Coleman's young team had quite an experience 1993 ALL-HOWARD COUNTY BASEBALL TEAM Coach of the Year

June 09, 1993|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Before the season, his 14th as Glenelg's baseball coach, Terry Coleman was thinking about a second straight county championship.

After all, state championships are so hard to come by that only one other Howard County team -- Coleman's Glenelg squad of 1983 -- had won one.

But it quickly became apparent that this year's team was something special, despite its youth and despite the fact Glenelg had scored only 83 runs in 1992 -- the lowest total for a Coleman-coached team.

With an influx of youth, Glenelg suddenly could hit a ton. It finished the season with a .366 team batting average, scored 192 runs in 21 games, scored in double figures eight times and never was shut out. That from a lineup that normally included three or fewer seniors.

The Gladiators ran away from the rest of the county, finishing the league season 13-1 and beating runner-up Centennial for the county title by three games.

And they ended the season with a 17-4 record and the school's second state baseball championship.

"The main thing that characterized this team was that it could hit from top to bottom. Every starter batted at least .300," said Coleman, The Baltimore Sun's Howard County Baseball Coach of the Year.

Despite the offensive riches, Coleman faced some touchy situations. Teams with too much talent can create as many coaching challenges as teams with too little.

Early on, talented sophomores and juniors pushed three seniors out of starting jobs, a situation that could have destroyed team morale.

Coleman obviously managed the ticklish situation well. None of the 19 Gladiators quit.

He worked those seniors into the lineup as often as possible, and two of them -- David Buckholtz (10-for-17) and Steve Shulski (11-for-21) -- hit better than .500.

A third senior -- Jason Beall (9-for-24) -- batted .375 and got the game-winning hit against Walkersville in the regional final, the turning point of the season. Glenelg rallied for five last-inning runs to win that game, 8-7.

Coleman's patience doused another potential fire. Returning first-team All-County third baseman Brian Boteler wanted to switch to shortstop, even though Coleman knew Boteler's skills were more conducive to playing third base.

Coleman was flexible, allowing Boteler to make the switch even though the junior struggled at shortstop. Not quite midway through the season it was apparent to Boteler that he was more suited to play third and he switched back. A lot of coaches wouldn't have been so patient.

Boteler rewarded Coleman with a Player of the Year season.

And the catching situation was also somewhat problematic -- although the kind of problem every coach likes to have. Coleman had two catchers -- sophomore Mike Deming and junior Kevin Curtin. Both could hit well. Deming was a slightly better defensive catcher, but Curtin had a little better arm.

Coleman solved that situation by allowing them to split the catching duties equally, and they both had All-County seasons.

Coleman, a 45-year-old psychology teacher, thus lived up to his reputation as the dean of county baseball coaches with his astute handling of all these potential problems.

He also showed a quality not all coaches possess -- old-fashioned loyalty. He allowed senior Jeff Lewis to start the state championship game. Some coaches might have started sophomore Sean Lookingbill, who had been a more consistent and dominant pitcher than Lewis. Lewis rewarded Coleman's loyalty with a strong, victorious effort.

Coleman points to strong senior leadership and an uncommon team unity as keys to Glenelg's success.

"I take my hat off to the seniors who got beat out by sophomores and juniors but still remained an important part of his team," Coleman said. "The players never stopped rooting for one another. All I did was try to get everyone ready to play."

Coleman's lifetime coaching record is 180-104. His Glenelg teams have won county titles in 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1992 (co-champs) and 1993. They were regional champs in 1983, 1989 and 1993.

And now they own two state titles.

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