Severna Park turns to emergency coaches -- a lot

Sidelines

October 13, 1999|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

With the hiring of Jim McCandless as baseball coach last week, Severna Park, one of the county's eight 4A schools, now has 11 head coaches who are not in the building, and only three of those are teachers in the county system.

The eight non-teachers fall into the emergency coach status, and while that has become somewhat of a trend countywide, it is an extraordinary number at Severna Park and is believed to be the highest among the county's 12 public schools.

Of the 11 non-faculty head coaches at Severna Park, the three who teach at other county schools are Paul Pellicani (boys basketball), Chuck Seivert (girls soccer) and Carin Peterson (girls lacrosse).

In its rules and regulations, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association says under coaching eligibility: "If no acceptable and qualified coaches are available from the teachers or certifiable professional educators teachers employed by the local board of education, temporary emergency coaches may be employed "

Coaches and athletic directors around the county are asking, what's going on at Severna Park?

Has winning become such a priority that athletic director Wayne Mook and principal Mary Gable are hiring coaches with that in mind?

Why aren't there enough teachers in the school to fill those positions?

"It's [winning] important, and we want to build the best staff we can," said Mook. "I want to hire coaches who will get the boys teams winning like the girls teams do.

"Unfortunately, our faculty has been there a long time and they're not into coaching. And it seems like a lot of the new young teachers don't want to get into coaching."

For years, the fall has belonged to the Severna Park girls teams in field hockey, soccer and volleyball.

All three teams have claimed state titles, with in-school teachers Lil Shelton and Tim Dunbar guiding the field hockey and volleyball teams, respectively. Non-faculty members, but teachers, Joyce Stefancik and Seivert have been the girls soccer coaches.

Football and boys soccer have always had head coaches in the building and still do, but neither of those sports has won a state title.

In the winter, boys and girls basketball along with wrestling are run by non-faculty members. The school has never won a state title in those three sports.

Baseball is the only major spring sport in which Severna Park has never won a state title. Boys and girls lacrosse and softball have done it.

Veteran teacher Kevin McGrath was let go last year after 17 seasons (265-154) and replaced by non-teacher Bill Giblin because he couldn't get the girls basketball team to the top.

"Winning should be secondary because a coach should be an educator first, but that's not the way they see it at Severna Park these days," said McGrath.

"I know Wayne and Mary Gable got a lot of pressure from parents because we didn't win state championships, but I always felt we were teaching the girls the right things about life."

McGrath was also overlooked for the baseball job in favor of McCandless, who is the only paid staffer of the volunteer Green Hornets youth organization. A middle school teacher, McGrath was a loyal assistant for 25 years to retired baseball coach Jim Pitt and at one time assisted the football program under Andy Borland.

"I've coached 52 seasons [all three sports combined] at Severna Park, and this is what I get," said McGrath, who was one of three teachers who applied for the baseball job.

"I get fired as girls basketball coach and don't get the baseball job I thought I deserved a shot at. My wife is more upset over all of this than I am. I don't know what Wayne [Mook] is trying to do. "

Mook had "no comment" on McGrath.

In contrast, Arundel High adheres steadfastly to the hiring of teacher/coaches. Recently, Wildcats athletic director Bernie Walter hired Sam Golder as boys basketball coach to replace ex-Navy standout Hank Kuzma, who is not a teacher.

Walter made it clear that Kuzma had done an excellent job, but "we had a chance to hire a teacher in the school, and it's important to us to have our coaches in the building. They get a better grasp of what goes on with the students and faculty."

Golder teaches English at Arundel.

Mook says despite the high number of emergency coaches and a total of 11 not in building, the school advertises those positions each year, which is mandatory by state and county rules.

"We just don't seem to get a lot of response from teachers qualified to coach," said Mook.

Sideliners

If the state football playoffs began today, Anne Arundel would have three teams in postseason: 3A Annapolis, 4A North County and Severna Park. Fifth-ranked Annapolis (6-0) not only leads the 3A East region but has more playoff points (63) than any team in the state.

North County (6-0) paces the 4A East region with 55 points over 5-1 teams Westminster (49.3) and Severna Park (45.1).

Have a note or idea for Sidelines? Call Pat O'Malley's 24-hour Sportsline at 410-647-2499.

Coming in

Severna Park High's 11 head coaches not in the building -- eight are considered emergency coaches:

Coach Sport

*Chuck Seivert girls soccer

*Paul Pellicani boys basketball

Bill Giblin girls basketball

Ralph Toomey wrestling

Diane McCall cheerleading

Jim McCandless baseball

Jeff Shepherd softball

Mike Bellotte boys lacrosse

*Carin Peterson girls lacrosse

Bob Naworal tennis

Brian Zuber gymnastics

* teachers, but not in the building.

NOTE: Naworal is a retired teacher and therefore considered an emergency coach.

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