Purcell yielding as AD, will still coach


April 09, 1999|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Gail Purcell will resign as Centennial's athletic director at the end of the school year.

Purcell, ending her second year in the job, said she was stepping down "for personal reasons. I have a lot going on in my life that I need to be more attentive to."

A physical education teacher, Purcell will continue to coach field hockey, which she has done for 22 seasons.

"This was a very anguishing decision," said Purcell. "I feel very fortunate to serve the community at Centennial. The coaches and athletes have been tremendous in their support."

Purcell is one of two women athletic directors in the county. Wilde Lake's Carol Satterwhite was the first female athletic director in the state and has served that position at Wilde Lake for 27 years.

"Gail has done a marvelous job, and she's really promoted sportsmanship and addressed the challenges of the Title 9 issues that we've been involved in the last few years," said Centennial principal Lynda Mitic. "I'm very grateful for her enthusisam, energy and dedication to resolving these issues."

Mitic said Purcell "has really come into her own" this year as an athletic director and has "been able to get beyond the day-to-day things and effect change. She has definitely enhanced and strengthened the entire athletic program. I'm very sorry that she has to step down."

Purcell replaced Jim Welsch, the only athletic director Centennial had had since it opened. She said she has gained a new respect for the position and an appreciation of for her nine colleagues in the county.

"No one knows what this job is like until they sit behind this desk," said Purcell. "You really can't have a personal life and be a teacher and do what you need to do. There are not enough hours in the day."

Purcell feels the athletic director position should be full time.

"I really could not have said that until I stepped into their shoes," Purcell said. "It's not fair to expect them to be effective teachers, coaches and ADs. It's impossible."

Purcell said she will "really miss working with the coaches and the kids. That will be difficult for me."

And she expressed gratitude to the other county athletic directors who made her job a little easier.

"They welcomed me with open arms and were really wonderful," she said.

Mitic said she plans to announce a replacement for Purcell next week.

That hurts

The leadoff hitter for Long Reach's softball team, Ashley Naimaster, planted herself in the batter's box and awaited the game's first pitch by Gwynn Park left-hander Shannon Courtney.

"The first pitch was a ball," said Naimaster, whose team was playing in the Arundel Tournament last Saturday. "I crowded the plate a little bit on the second pitch, and I think she wanted to brush me back. It was a strike."

In came the third pitch.

"The ball kept breaking inside, and I couldn't get out of the way," Naimaster said. "It hit me square in the face."

Does she remember it?

"Yeah, I do," Naimaster said. "I can't forget that. I just fell to my knees, and blood was gushing everywhere. I knew [my nose] was broken immediately. There was so much blood. I made a puddle over home plate."

Said Long Reach coach Chuck Struhar: "That was the most blood I had seen coming out of an athlete. I really felt sorry for her."

Naimaster stayed at home plate until an ambulance arrived. But the paramedics suggested that because North Arundel Hospital was overloaded she would get quicker attention at Howard County General. Her mother, Gina, drove her back to Columbia, and Naimaster said it was hours later before doctors finally stopped the bleeding.

In addition to the broken nose and two stitches on her nose where the ball hit, Naimaster's left eye was swollen shut for two days. She was on the bench Monday for her team's game against Mount Hebron and watched through her right eye, which was black and blue.

Naimaster said Wednesday that the left eye was open and that "it looks a lot better."

Naimaster was surprisingly good-natured about the event.

"It happens in sports," she said. "There's nothing I can do about it. I just have to go out there and play."

Naimaster went out Wednesday night to by a helmet with a cage to protect her face. She plans to be in the lineup Monday against Howard.

"I won't be playing third, though," Naimaster said. "My nose will be a little too close to home plate. I'll be out in the outfield."

This wasn't Naimaster's first injury this school year. Her jaw was fractured by a blow to the chin from a stick during the first field hockey scrimmage last fall against Roland Park.

"Hopefully, nothing else will happen anytime soon," she said.

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