For years the girls varsity soccer program at Oakland Mills high school has been a perennial contender for the state title.
The team has won five county titles and four state championships and made numerous other appearances in the state finals and semifinals.
Oakland Mills' coach, Cythia Odell, stepped down in June and took123 victories over 12 seasons with her.
But the new coach, Nancy Shea, 38, appointed earlier this month, is ready to carry forward theprogram's winning tradition.
"It is a real challenge to fill the shoes of someone who was such a fantastic coach. I am real excited toget involved in the program," the Ellicott City resident said. "Withthe winning tradition that she built, we should still remain a strong competitor in the county."
Shea built an impressive mark while coaching the Oakland Mills junior varsity girls soccer team, posting a17-3-4 record for two seasons (1989 and 1990).
The experience, she says, will help her with the varsity squad.
"As far as knowing the players, I had most of them on the JV level," said Shea, who worksat Maryland Orthopedics in Ellicott City part time. "Being an assistant helped me learn the program at Oakland Mills."
Shea is far from being short on prior coaching experience.
In addition to JV job,she coached a neighborhood soccer team in Cecil County in 1979 and 1980 and a traveling squad, the Cecil Rebels, from 1980 to 1982.
"Ithink she comes from a good soccer background, with Don (her husband) coaching the boys," Oakland Mills Athletic Director Ken Klock said."They live, eat and drink soccer. That's their whole life."
Shea also has coached two other sports.
From 1980 to 1981, she coached a YMCA swimming team in Elkton. She also ran the gymnastics team at Oakland Mills from 1987 to 1988.
Shea did not play soccer in high school because the school didn't offer it, but she swam and played basketball. In college at Slippery Rock she took soccer classes, played water polo and was a cheerleader for the men's soccer team.
Although she has never played on a soccer team, she says the lack of experience is not a disadvantage. She says she has learned the sport by watching games for 21 years.
"There are great soccer players that cannot teach the game," said the mother of three.
"But I don't believe you have to be able to perform a skill to teach it."