WESTMINSTER -- When Earl Hersh became supervisor of physical education and athletics in Carroll 25 years ago, he followed in the footsteps of his former coach and supervisor Herb Ruby.
When Bruce Cowan was selected by the Board of Education last week to replace the retiring Hersh, that trend continued.
And for the first time in some 2 1/2 decades, Carroll will have a supervisor of physical education and athletics other than Earl Hersh.
Cowan played football for Hersh at Westminster High in the 1960s, then served as a coach and athletic director under his predecessor in the 1980s.
Cowan, 42, will become Carroll's new supervisor July 1, as Hersh steps down after 25 years at the position and more than 30 years in the school system. Cowan currently is an assistant principal at Francis Scott Key High.
"I'm very honored to be selected, I know there were several good people who applied for the position," Cowan said. "It's something I've looked forward to for quite some time. Right now, I just want to spend some time with it. You can't replace an Earl Hersh. I'm just going to try to fit into the position and do the best job I can."
A graduate of Westminster High and Bridgewater (Va.) College, Cowan has 20 years of education experience -- all in Carroll. He started as a teacher at Eldersburg Elementary in 1972 before moving on to Liberty High in 1984.
Cowan, who had been an assistant football coach under Ken Parker at South Carroll High from 1972-1979, became the head coach at Liberty when it opened for the 1980-1981 school year. He remained in that position for six years, mostly while still teaching at the elementary school.
"When he first got here you could tell right off he was an excellent coach," Parker said.
"He was very demanding and the kids really enjoyed working with him. He has a great personality and enjoys people and that's what his new position is all about."
In 1984, he became a teacher and athletic director at Liberty, a post he kept until becoming the assistant principal at Key in 1987. He gave up his football coaching position after the 1985 season to concentrate on his athletic director duties.
"I think Bruce brings a broad background in elementary and secondary education, along with the physical education and athletic programs," said Gary Dunkleberger, director of curriculum and staff development.
Hersh, 60, ends more than 30 years in the county's school system. The 1949 Westminster High School grad played professional baseball in the Milwaukee (now Atlanta) Braves organization in the 1950s -- including a brief stint with the major-league team in 1956 -- before coming back to Carroll to teach full time.
"Earl's been at the position for a long time and has made a real important impact with the school system and people," Dunkleberger said.