Paul Ellis has known only one speed in his 31 years of coaching boysbasketball -- full out.
But at 58, the distinguished coaching warhorse says he can maintain that pace no longer, and will not return to coach the Wilde Lake Wildecats next year.
His days this season were long. They started at 6:15 a.m. and often lasted until 10:15 p.m.
The banning of night games by Superintendent Michael Hickey starting next season left Ellis between a rock and a hard place.
He's bound by contract to work until 3:15 at Glenelg, where he is a guidance counselor. Getting to afternoon games in time would be a gigantic hassle next year, he said.
He will continue his job at Glenelg.
"It's tough to switch gears from counselor to coach so swiftly in the afternoon," Ellis said. "And the kids deserve to have someone who's at the school all day.
"It's been a way of life for me for so long, I'm sure I'll have regrets, but I have one grandchild and another on the way, so that should keep me busy," Ellis said.
Ellis' teams twice won the county championship. His Atholton team won it in 1972 and his Glenelg team in 1977. Wilde Lake earned a regional championship under his direction.
But a state championship trophy always eluded him. Wilde Lake lost in the state Class 2A semifinals in 1991 on a last-second shot.
During the past threeyears he directed the Wilde Lake Wildecats to a 40-31 record.
In all, he coached for six schools: Archbishop Curley, Atholton, Glenelg, St. Mary's Seminary, Howard Community College and Wilde Lake.
His career began in 1961 at Archbishop Curley, in East Baltimore.
Coaching was a social thing for Ellis. One daughter kept stats for him.His wife attended every game. And all five of his children were staunch supporters who attended many of the games.
He has a treasure chest of basketball stories to tell.
"Most of them are about games we lost," he laughed. "They seem to be the ones that I remember best.
"Mount Hebron was the school that always gave me fits no matter where I coached," he said.
His 1972 Atholton team crushed Mount Hebron once when a 6-foot-7 giant named Duaine Harding scored 40 points and grabbed 35 rebounds. The Raiders appeared to have the second meeting won also.
As Ellis recalls it: With three seconds left, Atholton was at the foul line, up by one and shooting one-and-one . . . andmissed. Leroy Scott rebounded for Mount Hebron, dribbled to half court, and Atholton fouled him.
"He made two shots and beat us," Ellis said.
In 1980, Mount Hebron grabbed his Glenelg team by the neckand shook it.
"They beat the heck out of us in the first half," Ellis said. "They had Perry Young, a great player.
"In the second half we pressed and made up a big deficit. We were one point up with one second left. Mount Hebron threw a full-court pass to Young who dunked it to beat us.
"People said I should have had someone on the passer," Ellis said.
He considers his best team to be the 1977 Glenelg team that featured 6-foot-5 Rion Wheeler, 6-foot-5 Angelo Miles, Gig Miles, Robert Hutson and Jim Adams.
But the most enjoyable year he spent coaching was at St. Mary's Seminary in 1970.
The signature memory was of a mild-mannered future Catholic priest who retaliated to an errant punch from a 6-foot-7 opponent by knocking out the big guy and breaking his nose with one punch.
"I thought our guy wasnot the type to hit someone, but later they told me he worked out ona heavy punching bag every day. A melee followed the punch and the game was never finished," Ellis said. "And wouldn't you know it, we drew that same team in the first round of the playoffs."
Without having to play against the 6-foot-7 guy, however, St. Mary's won the first-round game.
A conscientious coach and a good man, he'll be missed come the start of basketball practice next November.