Stefancik keeps tradition going at Severna Park Community outcry allows her to act as co-coach

Local Sports: High School Girls Soccer Preview

September 01, 1996|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Imagine being the 1995 national high school girls soccer Coach of the Year and having to fight to coach another season.

Severna Park's Joyce Stefancik lived through that nightmare last spring and is back as co-coach of the always-powerful Falcons this fall.

When her teaching duties at Magothy River Middle School this year were extended to 4: 15 p.m. because of double shifts due to construction at Broadneck High, Stefancik went to Anne Arundel County school officials and requested that she be named co-coach with Chuck Seivert at Severna Park.

Stefancik figured it was only fair that Seivert, her assistant last season, be a co-coach since he would be running the practice sessions for close to two hours before she arrived at 4: 30.

The county turned that proposal down, saying there was no precedent for such a move.

That prompted Stefancik to resign after 16 years as the only varsity girls soccer coach the school ever had. She began the girls program in 1980 and has gone on to win four state titles, seven region championships, eight county titles and compile an 87-38-9 record.

Combine all that with the fact Stefancik probably coached her finest game ever last Nov. 17 against a loaded Centennial squad to gain a share of the state 3A-4A girls championship with a scoreless tie.

Many Severna Park parents and fans were outraged to hear of Stefancik's situation. They decided to fight city hall and they won.

The county reversed its ruling and returned Stefancik to the sidelines as co-coach as she had requested.

"People who had power talked to them [county officials] on my behalf," said Stefancik, whose squad was 16-1-2 last season and allowed just three goals. "It was some parents and others. It was a unique situation. I guess when you look at it, the county was justified in questioning the co-coach thing since it had never been done before. The school [Severna Park] wanted me to be the lone head coach but how could I do that when I wasn't going to be there a lot of the time."

Stefancik said her role as co-coach would be more as a general manager than a coach.

"I will see that we follow in the tradition of Severna Park," she said. "We'll have class and do things the right way. Chuck will do most of the coaching since he'll be running most of the practices."

And just how does it feel to be a national Coach of the Year?

"It's a very humbling honor on such a high level," said Stefancik of the award presented by the National Soccer Coaches Association. "I think the fact that I've served on so many national committees over the years played a part in it. It's hard to really know what kind of a coach you are."

But Stefancik's record speaks for itself and many of her peers in Anne Arundel County have applauded the decision to keep her on the sidelines.

Chesapeake coach Lin Sullivan said, "I have no problem with making a concession to Joyce to allow her to continue coaching. She's the dean. The whole soccer program in Anne Arundel County is better off because of Joyce Stefancik."

Old Mill coach Bruce Sponsler, whose team beat Severna Park for the county girls title last year but lost to the Falcons in the opening round of the 3A-4A playoffs, said, "Anything Anne Arundel County can do to keep Joyce Stefancik coaching is fine with me."

Former Arundel coach Paul Yannuzzi, who stepped down before the start of this season, said, "I'm happy for Joyce."

Annapolis coach Tom Cordts called Stefancik "a strong coach" but he believes the co-coach setup will eventually create problems.

"They really need to have one definite person in charge," he said. "It will leave the team open to conflicts later on."

While parents played a major part in returning Stefancik to the sidelines at Severna Park, they drove a highly-regarded Yannuzzi out of coaching at Arundel.

"There was too much parental interference," said Yannuzzi, who had guided the Wildcats to 10-2-1 and 9-3-2 records over the past two seasons. "I've discovered that there are more meddling parents who think they know it all than the good kind. But maybe I would be the same way if I were in their position. Maybe we coaches do overlook some things."

Pub Date: 9/01/96

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