Ross, in midst of a fresh start, leaves behind court of memories

SIDELINES

March 12, 1993|By PAT O'MALLEY

Two weeks from tomorrow, Annapolis girls basketball coach Teresa Ross will experience a happy/sad kind of day -- happy because she will be wed and sad because of the girls she will leave behind.

Ross will be married in Annapolis on March 27 to Ralph McBarron, a sports promotions director in Kansas, and then depart for a new life in the Midwest. It will be tough to say goodbye to a group of girls she has become very attached to.

Ross, a 28-year-old graduate of High Point in Princes George's County and Loyola College in Baltimore, where she played three years of basketball, turned a dreadful girls program at Annapolis into one of the metro area's best in her three years there.

She inherited a team that was 3-18 the year before she arrived and patiently laid a winning foundation through discipline, hard work and communication.

Ross attributes much of her smooth transition as a newcomer at the school to the support of veteran boys coach John Brady.

"I heard a lot about him before I came here, mostly bad, but it was all wrong," said Ross.

"John was a pleasant surprise," she said. "He was so supportive and helped me more than anyone can imagine. Nobody works harder for his kids than he does and he set a great example for me."

In her rookie season of 1990-91, the Panthers improved to 5-17, but went 14-10 and made the playoffs last year, when she was named the Anne Arundel County Sun Coach of the Year.

This year, the Panthers went 19-6 overall as the 4A, Region IV runner-up to two-time state champion Old Mill and were ranked 17th in the metro area. It was important to the girls to send Ross out on a positive note, and they did.

"When we first learned that she was leaving, it was devastating," said junior point guard Cristi Samaras, who will be on hand with her teammates at the wedding to say goodbye to a coach who leaves quite an impression.

Junior inside standout Shannon Henderson said that Coach Ross "taught us the importance of hard work and made us a close-knit team. She created team unity."

Ross leaves behind an excellent nucleus. There were no seniors on this year's surprising team to provide senior leadership.

The coach took care of that by encouraging team unity, chaperoning team parties so the girls would get to know each other better and preaching togetherness, something the program had lacked.

"I'll be with some of them at a camp this summer and hope to make it back to a spring track meet, a cross country meet in the fall [she coached the girls last year] and to one or two basketball games," said Ross, who hopes to teach English literature and coach JV girls basketball at Thomas Stone, a private school near Lawrence, Kan.

"It will be better for me to coach JV and not be in the limelight when I get out there," she said.

Her father, Bobby Ross, the ex-Maryland and Georgia Tech coach and now coach of the NFL San Diego Chargers, was once an assistant on the Kansas City Chiefs' staff.

"There's no question that I'm going to miss these girls because I let them get a lot closer to me than I normally would have because I'm leaving," said Ross.

"They have become a very important part of my life, and I hope nothing but the best for them."

And "nothing but the best" includes better officiating, something that has bugged not only Ross, but nearly every other girls coach in the county.

Ross made it clear that she didn't want her remarks to sound like sour grapes, because they are not, but she felt that something more needed to be said.

"I found the officials this year more difficult to deal with than in the past, and that's after we held a meeting with them, complained and they told us to be more respectful," said Ross.

"They're not all bad, but too many of them take our complaining personally and hold grudges. We would come out for games and say, 'Oh, God, who are we going to get tonight?' "

Speaking for the officials, Greg March said that "none of our officials hold grudges."

Ross said: "I tried my best to be diplomatic with them, but they just won't listen and feel that you are attacking them personally when you question something."

One thing I will miss about Ross is her stand-up-and-be-counted kind of attitude and for being her own person. She didn't come in on her dad's coattails, nor did she ride them while coaching.

Her father no doubt influenced her, but she was her own person and coach. She didn't make her mark as Bobby Ross' daughter. She made her mark as Teresa Ross.

Bobby Ross is proud of his football accomplishments, but can be even more proud of his daughter.

=1 That JV team in Kansas is getting a good one.

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