COLLEGE PARK -- Dick Edell thinks about it sometimes, and this week it is on his mind more than usual. Where would he be and what would he be doing, he wonders, if it were not for Carl Runk?
The two men go way back together. It will be for only a few hours Saturday that they will be enemies, when Edell's team (Maryland) meets Runk's (Towson State) in the semifinals of the NCAA lacrosse tournament at Syracuse.
Edell came out of Dundalk High to become an NCAA Division II All-America midfielder at Towson State in 1967, the year before Runk arrived as coach. Runk hired Edell to coach the Towson freshmen team in 1968.
"What if Carl never gave me the opportunity?" Edell said. "I was teaching phys ed at Bear Creek Elementary School in southeast Baltimore. I coached the freshmen team for two years, and got experience as a head coach that some guys never get.
"This game Saturday, this matchup with Carl and Towson, has a lot of emotional meaning for me."
In the late 1970s, when Edell was at Army, he was named coach of the North all-star team that was to play Runk's South squad at Ithaca, N.Y. Runk's team was thin, partly because it included nobody from Johns Hopkins, whose players had taken a postseason trip.
"My North team was loaded," Edell said, cackling at the memory. "We had a lot of players from Cornell, which was the national champion."
Edell worked his team only an hour a day, while Runk drilled the South in lengthy two-a-day sessions. At a chamber of commerce dinner the night before the game, the coaches were asked to introduce their teams, including the trainers who had been provided by Cornell.
"Dick, what's the name of my trainer?" Runk whispered.
Edell didn't know, but he devilishly gave Runk a name anyway: Billy Hayes.
"And now," Runk said, "I'd like to introduce our trainer, Billy Hayes."
No one stepped forward. "C'mon, Billy," Runk said. No response. Finally, the trainer, whose real name has been lost in antiquity, spoke up, to Runk's everlasting mortification.
"After all I did for your team, Carl, tending to the players six hours a day, working in the rain and everything, you mean you can't remember my name?" the fellow said.
Edell is still waiting for Runk's retaliatory strike.
From coach of the Towson State freshmen, Edell went to Calvert Hall -- "Carl helped me get that job, too" -- where his team tied St. Paul's for the MSA championship in 1971. In 1972, Calvert Hall stormed through the season unbeaten.
Caught in the wave of a 12-person faculty cutback at Calvert Hall, Edell bounced to the University of Baltimore for four years. In 1977 Army beckoned, and Dave Slafkosky joined him as his defensive coordinator.
It was their custom to take the Army team to Key West, Fla., where they could stay inexpensively at a military base, for conditioning during spring break. One night during the 1982 trip the players went out and got their ears pierced, to the annoyance of the lacrosse team's officer representative.
"Dick made a bet with the players that if they beat Johns Hopkins, he'd get his ears pierced, too," said Slafkosky, who's now with Edell at Maryland. "In his wildest dreams, he never thought we'd beat Hopkins, but we did, by one goal.
"Well, Dick got his ears pierced, borrowed his wife's earrings and walked into the dining hall. The kids went crazy. That's Edell -- anything to motivate the team."
Edell hesitates to name his favorite team in his eight years at Maryland, but admits he has an "affinity" for the 1987 club. The Terps went 11-0 during the regular season and went to the NCAA tournament semifinals before losing, to Johns Hopkins. It was less than a year after the Maryland campus had been rocked by the death of Len Bias.
"The focus the players maintained, with those bombs going off around them, was amazing," Edell said. "I cried after we lost to Hopkins, not because we lost but because we would never be together as a unit again."
Edell isn't sure what the players learned from him that year. But he feels he learned a lot from them.