High School sports

Gehrdes steps down as Annapolis girls' lacrosse coach

Annapolis' coach David Gehrdes watches his team perform from the sideline during a game against Southern last season at Annapolis High School.

There's plenty for David Gehrdes to be proud of as he looks back on his 23 years as head coach of the Annapolis High girls lacrosse team.

Whether it was the three state titles, never having a losing or even .500 season, the countless players who have gone on to play at the next level, or coaching his three daughters, one word described his career the best way.


"Fulfilling," said Gehrdes, who has stepped down as the Panthers' head coach.

Gehrdes, who will remain athletic director at Annapolis, recently hired former player and volunteer assistant coach Traci (Phipps) Nelson as his successor. Nelson played for Gehrdes from 2000-2003 and was a four-year starter for Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. She was the Old Dominion Athletic Conference rookie of the year in 2004 and was a three-time first team All-ODAC selection before graduating in 2007.


"She was gritty and aggressive on attack and would take on anyone," Gehrdes said. "Obviously, I remember Traci very well. I know she will do great."

Gehrdes led the Panthers to state titles in 1996, 1998 and 1999 and finals appearances in 2002 and 2003. Annapolis won nine region titles during his tenure, and just last year he joined a select group when he recorded career victory No. 300.

"We've been lucky enough to be extremely successful," Gehrdes said. "I had some wonderful assistant coaches and players."

Along the way, Gehrdes also had the opportunity to coach his three daughters - Katie, Emily and Erin.

"They earned their spots and they spent their time on the bench when they were freshman and sophomores," Gehrdes said. "It was very rewarding and I had a lot of wonderful experiences with them."

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When Gehrdes was honored for victory No. 300 last season, the celebration actually took place at the school after a loss to Southern that left Gehrdes stuck on 299 wins. He achieved the milestone a week later with a victory over Northeast.

"To get number 300 was wonderful and just shows the tradition we've had here. They all loved playing the game," Gehrdes said.

Nelson, who was a volunteer assistant under Gehrdes last year after she returned the area, coached Mary Institute Country Day School in St. Louis, Missouri to state titles in 2013 and 2014 after leading the team to the state final in 2012. The state title in 2013 helped earn her Missouri Lacrosse Coach of the Year honors.


"It was perfect timing," Nelson said, on her return to Annapolis. "It's awesome to be back where I'm from and coach the team I used to play for."

Nelson lives in Annapolis with her husband, Phil. The couple has a 2-year-old son and a daughter that is five weeks old.

"I learned to play lacrosse from him, so to come back and replace him is some huge shoes to fill," Nelson said. "It is a lot of pressure, but I will work hard to keep the tradition moving in a positive direction."

Gehrdes is the second girls' lacrosse coach in the county to step down this offseason after a tenure of at least 20 years, joining Severn's Renie Sotiropoulos. Kaitlyn Fuller took over as the Severna Park girls coach this past season following the retirement of Carin Peterson after 25 years. Southern's Arvak Marshall, who just completed his ninth year, is now the county's longest-tenured girls' lacrosse coach in the county.