Centennial: perennial champs Eagles do it again in soccer, volleyball

November 24, 1992|By Tara Finnegan | Tara Finnegan,Contributing Writer

When it comes to athletics, Centennial doesn't like to tamper with tradition -- and the Eagles are back-to-back state champions in three fall sports because of it.

For the second year in a row, Centennial has won the volleyball, boys soccer and girls soccer state titles.

"It really hasn't sunk in yet," said four-year soccer player Vicky Brunt. "All three of our teams take a lot of pride in winning."

Winning and tradition are synonymous for Centennial's athletic programs, particularly soccer.

"When you step on the field at Centennial, you just feel it," said midfielder Mike Resau. "It's like everyone shows their heart at practice."

But Centennial has shown that it takes a lot of skill and talent to keep the heart of their programs beating strong.

With many recreation leagues in soccer and volleyball available in Howard County, many players have been involved with traveling teams and have been exposed to national-level competition before reaching high school.

"They are going out and touching the best talent in the country and bringing it back here," said Centennial volleyball coach Bill Shook, who coaches 12- and 14-under volleyball teams in Howard County.

"We get some kids who have had very extensive soccer backgrounds and then there are some kids who don't have extensive soccer backgrounds," boys soccer coach Bill Stara said. "It's kind of a juggling act. You just put in as much time as you need to fulfill the needs of the team."

Junior goalkeeper Dan Christine, who played on the Columbia Phoenix travel team last year for Stara, relays the tradition of Centennial soccer to Eagle teammates before games.

"It's like a big family," Christine said. "He always talks about the other people who played for him and what good players they were. You want to be part of that winning tradition."

Centennial has won five state titles in Stara's 10-year reign as coach. The Eagles beat Whitman, 1-0, last weekend to clinch the Class 3A title to finish 14-0-2.

"I tell the kids if you want that brass ring, to see your name in the paper and to carry on the tradition you have to put in more time than the average person," Stara said.

Shook, who has been coaching volleyball and tennis for nine years at Centennial, agrees that the athletes are willing to keep the tradition alive. His squad finished 19-0 this season and beat Walter Johnson, 15-9, 15-8, 15-8, for the Class 3A title this year.

"They want to be pushed. They are willing to sacrifice a little bit of fun so they can be champions, probably because they think it's even more fun to be champions," Shook said.

Since all county schools take from the same experienced pool, athletic director Jim Welsch believes his coaches make the difference.

"We have an outstanding group of coaches who do an awful lot of caring for the kids . . . they work hard and put in a lot of time," Welsch said. "I think the coaches do a great job and we have great kids."

The girls soccer team, which captured the 4A-3A title both years under coach Rick Pizarro, finished this year with a record of 15-1. Brunt feels the close-knit environment of the girls soccer team contributes to the team's success.

"We're all really close and we seem to get along a lot better than other teams even on a social level, which carries onto the field," Brunt said.

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