New era begins at North Carroll with coach Martin Former assistant following Richards' philosophy, advice 1993 high school volleyball preview

September 10, 1993|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

When first-year Panthers coach Donna Martin volunteered her time as an assistant to Linda Richards at North Carroll last year, little did she know she would be standing in Richards' shoes so soon.

Fortunately for Martin, she took plenty of notes in her apprenticeship year, learning Richards' system and getting to know the players. She said she hopes it will pay off when the team opens its season Monday at Linganore.

"I tried to take in as much as I could last year and Coach Richards really helped with a lot of things," Martin said.

"Getting to know the players and the players getting familiar with me also has helped a lot this year."

Martin, in her first stint as a head coach, played high school volleyball at Bishop Walsh in Cumberland before playing two years at the College of Notre Dame. She was a college standout before injuries and devotion to schoolwork shortened her career.

Richards' advice to her was pretty simple.

"I told her to relax a little and have fun," said Richards, who retired after last season. "I also told her to go with new ideas. She brings a lot of enthusiasm and is a very hard worker. She'll do just fine."

Martin will be the first to tell you there's a little bit of pressure following in the footsteps of a coach who has had so much success.

"The program's been so strong for so long, there's bound to be pressure on me," Martin said. "My goal is to take it one game at a time."

With every new era that begins, an old one has to end. There aren't too many that can match the one Richards enjoyed.

In 19 years, the Panthers won a state title in 1984 and numerous county and Central Maryland Conference titles and made plenty of region playoff appearances. Perhaps the most impressive statistic is that all 19 years were winning seasons.

"The closest we came was one 8-7 year," Richards said.

Junior varsity coach Bonnie Clendaniel, who had been alongside Richards for much of her tenure, said Richards did the extra things needed to form a winning tradition.

"Not only did Linda put in a lot of time and effort on the court, she also spent plenty of hours off the court coming up with new drills or strategies," said Clendaniel.

"She was a very personable coach who showed interest in all of her players, not just as players but as a person as well. The kids would not only have a strong desire to win for themselves or the school, but also for the coach."

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