Howard's Kristi Greer remembers where it all began.
The 5-foot-6 senior referees instructional league basketball in Columbia for the 8-9 and 10-11-year-old girls.
"You blow the whistle, stop the game and explain your call," said Greer. "They're really cute. And you constantly have to remind the little ones to tie their shoelaces."
Most, Greer admitted, probably don't know who she is, or what she has achieved in sports at Howard since graduating from those same recreation leagues. If so, it's a shame, for Greer is a versatile role model.
Greer began playing soccer at age 8 and played with Howard County's best in age-group club soccer. Last week, the Maryland Association of Coaches of Soccer honored her at the annual MACS banquet, naming her to the All-State team.
"I grew up playing with most of the others honored at that banquet," said Greer.
Greer did not own a tennis racket last spring when she took up the sport and played for Howard.
"I was horrible, but I got better," she said. "I started out at No. 12 [singles], but by the end of the season, my results counted."
The top eight count in team matches, and she was playing No. 7 as well as doubles before the season ended.
"Tennis is a lifetime sport," said Greer. "I don't know whether I'll play it again this spring, but I can always come back to it later in life."
Greer began playing basketball in sixth grade, but really fell in love with the sport two years ago. That was about the same time she discovered soccer games were fun, but practice was a chore.
"I love going to basketball practice," she said. "Coach [Craig] O'Connell showed me what I needed to do to improve, and I have enjoyed working at it."
Greer's outside shooting was one area in need of improvement. She loved to drive to the basket, but her shooting percentage hovered at 30 percent last season. O'Connell pointed out that she needed to jump straight up and release the ball, as opposed to jumping off balance before her shots.
"Kristi worked on that over the summer and is averaging just under 20 points a game and 42 percent from the floor," said O'Connell. "She has made herself into a quality shooter from 17 feet and in. That's one reason we have gotten off to a good start in the county [5-2, 10-5 overall]."
Indeed, Greer had a career-high 34 points against Edgewood, but called her 31-point effort against Wilde Lake more memorable.
"That's the game I shot 70 percent from the floor and went over 1,000 career points," she said. She needs less than 100 to become the school's all-time scoring leader.
Last night, she scored 15 more as Howard was edged by No. 4 Oakland Mills, 50-48.
Last summer, after making the all-star team at Cathy Rush's summer camp, college recruiters began to notice.
"I'm considering Radford, Towson State, Virginia Commonwealth, UMBC, Stetson, Shippensburg and North Carolina Wesleyan," said Greer, who can boast of a 3.14 grade-point average. "I want to study business or accounting and play basketball. And, some day, I want to be a coach."