How many head coaches should a county track team have?
Well, supposedly two -- one boys head coach and one girls head coach.
Officially, anyway, that's how it's supposed to be, says Earl Hersh, the supervisor of physical education and athletics for the Board of Education.
Informally, that's not the way it's usually done. Frequently, one coach emerges as the head coach and the two coaches (along with one assistant coach each) split duties along the lines of the events.
Often, the head coach has either the longest tenure among the group or is the one that teaches at the school.
Take FrancisScott Key as an example.
John Seaman is the head boys coach, but also is, in effect, the head coach. He knows what's going on with both teams and, in fact, helps devise the strategy for both teams.
Tom Hill is the official girls head coach and certainly knows what's going on with the team -- he and Seaman work closely together -- but Hill teaches at West Middle School in Westminster and doesn't have the longevity of Seaman, a math teacher at Key who's been coaching for 20years.
But the two-head coach system has a reason -- someone has to be responsible for team discipline. If there's a problem, someone has to be accountable. And with as many as 150 athletes (that's how many came out at Westminster this year), it's best to split the administrative headaches, too.
Problem is, if a team does well, you haveto split the credit, too, and that's where this business of exactly who is the head coach gets sticky.
It cropped up with two county schools while we were doing our track previews. Our track formats are set up to denote two head coaches -- one for the boys and one for thegirls -- in keeping with official county policy.
(The situation is different in cross county and tennis, where schools have some flexibility in hiring one or two head coaches.)
But a couple of coachesbalked, insisting they were the head coach of both teams. One said that's the interpretation he had gotten from his athletic director andprincipal.
The motivating factor here is ego, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. As one coach told me, "All of us coaches must have an ego. We're certainly not in it for the money."
Still, if thecounty says there ought to be separate boys and girls head coaches, the schools probably ought to oblige. If ego's the problem, then justcall the two head coaches "co-coaches."
That way, if either the boys or the girls do well, they can share in the honors.
Actually, North Carroll used to carry that philosophy to the extreme. When Henry Adami and Steve Guthrie were the head coaches, Adami used to ask usto include photos of the two assistant coaches, too.
In their system, all four were equal.
Of course, stuffing four coaches' mug shots into a preview wasn't workable, and Adami and Guthrie -- the official head coaches -- wound up with their faces in the paper.
And that's how we think it ought to be done all the time.
RandolphWestphal came through Carroll County Friday, but he wasn't your average German tourist.
The resident of Nidderau, Germany (near Frankfurt), and his 80-pound companion Sher Kahn (a malamute dog) are cycling across the United States, trying to raise money for cancer research. The dog travels either on foot or in a small trailer attached to the bike.
Westphal himself has had skin cancer. He said he's making the trip to raise awareness about the disease and what people with cancer can accomplish. He started the trip once before in early 1990,and made it through New York, New England, the Canadian provinces and Alaska before returning to Germany for a second cancer operation.
He started again in March in New York, worked his way to Philadelphia and reached Gettysburg Thursday night before coming through Carroll via Route 97 on his way to the Washington area Friday. From there, the itinerary is Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Washington state.
He has been helped financially by a free flight from Lufthansa, the German carrier, a $1,300 donation from a health club back home and the good graces of people along the way who offer him food or a place to pitch his tent. After Sher Kahn got a piece of glass stuck in his foot in Philadelphia, a veterinarian stitched the cut for free.
"I have a lot of good friendsin Germany," he added. "They help me out a lot."
Westphal alreadyhas has made several long trips around Europe, but he said he's hoping to break into the Guiness Book of World Records with this trip across the country.
More importantly, he said, he's hoping to raise awareness for cancer patients and money for the American Cancer Society.
"Don't sit in the corner and wait for your death," he said. "Open your eyes and lift your head. The world is beautiful."
He said he isn't officially sponsored by the American Cancer Society (he saidthey feared insurance liability in case of an accident), but said he'd rather travel alone with Sher Kahn and not with a trailer following behind and a police car leading the way.
But he left one very important message as he prepared to leave Westminster and head to SouthCarroll and Howard County on the way to the nation's capital:
"Please donate to your local unit of the American Cancer Society in my name. Thanks."
And thank you, too, Randolph Westphal.