Graduation to sideline two-sport star Toyah Houck

April 24, 1994|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

Every now and then a truly gifted athlete such as Toyah Houck comes along and makes everybody around her better.

From Westminster High to the College of Notre Dame, Houck has been a big-time performer in basketball and lacrosse over the past eight years.

At Division III Notre Dame, the 5-foot-10 senior has put up some serious numbers in both sports, especially basketball where she is No. 1 on the career-rebounding list (1,105) and No. 2 in career scoring (1,440).

Houck has helped take the College of Notre Dame to a higher level in basketball, playing a major role in one-point victories at home over Salisbury State and Frostburg State this past season.

In lacrosse this spring, she is the leading scorer with 49 goals and 21 assists in 12 games.

This is the third straight lacrosse season in which the Finksburg resident has been the team's leading scorer.

But in a few weeks her celebrated athletic career will end and the cheering from the crowds will stop.

That is a sobering thought to an outstanding athlete whose life has been based around sports.

"From the time I can remember, I was always attending some kind of camp for sports," said Houck.

"I love sports. The best way for me to stay around them is to either work in sports marketing or become an assistant basketball or assistant lacrosse coach. I've applied for those kinds of positions all around the country."

Even though she has learned to enjoy lacrosse after taking it up in the 10th grade at Westminster High (the first year Carroll County fielded high school girls lacrosse teams), Houck makes no secret of the fact that basketball is her No. 1 sport.

She has played the game 13 years and always been known for her ability to rebound and score inside.

"Everybody knows me for basketball," she said.

"Getting over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds are my biggest thrills in sports. Most of my points came off rebounds."

For four years at the College of Notre Dame, Houck, Debbi Pearson and Karyn Murphey were the heart and soul of the basketball team.

Houck was a scorer and rebounder, Pearson a scorer, and Murphey an outstanding point guard.

"The three of us were part of the first major recruiting class for basketball at our school," said Houck.

"And we went on to put Notre Dame athletics on the map."

Houck, Pearson and Murphey went out in style their senior basketball season.

They led the Gators to a 14-game winning streak during a 17-5 season.

"All of a sudden our gym was filled with fans and we were having a lot of fun winning games," she said.

"Beating Salisbury State and Frostburg State on our court was really important for our program."

And what about lacrosse?

"I like playing lacrosse on nice spring days," said Houck.

"But basketball is my game. I probably like lacrosse because it has a lot of the same principles as basketball, such as trying to beat your man one-on-one, setting picks and screens, and running an offensive pattern to free someone for a goal."

Her first lacrosse coaches at Westminster High were Judy Turnbaugh and Nancy Scott who were members of the 1984 University of Maryland national championship team.

Houck learned her lessons well from the two former Terrapin standouts and is averaging a little more than four goals a game this season for the 7-5 Gators.

In all, it has been a terrific run for the daughter of a four-sport standout at North Carroll.

"My dad [Neil] played baseball, basketball, soccer and ran track at North Carroll," said Houck.

"But he never pressured us [Toyah or her sister Tina, who is a freshman field hockey standout at the College of Notre Dame] to play sports. He just asked us if we wanted to play."

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