As a certified public accountant, Jerry Tobin's livelihood is helping businessmen maximize their financial potential.
So in his five years as the coach of the St. Mary's girls soccer team, Tobin has just done what comes naturally. He has helped his Saints maximize their potential on the soccer field.
"He's a tremendous, excellent motivator," said St. Mary's athletic director Carmine Blades. "He knows how to help players improve on their personal skills and that's one of the best assets a coach can have. He's done an outstanding job over the years."
"Coach gets the most out of the people he coaches," said senior team captain Laura Coakley, a three-year starter. "He stresses hard work and that the execution will come if you continue to show dedication and work hard."
Dedication, said Blades, is a characteristic that is personified in Tobin, the Anne Arundel County Sun's 1990 Coach of the Year.
This year Tobin coached the Saints (15-3) to their second consecutive regular-season Baltimore Catholic League title and their third straight runner-up finish in the league tournament.
"He shows total enthusiasm for his program," Blades said. "For every senior player on his team, he wrote a letter to the colleges of their choice. He takes a great deal of interest in the girls both on and off the field."
It's hard to believe that Tobin nearly passed up the position five years ago. The girls soccer program was just 3 years old when former coach Don Treacy stepped down. Tobin, then an assistant, balked at the idea of coaching two of his daughters.
"Buffy was a freshman and Tracy was an eighth-grader who was coming to play the next year," said Tobin. "I honestly thought that my daughters should have a different coach. I thought long and hard about it and talked it over with my daughters before I took the job."
Coakley, for one, is glad Tobin took the job.
"He's like a father figure," said Coakley. "With him, you know that the lines of communication are always open. You could always go to him when you had a problem."
Today, Tobin has an overall 70-19-11 record as head coach. Although the Saints posted their best record (16-1-1) a year ago, Tobin said this year was particularly satisfying.
In all, Tobin lost 11 seniors to graduation -- nine of whom were starters -- including a three-year starting goalkeeper and Tracy Tobin, last year's Anne Arundel County Sun Player of the Year.
In addition, the league was realigned into a new strong conference/weak conference format that made St. Mary's strength of schedule more difficult.
The Saints played against tougher competition with only five returning starters on a team laden with underclassmen.
"We had to play all of the strong teams twice instead of once and none of the weak teams," said Tobin. "This year's team was talented but it was young and generally inexperienced. The thing we had to deal with the most was having ups and downs from half to half and game to game."
Tobin, 47, grew up in Detroit, where he attended Detroit Catholic Central High. A heart murmur prevented him from ever playing organized sports as a youngster.
"I couldn't participate in the repetitive practice situations from day to day," said Tobin. "But I did play a lot of alley-ball -- pickup football, baseball and basketball games."
Tobin recalled his first experience as a coach about 10 years ago.
"My son (Rob, now playing at St. Mary's) was about 6 years old playing at the clinic level when I got dragged into coaching his team," said Tobin.
"I had never even seen a soccer ball, so my co-coach and I went and got a book on soccer and put that together with the concepts I had developed from other sports."
But Tobin's lack of formal athletic background didn't stop the coach from using his uniquely innovative character and a little linear thinking.
"In sports," said Tobin. "There is an object -- generally a ball -- and the offense has to somehow get the ball past the defense using something, either a foot, your hands or a stick. A simple head fake or a pick and roll usually works."
For a start, that was good enough for Tobin, whose charges made the most of two goals in seven games.
"We won one game and had six ties and still won the league championship," said Tobin. "I guess we learned to play defense first."
Since then, Tobin's coaching skills have blossomed. Tobin is in his sixth season as a mentor of the Severna Park Green Hornets club team in the Washington Area Girls Soccer League. He has coached former All-County standouts Gina Roberts, Betsy Elder and Erika Mawhorr of Severna Park.
This Saturday, Tobin will take the Hornets' under-19 squad to Raleigh, N.C., where it will try to defend its title in the Raleigh Shootout tournament.
By far, however, Tobin said the accomplishments of this year's youthful St. Mary's squad weigh as his highest achievement.
Said Tobin: "Laura Coakley is a good example. Just watching a wide-eyed freshman walk out as an experienced senior makes coaching at St. Mary's very fulfilling."