Like father, son getting in his coaching kicks At Catholic, Dieters are team

September 20, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

On prominent display in the home of Jerry and Judy Dieter is a black and white ceramic soccer ball mounted on a green base bearing the names of the players on the Little Flower Cougars of 1980.

"That was our premier year," said Jerry Dieter, the under-12 Cougars coach in 1980. "What I'm most proud of is that 11 of those kids went on to play college soccer."

That was indeed a prosperous year for the Cougars. Starring Barry Stitz (whose mother, Joan, made the ceramic ball) and Dieter's son, Jason, Little Flower stormed to a 40-0-5 record and won six championships, indoors as well as out.

Today, Barry Stitz and Jason Dieter are members of the Baltimore Spirit of the National Professional Soccer League. On the side, Dieter coaches the Catholic High girls JV while his father coaches the varsity.

Jerry Dieter's soccer sayings, some of which Joan Stitz printed on the ceramic ball, survive to this day. On command from Jason, the JV girls will burst enthusiastically into a cheer that Jerry Dieter first taught the 1980 Cougars and brought with him to the Catholic High Cubs.

It goes like this (leader's question first, team's response in parentheses):

One, two . . . (Three!)

How do you go to the ball? (Quickly!)

How do you pass the ball? (Sharply!)

Where do you go? (To the goal!)

What do you do? (Shoot!)

What do you do? (Score!)

Who are you? (Cubs!)

Are you the best? (Yes!)

"Remember, my father made that up," Jason Dieter said, a trifle embarrassed after the noise of the cheer subsided the other day at practice.

The Dieters became a father-son coaching combination this year following personnel changes at Catholic.

After three years as JV coach, Jerry moved up to the varsity. The person scheduled to take the JV backed out a week before the season started, prompting Jerry to recommend Jason.

"I've always wanted to coach," said Jason, 23. "This is a higher level to start at than you would expect. It's above recreation ball."

The Spirit is heartily behind Dieter in his coaching endeavor. Even as a rookie last year, he showed an affinity for helping to conduct camps and clinics and making public appearances.

"Since day one, Jason has made countless appearances, so we weren't surprised he wanted to coach," said Spirit vice president Drew Forrester. "We encouraged it. It's good for the club and Jason, in that he's taking on added responsibility."

Coaching will not interfere with his Spirit activities. When training camp opens early next month, practice sessions will be in the morning.

"It looks like I can do it," said Dieter, who came to the Spirit by way of Archbishop Curley, Essex Community College and UMBC. "The Spirit's first game isn't until Oct. 29, and that's at home. By the time we have a road game, the girls' season will be over."

Jerry Dieter, 51, got into coaching after taking early retirement following 30 years with Bethlehem Steel. He had started at 18, and retired three years ago as a steel mill supervisor.

To amuse himself and make pocket change, Dieter umpires baseball games and works part time for the marketing research firm that employs Judy. He quit umpiring high-school games last spring to coach the Catholic softball JV, which tied for the championship.

Nobody gets rich coaching and officiating at the high-school level, and Dieter knew that.

"I don't need Bahamas cruises," he said. "Maybe I'll go to a movie or play a round of golf after the season. This is fun for me. I try to make it fun for the girls."

A graduate of Poly ("The old Poly on North Avenue; I have one of the bricks"), Dieter never played soccer. He began learning about it in 1972 when his older son, David, played at the recreational level.

"I'm self-taught," he said. "I read books and worked with the kids. My gratification is seeing young people improve at something they enjoy."

In four years at Catholic High, from which his three daughters graduated, Dieter has encountered "only two or three head cases; the rest are wonderful girls."

He describes his current team as "strong, a group of talented ladies that I expect to do well, although we will have our weak moments." The varsity Cubs were 5-7-5 last year.

Jason considers it his assignment to prepare the JV girls for the varsity. In his few weeks on the job, he notes "immense improvement."

In a game last week against John Carroll, the Cubs won, 2-1, scoring the winning goal on a play they had practiced for 45 minutes the day before. La Angelini brought the ball down the right side and passed across the goal mouth at the six-yard box to Betsy Spinoso, who tapped it in.

"When a chance like that comes along," Jason said, relishing the memory, "you've got to capitalize on it. You don't get that many."

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