Balanced Crew still stands out

Soccer: River Hill's scoring leader and possible All-American, opted for academics over his sport earlier this year. But his best playing days still lie ahead.

High schools

November 19, 1999|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Part of the family mythology is that two-time All-Metro striker Adom Crew's uncle, Carl, ran second in the 100-yard dash to Jesse Owens in high school in Ohio.

"We've never checked it out for fear it may not be true," said Adom's father, Spencer, who played football, basketball and ran track in high school.

One thing is certain, future Crew generations won't have to look far to check out Adom's athletic accomplishments at 4-year-old River Hill High.

He is a leading candidate to be named one of two All-American soccer players from Maryland Monday at the annual Maryland Association of Coaches of Soccer all-star game at UMBC.

As a four-year River Hill starter and two-time captain, the 6-foot-1, 165-pound striker has helped the Hawks to a 66-7 record and back-to-back state titles.

The Hawks, top-ranked in the Baltimore metro area for the third straight year and 21st nationwide, will seek a three-peat against Fallston in tonight's Class 3A final at UMBC Stadium.

Crew's personal stats, 14 goals and 17 assists this season, have been held down by restricted playing time caused by River Hill's overwhelming success.

"Once our lead reaches 3-0, Coach [Bill] Stara sits down the starters," said Crew. "That's kind of frustrating, but this is a program, and it has to build for the future by giving younger guys playing time."

During a 17-1 season in which the Hawks have outscored opponents 78-8, shut out 12, and scored fewer than three goals only twice, it's clear that starters such as Crew have sat many minutes. Even so, Crew's 54 career goals and 40 assists establish a strong legacy for future Hawks.

He calls winning the first state title in 1997, his sophomore year, his biggest thrill at River Hill, explaining: "We lost the state title game my freshman year, and I had played on two club teams that lost in the state-cup finals twice. So it meant a lot to finally win."

He has played three years at the Olympic Development Program level and was part of a 25-member pool from which the Under-17 national men's team was selected. That 18-player squad, billed as the core of a well-financed American attempt to win the 2010 World Cup, is now playing in the FIFA World Youth Championships in New Zealand.

To be on that team, though, Crew would have had to move to Florida for schooling and full-time training that began in January. But his parents decided academics were more important and withdrew his name from consideration before the team -- including three other Marylanders -- was picked.

Crew carries a perfect 4.0 grade-point average, has a 1,300 SAT, and is taking advanced-placement courses in biology and statistics.

"The key is to keep things in balance," said his father, director of the Smithsonian Institution's American History Museum. "We felt he'd worked hard for his grades and wanted to keep him intellectually challenged and weren't sure what some of the top schools would think" [if he had gone to Florida.]

Crew's mother, Sandra, is assistant principal at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School.

Crew was a bit disappointed at missing that soccer opportunity. But he has traveled as far as California with the national team and will play for his Columbia United club team in two college-showcase tournaments, the Capitol Cup Thanksgiving weekend and in the Sun Bowl in Tampa, Fla., over the Christmas holidays.

His college choices have narrowed to Maryland, Yale and Brown. His parents attended Brown, and his sister, Alika, a three-sport athlete at Atholton, attends Brown.

Crew, who also played youth basketball, elected to focus on soccer, because he thought it offered more opportunities.

"Not many Howard County players are playing Division I basketball, but there are quite a few playing Division I soccer," he said.

He received his early soccer training from Oakland Mills coach Don Shea, for whom he played five years as a member of the Columbia Chelsea youth team. Stara has coached him for six years.

Crew, whose exceptional speed is an asset, scored nine goals in five 1997 playoff games, including a hat trick and the game-winner in a 4-3 region-title victory over Mount Hebron.

Since then, he has been marked constantly and has learned to feed teammates. His assists have gone from five his sophomore season to 14 last year and 17 this season.

"Part of Adom's success is that he's been surrounded by good players," Stara said. "He was a good player when I got him and has developed and progressed. He has some of his best years ahead of him. He's still growing. His quickness is deceiving. He's long-legged and covers a lot of ground."

Crew, who plans to study sports medicine, physical therapy or economics in college, won't rule out the possibility of playing professionally.

"I'd love to play pro soccer if the opportunity and pay were there," he said.

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