inexperienced player could contribute. “Boy, did she put that thought to rest! She was amazing as a player. She was a hard worker and she played hard.”
Today, she’s a recruiter for Marriott International and will take some time off this spring to help her sister-in-law, Corey Samperton, coach lacrosse at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C. It will be her first time on a lacrosse field as a coach.
Samperton looks back at the impact sports has had on her life with gratitude. “I don’t think I would have the friends, the relationships that I‘ve been able to build over the years, without sports. They’ve helped make me the person I am today. Sports built my character. I don’t know what I would be today without being an athlete.”
Jean Vanderpool, Centennial administrator
Jean Vanderpool has taken a circuitous path to get to where she is now — the athletics and activities manager at Centennial High School.
“I was the only girl in math classes in high school. At East Carolina (University), I was the only girl in math classes,” she said. “My mother told me I should get a business degree and use my math.”
And she did.
But the only jobs she could find for a woman with such skills in the 1970s were as a secretary or typist. “I didn’t know shorthand and I didn’t type,” said Vanderpool, who later earned master’s degrees in education (McDaniel College) and economics (Johns Hopkins).
Eventually she got a job at North Carolina State as an information specialist for the school’s football team coached by Lou Holtz.
“I would type a story and drive it to TV stations,” she said.
But other than playing tennis at a local club her parents belonged to, that was as close as Vanderpool got to sports until she arrived in Howard County.
“I grew up in a very, very small town in North Carolina. There were only two sports for girls at the time at my high school — softball and basketball. I was 5-foot-2, so I didn’t play basketball and I don’t know why but I didn’t play softball.”
But tennis eventually got her to where she is now.
Vanderpool, who started teaching at Glenelg in 1977, coached tennis there for nine years. She was named teacher of the year during her 22 years there and set up the county’s first teaching computer system in 1986. By 2000, she had moved to Centennial and was named athletic director in 2004, making her only the third woman in the county to hold that title. In 2006, the county changed the job description to athletics and activities manager.
She’s served as the chairperson for the county tennis tournament since 2001 and coordinates the county’s tennis program. Vanderpool has also served as the District V tennis representative and is the chairperson of the state tennis committee that puts on the annual state tournament.
This week, Vanderpool was in Indianapolis as a conference committee member of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and the National Federation of State High School Associations.
There have been other achievements along the way.
In 2004, Vanderpool was named tennis Coach of the Year by both the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post.
In 2014, Vanderpool was awarded the Day of the Girl, G.I.R.L. P.O.W.E.R award for inspiring girls and breaking barriers in the workplace. In 2017, she was named District V Athletic Director of the Year.
Looking back at her long career, Vanderpool says she is most proud of “being able to work with thousands of athletes and watching them make lifetime memories and grow into outstanding young men and women.”
But she hasn’t forgotten that small school in North Carolina that only had two sports programs for girls.
“During my career as an athletic administrator, I have been fully invested in Title IX activities to ensure that the girls’ programs were truly equal. I have valued all sports — big and small — and gave each of them respect.”
Alyssa Parker, Glenelg, 2012
When asked what she does as a living, Alyssa Parker can proudly say she’s a professional athlete. OK, so a fair number of women can say that. But in field hockey?
Indeed. Parker was selected to the U.S. Women’s National Field Hockey Team in 2016, even before she completed her stellar hockey career at the University of Maryland. She now plays on the national hockey team. She says she is proud to “have the opportunity to wear the red, white and blue.”
The team trains twice a day, almost every day, nonstop, year-round.
“I love the routine. I’m so tired (at the end of the day), but I’m working with my teammates and we are all working together,” Parker said.
And Parker thrives in her job. There are perks to balance the work — the team has already been to New Zealand. And for the next month, Parker will be in sunny California at a training facility. But her travel plans also include Tokyo in 2020 for the summer Olympic Games.
“Field hockey is a technical game. It’s finesse as well as power and strength, but it’s also a team sport. You have to learn to work with your teammates,” she said, explaining her love of the sport.
“It’s crazy where this sport has taken me.”
Like most Howard County youngsters, Parker tried lots of different sports. In third grade, she started playing hockey with the Howard Stampede, a club program started by her mother, Jean.
“I hated it,” Parker admitted. “It was too slow. With a stick in your hand, it took time to develop. I liked soccer. It was much faster.” But she stuck with hockey so she could play alongside her older sister, Maria.
By middle school, she was still playing basketball, soccer and hockey. And in high school, she played all four years on varsity in basketball and hockey even though she was encouraged by some just to focus on hockey.
Parker was named to the first-team All-County all four years of her field hockey career at Glenelg and was the Player of the Year three times by the Columbia Flier/Howard County Times. As a sophomore she was first-team All-Metro by the Baltimore Sun. As a junior and senior, she earned All-State honors and was first-team All-America as a senior.
“Alyssa is the best field hockey player that I ever coached. She was an impact player at Glenelg from the moment she walked on the field,” said coach Ginger Kincaid. “She was a great leader who knew how to bring out the best in all the players around her. She was an unselfish player who would just as soon assist a teammate as to be the goal scorer.”
Parker scored 107 goals and had 103 assists at Glenelg. She’s only the second player in National Field Hockey Coaches Association history to reach the benchmark of 100 goals and 100 assists. Those numbers helped Glenelg win to two state championships during her career.
“She had the ability to put the team on her back when it was necessary and carry them to win championships,” Kincaid said.
“I’m very proud of the 2010 team for winning states for the first time in Glenelg’s school history and a repeat state title in 2011. I’m incredibly honored we were able to accomplish that for coach Kincaid,” Parker added.
At Maryland on a full scholarship, she earned National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s All-Region Team, the All-Big Ten Academic list, the All-ACC Academic Team. And in 2014, she earned the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. Maryland was the ACC champions in 2013, the Big Ten champions in 2015 and reached the NCAA final four twice.
And now, Kincaid said Parker inspires others to enjoy the game she loves so much.
“When little girls wait on the field to get her signature, I have watched her surprise them by asking them to sign her stick as well,” Kincaid said.
Jill Marple McCabe, Mt. Hebron, 1987
If there is one athlete who was ahead of her time, it is Jill Marple McCabe.
She earned a full athletic scholarship in lacrosse even before Howard County offered the sport for girls at the high school level.
And she can thank former Mt. Hebron coach P.J. Kesmodel — and her own persistence — for that.
Kesmodel was involved in the Hero’s Lacrosse League that included girls teams. Girls lacrosse would not become a high school sport until 1988, yet he saw something in her and knew she belonged in the goal cage and in a lacrosse uniform.
McCabe was a three-sport athlete — field hockey, basketball and softball — at Mt. Hebron before eventually dropping all but hockey to concentrate on lacrosse. As a junior, she tried out for the Junior Olympics hockey team. And as a senior, her classmates voted her “most athletic female.”
“When I was a senior, P.J. told me he could get me an athletic scholarship. I quit softball so I could work with him. He was my mentor, my coach, a father figure to me,” said McCabe. “If not for P.J., I would not have had a full scholarship to Temple.
“He made me believe I could be an incredible goalkeeper.”
At Temple, she was fortunate to play for women who also mentored her. In hockey, one goalie coach was Sue Stahl, who had played in the Olympics. Another was Gwen Cheeseman-Alexander who helped the U.S. win a bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics.
Today, she’s still a fierce competitor, though she’s changed sports and now runs marathons. She plays some golf and she’s training for her first half-Ironman triathlon. She is a clothing designer and founder of Truth BE Worn, a fashionable and wearable intention apparel company.
Looking back, Temple got a pretty good deal — “a lot of bang for the buck,” she said. Her scholarship was for both hockey and lacrosse. That meant she was playing or training almost year-round, one sport or the other.
Being a goalie appealed to McCabe because it was “an intelligent position.”
“I liked to play it intelligently. It’s a very aggressive position, not just reactive. You have to be smart, you have to read the defense,” she explained. “You’ve got to want (opponents) to shoot on you. ‘Shoot on me! Let me shut you down!’”
Today, she occasionally does private coaching for free, and that “intelligence” is what she stresses.
Her drive to be the best has extended beyond the playing field.
Reach Brent Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports