Spirit's Dieter takes his skills to the bank Player retires, joins Hale

team re-signs 4 others

September 19, 1997|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

One Spirit player is leaving to join a former soccer team owner -- and current banker -- and four others have re-signed with the club.

Jason Dieter, an Archbishop Curley High and UMBC graduate, has taken a job as an assistant manager trainee with First Mariner Bank, owned by Ed Hale.

All of which proves that contacts pay off. One of the final moves Hale made before selling the old Blast in 1992 was to draft Dieter.

In the Spirit's other moves yesterday, the club signed Barry Stitz to a three-year contract and Ronnie Simmons, Lance Johnson and Mike Henning to two-year deals.

Although Dieter is only 27, he has a wife, Karen, and a son and felt, "It was time to move on, for more security." The business world will last much longer for him than the soccer world.

"I could play five more years of soccer, maybe 10, but what would I have then?" said Dieter, who ranks in the top 10 in all of the major categories in Spirit history. "I'd be getting a late start in the business world."

Dieter reached a lot of his soccer goals. Last season was his best; he scored 48 points and had 44 blocks.

"As a kid growing up in Baltimore and being a Blast fan, I always dreamed of playing professional soccer," Dieter said.

"I have a great deal of pride in taking that dream as far as I did and getting a chance to play with guys that I watched as a kid: Branko Segota, Timmy Wittman and Mike Stankovic."

Spirit general manager Drew Forrester was disappointed he couldn't get Dieter and Stitz, now the only remaining player from the original Baltimore Spirit team in 1992-93, to sign three-year contracts together.

"He gave our franchise five outstanding seasons on the field and in the community," Forrester said.

Noting the Spirit retains Dieter's rights through Sept. 30, 1998, Forrester added, "We'd like to think that some day we'll see him in a Spirit uniform again. Perhaps if we need him in an emergency basis this season, he can step in and play for a couple of weeks. We're not going to shut the door."

Stitz, a Curley High and Towson University grad, is the fourth-leading scorer in Spirit history with 239 points. He's in the top five in all of the team's categories.

Johnson, who played with Stitz at Towson, is the Spirit's top man-to-man defender. Henning scored 31 points in 31 games as a rookie last season. Simmons, rugged and intense, "is the elder statesmen on our back line," Forrester said.

Pub Date: 9/19/97

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