From learner to team leader Field hockey: A beginner last year, tri-captain Sue Mancho has helped Howard to this year's state semifinals.


Two weeks before she would try to make Howard's varsity field hockey team, Susan Mancho bought a stick and a ball.

"I knew nothing about the game except that it is played on grass," Mancho said.

Still, she made the team.

"I was surprised," said Mancho.

"I had no skills ... nothing. Just a stick and a ball."

That was a year ago. Mancho worked her way into the starting lineup last year. Then county coaches rewarded her diligence by voting her to the All-County second-team.

"I've never seen anybody progress as quickly and probably never will again," said Howard coach Pat Becker.

Mancho always wants to better herself, whether in the classroom or in sports, and understands the dedication it takes to do so. She has ability, especially her speed but Mancho has worked hard to become one of the county's top players. Her success this season is one of the main reasons Howard is headed to tomorrow's state semifinals-against North East-for the first time in school history.

"She has tremendous concentration, determination and confidence," Becker said. "She is a very competitive person and pushes everybody to a higher level. In games, she gives everybody confidence because when she goes after the ball she gets it. They can count on her to do well."

Said Howard sweeper Amanda Eldridge: "She's incredible ... just a great player."

Mancho, a center halfback, is a tri-captain and, according to Becker, has more responsibilities then any other Howard player. "By far," Becker said.

Mancho's first responsibility is defense. She and Eldridge, a senior who moved to defense this season and found out she is better at defense after three years on offense , give the Lions a solid defensive front.

"Amanda and Susan always back each other up," said forward Michelle DeYoung. "They're al ways there for each other."

Said Eldridge: "We talk a lot. She let's me know where I need to be."

Mancho talks to all her teammates. "She always has something to say," Becker said, "and they listen to her."

"As a halfback I can see the whole field," Mancho said. "I tell: them [teammates] to look up and to talk to each other."

FTC Mancho often brings the ball upfield and distributes it. "She's kind of like our quarterback," Becker said.

She also takes most of the free hits - "She has the strongest drive on the team," DeYoung said and is in on penalty corners.

Becker said Mancho was "a real good player at the end of last year who has really become a leader" this season. "She sees the field and understands the game a lot better."

Said Mancho: "I'm using my head so much more."

Mancho was born in Cameroon, a country in west-central Africa. When she was 2, her mother left her there to come to the United; States and study at Howard University. Mancho lived with her father, then with her aunt and grandmother.

Her mother always stayed in touch, Mancho said. "I still felt her presence," Mancho said.

When Mancho was 10, her mother brought her and her two brothers to the United States, and they moved to Jessup.

"My mom means so much to me," said Mancho, who got three A's and a B on the first report card this year. "I appreciate so much all she has done. She works so hard. I really want to help my mom out. That's my biggest goal."

She wants to get a scholarship. And it doesn't matter whether it's for field hockey or track. Mancho is an excellent runner. She finished fourth in the 100 meters last year in the county and

anchored the 4x100 relay team that won the state title.

But right now, Mancho is focusing on one thing: helping her team earn a state title.

"I think we can win this if we put our hearts in it," Mancho said. 'We're confident. We want it so bad."

And to think a year ago all she had was a stick and a ball.

Pub Date: 11/03/96

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