Few high school athletes possess the ability to play two sports at aDivision I college level, but Wilde Lake senior Renita Young is one of them, her coaches say.
Young, 18, has starred in soccer and basketball since her freshman year for the Wildecats, although a knee injury forced her to miss her sophomore soccer season.
She is ranked as one of the leading soccer scorers in the Baltimore area, with eight goals and three assists. So far she has received several letters from Division I colleges trying to attract her.
"She can definitely play Division I soccer," Wilde Lake soccer coach Rick Wilson said. Her basketball coach says she's just as adept in thatsport.
Because of her speed and uncanny knack for scoring, she ismarked in every game. Opponents usually double-team, and sometimes even triple-team, her.
Since recovering from stretched ligaments inher right knee, an injury that put her on crutches for two months, she has worn a 1-pound metal knee brace for protection during games. The brace reaches from the middle of her calf to the middle of her thigh and looks huge on the 5-foot-2, 125-pound Young.
She estimates that the brace has caused her speed to drop by as much as 20 percent."But I need the brace because the next time I hurt the knee I'll probably need surgery," she said. To strengthen the knee, Young lifts weights three times a week.
"It's holding up for me, but sometimes it feels weak after practice," she said.
Young electrified fans during her freshman year, when she scored 21 goals and had five assists.
She was every opposing coach's worst nightmare.
"Her speed caught everyone's eye," Wilson said. "Although she's lost some speed because of the injury, she has learned to be a team player this year. She's taken her game to a higher level and learned how to use her support people."
Translated, that means Young is passing the ball more and doesn't feel she has to score every goal.
Last year, when she scored 13 goals and had seven assists, she
frequently was the loneforward in Wilde Lake's lineup. If Renita didn't score, the 'Cats didn't score.
"We have a more talented team this year and that takessome pressure off Renita," Wilson said. "She's having much more fun this year. And she no longer relies solely on her speed but has developed some fakes and moves."
In past years, Wilde Lake would simplykick the ball high and long, then let Young run it down and kick it into the net.
But this year the team's ability to create a passinggame is clearly evident.
"Lindsay Waxler and Nikki Krupp at forward and Reny Trellis at midfield have taken a lot of pressure off me,"Young said. "I know that if I pass it to them they can get it back to me or else they can score. Our team is more skilled this year."
Sometimes when Young is being marked, Wilson moves her from forward to midfield to take one of the opposing fullbacks out of position and open the field for other Wildecats to score.
Young, who has a strong will to win and sometimes a strong temper to match it, gets frustrated when she is double-teamed and shut down from scoring.
"But I've gotten used to it now," she said. "I feel good when I can pass."
Young says she improved her passing game greatly by playing for theBethesda Peppers last summer. The Peppers finished second in state cup play.
"My coach there, Brad Roos, taught me that I don't have to do everything myself," she said. "We had players that were more skilled than me."
Her basketball coach at Wilde Lake, Dave Nesbitt, speaks glowingly of Young.
"She's a super person and an outstandingathlete," he said. "And she has what a lot of athletes wish they had-- the will to win."
Nesbitt, who will not coach basketball this season, says he thinks she can play Division I in either basketball or soccer.
"I don't think the knee will be a factor if she continues her rehab."
Young, who is also double-teamed in basketball, has averaged in the 15- to 18-point range since freshman year while playing point guard.
She says she would prefer to play basketball in college because she thinks it would be easier on her knee than soccer.
The 'Cats won only one basketball game last season, which was hardfor the highly competitive Young to swallow.
But soccer season has been lots of fun. The 'Cats have won all five non-league games and should have at least a shot at a state title.
"Renita is just a dream player to coach," Wilson said. "I can coach defense, but I can't coach the knack Renita has for putting the ball in the goal."