Graydon Webster, one of the county's more successful and respected girls basketball coaches, has resigned after nine years at Atholton.
Webster, frustrated by two straight losing seasons, also cited personal reasons for his decision.
"It's something I think I've got to do to help the program," saidWebster, a 45-year-old social studies teacher who has taught at Atholton for 21 years and coached girls basketball in some capacity for 16 years. Among county coaches, only Mount Hebron's Dave Greenberg andGlenelg's Chuck Struhar have coached varsity girls basketball longer.
"Someone needs to instill fresh blood and new ideas," added Webster, who compiled a 102-90 record. "I want the program to get back onthe map. The program hasn't done what I thought it should for the last two years, and I have to take some of the blame for it. I have no bitter feelings."
The past two seasons have put a strain on Webster. The Raiders suffered a 6-17 season last year, after the graduationof four-year star Sherri Orlosky. The Raiders got off to a fast start this year and seemed headed for the region playoffs, until injuriesand a five-game losing streak derailed them.
Thursday's season-ending, 51-38 loss to Wilde Lake -- which gave Atholton an 8-14 record for the season -- marked the Raiders' eighth defeat in nine games. But it was a humiliating, 82-33 defeat by Glenelg on Tuesday that sent Webster a final signal.
"The last three or four games we were really going downhill, but the bricks came down with (the Glenelg loss),"Webster said. "I can't seem to put a finger on it. I can't seem to generate any kind of consistency."
Although Webster is exiting on alosing note, he'll be remembered more for assembling some of the county's better teams during the 1980s and for coaching players like Tammy McCarthy and Orlosky. McCarthy went on to become an All-America player at UMBC in the mid-1980s. Orlosky, Atholton's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, is attending the University of Notre Dame on a basketball scholarship.
A native of Lonaconing in Allegany County, Webster came to Atholton in 1971. A few years later, he began a successful, seven-year stint as the school's junior varsity girls basketball coach. Webster's teams complied a 123-32 record that included back-to-back 20-0 seasons and a 46-game winning streak.
The Raiders struggled to a 1-19 record during Webster's first varsity season. From there, Atholton put together six straight winning seasons, including a five-year stretch from 1985 to 1990 when the Raiders went 75-31 andchallenged Mount Hebron several times for the county championship. Webster never won a county or state title.
"One of the very decent people, a real gentleman," said Chuck Struhar about Webster. Struhar,whose Glenelg teams have battled the Raiders in numerous close gamesover the years, counts Atholton as his top rival.
"He instilled alot of sportsmanship in his girls, and his teams were always disciplined," Struhar added. "Good coaches are hard to find, and Atholton isgoing to miss him. Girls basketball is going to miss him."
Webster said he hopes to return to coaching, possibly as an assistant on the junior college circuit. He said he would not coach next year.
"Ineed to see if I can get back that desire to teach, to learn and to motivate," he said. "There's enough quality here in every girl to be successful. I've coached a class act."