Severna Park coach scores National honor awarded for spurring on team

March 07, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The Severna Park High School girls soccer team was playing sluggishly against an unranked opponent last fall, and the score was tied at halftime.

That's when head coach Joyce Stefancik did the unthinkable: She threatened to organize a practice at 6 a.m. the next day if the team didn't play better. "That was a wake-up call for us," recalled Jess Miller, a senior sweeper. "That's not usually how she is."

The strategy worked. The team scored nine goals in the second half, compiled a 16-1-2 record and captured the 1995 state championship. For the team's success, Mrs. Stefancik was named the National Secondary Schools Girls Coach of the Year.

"It's a very humbling honor," said the 53-year-old coach, who also is head of the physical education department at Magothy River Middle School. "It's an honor that I think is reserved for people who have done so much more than what I've done."

Not so, say her players.

"We weren't supposed to be good this year," said Lindsey Poland, a senior midfielder. "But she made us good."

The team recorded 16 shutouts in 19 games and scored 53 goals while giving up only three. It was ranked by the National Soccer Coaches Association and Umbro, a sporting goods manufacturer, as the 12th-best team in the nation.

But Mrs. Stefancik said her accolades should be shared by her players and her assistant coach, Chuck Seivert, who ran afternoon practices until she could get there from teaching at Magothy River Middle.

"The kids were great, and I have to credit Chuck Seivert for much of the success of the team," said Mrs. Stefancik, who won state Coach of the Year honors for the third time. "He was the nuts and bolts."

Mrs. Stefancik has been coaching at Severna Park for 17 years. Since 1979, her teams have compiled a 187-38-9 record. She's only had one team with a losing record. From September 1988 to October 1991, her teams established a national record by winning 57 consecutive games.

Mrs. Stefancik said much of her success comes from her philosophy about coaching.

"I do not yell at the kids," she said. "I believe that if you tell the kids how good they are, they will live up to those expectations."

Mrs. Stefancik said she also refrains from yelling at referees. "What good does it do to yell at the referees?" she asked. "It's not going to change the call. We want to see good attitudes and, if the coach doesn't have it, how do we expect the kids to?"

Bethanne Houck, a senior wing, said Mrs. Stefancik also demands the players sing "We Are the Champions" after every game -- win or lose.

"She's really into cheering," Bethanne said. "She's really into team unity."

The 1995 season may have been Mrs. Stefancik's last because Magothy River Middle is changing its schedule so that she will not be able to coach in the 1996-1997 school year.

Mrs. Stefancik said the timing of her departure would be appropriate.

"What better time to end your career?" she said. "It doesn't get much better than this."

Pub Date: 3/07/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.