Gators turn winning into forum Input from parents valued in game plan

November 15, 1993|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

If the old theory that winning is contagious applied to the athletes at Perry Hall High School, visits to the school nurse would shoot through the roof.

In what athletic director Al Miller called a "dream season," the school's cross country, field hockey, football, boys and girls soccer and volleyball teams played to a combined record of 67-11 this fall, making the playoffs in five sports and so far winning one state title.

But what's so amazing about this fall's across-the-board success on the school's athletics fields can't be measured in the numbers.

It's the intangibles.

With support from parents and teachers, stability within the school's coaching ranks and help from local recreation councils, Perry Hall's fall programs have flourished like never before.

"This has been an unusually good year," said Miller. "Basically, every team has been in the money. It's just been super. We've always been pretty successful, but this is the first year we've put it all together."

Coaches at the school say their success isn't so much a matter of X's and O's as much as ABC's. They like to think of Perry Hall as a throwback to bygone days when triumphs in the classroom outshined any game-winning touchdown, and discipline in the home was the controlling force in a student's life.

"It's still what we remember from the old days," said track coach Jerry Martin. "The kids are being raised the way they're supposed to be raised. It's mom and dad at home paying attention to what their kids are doing."

And the hard work has paid off.

Among this season's successes:

* Football, in which coach Joe Stoy's team is 10-1, and will play in Friday night's Class 4A state semifinals for the first time since 1974.

* Cross country, in which the girls' team capped off a stellar season by winning its first-ever Class 4A state title, and the boys' team took fourth place at Saturday's Maryland State Championships at Hereford High School.

* Field hockey, in which the Gators went through the regular season unbeaten before losing to Westminster in the regional title game.

* Boys soccer, in which the team dominated, going 13-0 before falling to Dulaney in the regional final.

* Girls soccer, in which the Gators finished 9-4, including an upset win over county power Dulaney, and made it to regionals.

* Volleyball, in which the team finished 14-3 after advancing to the regional finals.

Coaches give much of the credit to the parents. Both the athletic and academic programs have flourished as a result of kids who are eager to listen and take instruction.

Boys soccer coach Ed Wolf says that Perry Hall's growing reputation for high academics has played a major role in the school's athletic program.

"With the rising cost of private schools, and the type of academic program we're offering here, a lot of kids are deciding to come here," said Wolf. "That makes it a lot easier for us to field solid teams."

But while Perry Hall may have the largest enrollment of any school in Baltimore County, players say students' enthusiasm about the teams is just as high.

Parents have a lot to do with that.

"I don't know what those parents do for a living, but they somehow always manage to make it here by 3:30," said field hockey coach Linda Fisher.

"I think Perry Hall just has so much spirit -- that's what draws people here," said Krissy Jost, a transfer from Queene Anne's who took second in the state at Saturday's Class 4A Cross Country Championships. "What's also different here is that the teachers are really one-on-one with you.

"I think that spirit in the classroom definitely transfers to the field."

Soccer midfielder Jimmy Stopper, who transferred from Overlea after his freshman year, said that athletes tend to take their sport more seriously than at other schools.

"Nobody makes up excuses to miss practice," said Stopper. "Here, everyone wants to go. I think that has a lot to do with the emphasis on grades. Here, you concentrate on school and sports is next on the list.

"They go hand in hand, because if you're committed to school, you're committed to other things, also."

The coaches are committed as well. In an age when it's quite common for coaches to transfer every few years, fall coaches at Perry Hall have been at the school for an average of over 15 years.

With so many established programs, athletes are exposed to winning from the time they enter high school. Coaches are split as to how much of a difference that makes when they're taking a snap from center or shooting for the goal.

But one thing is for sure. Winning at Perry Hall didn't come by accident.

"We've been really fortunate to get good, skilled athletes," said Stoy. "I don't know if winning rubs off, but with good kids and dedicated coaching, chances are a team will win."

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