Hillory Dean, South River's new girls soccer coach, had just made the final cuts for his 18-player varsity roster.
"At Anne Arundel, we only had to make one cut in the last five years. This is the first time I've had to make cuts in a long, long time," said Dean, the former assistant women's soccer coach at Anne Arundel Community College.
He resigned last month. Dean had actually been tapped three months earlier as successor to head coach Mike Miles -- who resigned in February -- but never assumed the head coaching responsibilities.
"I'm human, and if I made a mistake in evaluation, then I'll be fair and bring the player up from JV. They'll still have an opportunity to make varsity," added Dean.
"In two months, I'm anticipating that one or two of the JV players will be good enough to be on varsity and play. I don't want to bring them up, though, if they're not going to get playing time."
Dean accepted the position after James Schuck, the Seahawks' former coach, succeeded Miles as the head coach at AACC.As of Monday, just 14 players had been practicing for Schuck.
Butsince taking the helm a week and a half ago when 54 players greeted Dean on the first day of practice, he has been constantly on the move.
He's spent the most recent days chasing down medical informationon each of his players and gauging talent for his varsity roster. Asof yesterday, he hadn't found an assistant coach or had time to openthe box of uniforms.
"I'm still feeling my way around the school," said Dean, who, with no formal office to call his own, keeps planning material in a briefcase. "It's got all my schedules, my forms for all my players and my evaluation charts that I made up."
His charts monitor the players' skills, including ball control, passing ability, speed, aggressiveness, throw-ins and communication.
"I've giventhe seniors a lot of responsibility in practice," said Dean, who commutes 54 miles every day from Trappe, a town between Cambridge and Easton on the Eastern Shore.
"If a player is hurt, and I'm tending to her, I've got my back to some 52 players. Hopefully, we'll get a JVcoach pretty soon; that will make things a lot easier."
A 1978 Southern graduate, Dean grew up in Edgewater's Loch Haven community about two miles from South River.
"Back when I was playing, maybe 10 people would come to a game, and the football players hated us. But over the years, soccer has just bloomed down here," said Dean, who wasa three-year starting midfielder for then-coach Greg Carroll, now atSouth River as the boys head coach.
Carroll said, "Once I found out that Anne Arundel was losing Hillory, I knew we wanted him. So (Athletic Director Jim) Halluck and I got on the phone and got with him.
"The girls seem to think we've made the right choice. He's knowledgeable, well-skilled and aggressive -- just like he was as a player.He always wants to get better."
That includes putting his experiences at AACC behind him. He left the same week as the disclosure surfaced that the Pioneers used an ineligible player last September in New Jersey.
"I'm going to promote academics, and I'm going to be stern about that," said Dean. "With the good grades, a student can get ascholarship to a university and has a better chance at getting a good job down the road. Soccer's not going to get you a good job or a new house."
And as demanding as Dean's coaching transition has been,the 30-year-old says he wouldn't have it any other way.
"All the coaches have welcomed me, from football to field hockey," said Dean. "It's unbelievable how this athletic department works. I enjoy working with an honest, caring athletic department."
The Seahawks finished with a disappointing 3-9 record last year, including six one-goal losses. But Dean said he has a few key players on which to build a foundation.
"My goal is to be prepared for every team we come up against -- if we have to play a short game, it's a short game; if it's along game, it's a long game," Dean said.
"I'm going to try to open up the parents' eyes a little bit. South River will be a team to look at, I think, and I just hope the kids can grasp as much as I'm going to throw at them."