Neil Gwinn, the new Glenelg High School girls varsity soccer coach, won't hear the cheers when one of his players scores a goal. Then again, he won't hear any catcalls from the stands, either.
Gwinn is legally deaf.
But he says it won't be a deterrent in leading Glenelg.
"If you want to do something, you can do it. It's that attitude that allowsyou to carry it over in sports and life," Gwinn, a Baltimore resident, said. "If you put your mind to it, you can do it. I have not been held back yet."
Gwinn said a system has been implemented at Glenelg that makes communicating with his players easy.
"The kids are very understanding about it," he said. "Right from the beginning, I letthem know I had a hearing impairment."
Gwinn can't hear his players from distances of more than five feet, he says. But when a player wants to communicate with the coach during a game, the player will either relay a hand signal to him or send a message through a player onthe sidelines.
Gwinn, 26, is looking forward to coaching the Gladiators.
"I like the varsity because the players are more serious about soccer. I have always wanted to get the opportunity to coach on the varsity level," said Gwinn, who uses two hearing aids. "It's exciting because you get the program you want. You get to choose your ownstyle of play."
Gwinn replaces Dean Sheridan, who resigned in June. The squad started practice Aug. 15 and opens the season tomorrow at Walkersville. Glenelg went 5-6-1 last season and lost to Middletown, 2-1 in the state quarterfinals.
"I would like Glenelg to be known for soccer in Howard County," Gwinn said.
He played four years in college, two at Western Maryland as a forward and two seasons at Mitchell Junior college in New London, Conn., as a stopper. He also played some goalie in 1984 and captured team MVP that season.
In 1986, Gwinn played the full season despite having torn cartilage in his knee. That season he was named "unsung hero" of the squad. Gwinn also was named MVP forward in 1985.
"His soccer background is excellent," Glenelg Athletic Director Mike Williams said. "He was a good player for me at Western Maryland college. His personality is well-suited for coaching. He is patient, yet he's capable of being demanding and asserting discipline."
At Smithtown High School West on Long Island, N.Y., Gwinn played soccer for four seasons. His sophomore year Gwinn made team MVP. Two seasons later, as a senior, he was named to an all-tournament team.
Gwinn says his best soccer experience was hisparticipation on the 1989 U.S. team for the deaf at the World Games in New Zealand. In eight games that year, Gwinn posted seven goals andfive assists.
Last season, Gwinn coached the Glenelg JV boys soccer and the JV wrestling teams. He also coached 9- to 12-year-old boysin a Baltimore County Recreation soccer league from 1986-1989.
When Glenelg plays its last game in November, the season will be far from over, Gwinn says.
"There is more to it than coaching in the fall," Gwinn said. "I try to send a message to the players to play all year round because Howard County is so strong in soccer. I plan on getting some of the players involved in spring teams."
Gwinn holds a bachelor's degree in physical education and a master's degree in counseling from Western Maryland. He works as a guidance counselor in Carroll County at Uniontown and Elmer Wolfe elementary schools.