54 straight Anne Arundel County: Severna Park team a symbol of excellence and girls' athletics today.

September 13, 1996

ALL STREAKS MUST END. Northwestern University's football team played in the vaunted Rose Bowl after once losing 34 consecutive games, most for a major college team. Cal Ripken's record of consecutive games -- it's been a year and a week since 2,131 -- will end someday, too, barring a fascinating development in life science.

Which brings us to the Severna Park High School girls field hockey team, which recently lost its first game since October 1992. It was defeated 1-0 by a tenacious rival from down the road, the private Severn School.

By knitting together 54 wins since the month before Bill Clinton became president, Severna Park earned a place in the record books. Its field hockey team accumulated the nation's fifth-longest winning streak in prep field hockey. The school also owns the ninth longest streak, having racked up 35 consecutive victories between 1986 and 1988. (The longest streak: 105 games by an Oklahoma City school, 1956-1969.)

The streak was remarkable, but so, too, the recent attention. We have gone through a revolution in our perception about sports and who plays them. Witness the recent Olympics, where the public seemed every bit as enthralled with the U.S. women's gold-medal basketball team as with the men's "Dream Team."

Nowadays, women participate in many sports that were once the sole domain of men, such as basketball and crew. Not only are BTC there fiercely competitive field hockey leagues, girls play a wide range of team competitions, from soccer to softball to volleyball. It is no longer viewed as outrageous that girls would seek to experience the satisfaction of pushing themselves to their physical limits or the excitement of working with teammates to execute a play.

The Severna Park contingent responded with class to unfamiliar defeat. Said Severna Park coach Lil Shelton, "I thought I'd be devastated when the streak ended, but I honestly don't feel that way now." Added star player Amy Noble, "We'll learn from it and move on. I didn't like it [losing] one bit. Severn deserved to win."

Severna Park students should be proud of their field hockey team. Given the school's track record, folks should take heed: Another long streak may begin at any time.

Pub Date: 9/13/96

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