After 21 years, four state titles and three operations on her left knee, Francis Scott Key field hockey coach Marie Wilson said she has retired from coaching.
Wilson, who has the longest tenure among women coaches in the county, compiled a 163-92-16 record over her career, with 11 district and region titles and a state runner-up finish to go with the four state titles.
She said she will remain a physical education teacher at the school.
The recurring knee problem is the reason for Wilson resigning.Doctors have told her the three or more hours of standing per day during practice and games is too much for the knee to withstand.
"It's an extremely difficult decision to have to make," Wilson said. "I guess the bottom line is, I'd like to walk the rest of my life."
Her knee problem first came about in 1973, when she heard it pop whileinstructing softball in class. After the three operations, arthritishas formed in the knee. A fourth operation is scheduled later this month.
"I've seen five doctors. They all say I need knee replacement but I'm too young for that," said Wilson, who finished the last half of the 1991 season on crutches.
Wilson also coached the Key softball team for six years, from 1982 through 1987. Her last season in that sport ended on a down note, as the Eagles missed making the playoffs when a Frederick County team was awarded two forfeit victories after late-season rain-outs.
The state softball committee later revised its rules to prohibit forfeits when determining region standings.
Over the years, many student-athletes have crossed paths with Wilson and the solid program she has built at Key.
"I think I'll missbeing with the kids most, that one-to-one contact with them," she said.
"Several years ago, I remember a parent coming up to me and saying 'You've taught the kids so much more than field hockey. I see your players rising to your high standards.' That was rewarding."
Wilson will remain active in the sport. Along with being a representative in the northwest region of Maryland in affiliation with the UnitedStates Field Hockey Association, the Westminster High and Salem (W.V.) College grad also was one of eight state coaches who formed the Maryland State High School Field Hockey Association last year.
During the span of her career, she has watched the level of play improve steadily with new systems and more talent. Along the way, Wilson didn't miss a step -- maintaining one of the finest programs in the county.
"You really have to keep on top of things -- the game has changed immensely," Wilson said. "Over the years, we've remained a finesse team using basic skills and working the ball up field. I think that has helped our kids be so successful at the college level."