Huppmann adds experience, more goals to Mount Hebron Lacrosse: A preseason conditioning program is just one example of how dedicated Mike Huppmann, the only returning midfielder, is to improving himself and team.

April 13, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Mount Hebron's Mike Huppmann embodies the intangibles coaches value highly -- leadership and commitment.

He has to be a leader this season. He's the only returning midfielder after the Vikings graduated five of their top six.

"He's a solid leader at practice and during games," Vikings coach Jeff Doolan said. "He's a workhorse and hustles all over the field."

Huppmann's commitment is unsurpassed on his team.

"Before the winter he was conditioning every day. He's worked very hard at preparation. He takes extra faceoffs every day after practice. He's very committed," Doolan said.

Because he's the only veteran midfielder, Huppmann has looked to shoot more this season and has 10 goals and three assists through six games. He had eight goals and 10 assists for all of last season.

"My shot is my biggest improvement this season," he said. "And dodging -- creating opportunities to get the shot."

Huppmann also thinks he's using his speed better this season, explaining: "I've learned to change speeds and accelerate."

He's always had the basics, such as scooping, passing and catching right- and left-handed.

He's excellent on faceoffs, winning about 75 percent. He plays good defense. And he's adept at bringing the ball up on clears and passing it to the attackmen. Against Glenelg, he played 36 minutes, which is almost unheard of for a starting midfielder.

"Mike is not awesome at any one thing, but he's good at everything," Doolan said. "He's just a good, solid player and is so smart. He quarterbacks the offense. When Glenelg starting switching from 'man' to zone on defense, he was calling it out before the coaches could."

Huppmann played half of his sophomore year on varsity before starting last season. The 5-foot-9, 153-pounder has played lacrosse since fourth grade, first with the Howard County Lacrosse Program and then for two years with COBRA. He also plays Hero's lacrosse during the summer.

He attributes a lot of his development to his older brother, Tim, who was All-County his senior year at Mount Hebron and has coached Mike four summers in Hero's ball.

"He introduced me to lacrosse and encouraged me to go to the next level, even when I lacked confidence," Huppmann said. "Former coach Warren Michael also had a great effect on me. He was supportive and knew what I could do."

Modesty is one of Huppmann's chief character traits.

"I don't consider myself a standout. Everyone on our team deserves credit. Our defense, with Mike Stromberg, Mike Machiran and Jon Smith, is outstanding. James Thomas, Kyle Campbell and Bryan Warner give us a solid attack. Tim Kim and Ryan Douglas are playing well at midfield. And our goalkeeper, ++ Pat McClammer, is our most improved player."

"We've come together much quicker than I thought we would," Huppmann said. "We play together as a team, and no one is trying to do it all."

One thing he wants to be sure he does is to teach the younger midfielders how to lead so they are ready for next season. "That's not something that's always happened in the past," he said.

Huppmann played marking back on Mount Hebron's highly successful soccer team the past two years.

He has a 3.95 grade-point average and scored 1,330 on the SAT. He wants to study biology in college.

"I don't think I'll be able in college to play varsity lacrosse because it's too much of a time commitment. But I'll probably play club lacrosse."

Pub Date: 4/13/97

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