Passion for winning, family brings out 2 faces of Shriver

Boys' Latin: An intense perfectionist on the lacrosse field, the coach is a patient and understanding man off it, especially where his son with Down syndrome is concerned.

High Schools

April 17, 2003|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Photos on the wall of his Lutherville home depict Bob Shriver the way he often appears during games with rivals of Boys' Latin, the school he has led to national prominence in high school lacrosse.

Intense is one way to describe Shriver, 52, who is in his 24th year as head coach.

His son David, 15, describes one photo that shows Shriver "getting in an official's face" during a game in 1996. "He's running on the field, his hands are open and his arms spread apart just yelling at the guy.

"Then there's another picture we have of him just screaming at a kid during a huddle ... for making a bad play. He loves the kids, but he can't stand bad plays and he can't stand losing.

"The shrill of his voice ... people can hear him from anywhere," said David, a Boys' Latin freshman who plays junior varsity lacrosse. "There are so many stories."

But the son says the man everyone sees on the sideline is nothing like the gentle father he sees at home.

"He's a really good dad, and much, much nicer [at home]," he said, especially with David's 18-year-old brother.

Bobby Jr., who has Down syndrome, was born in February 1985 to Bob and Jasmine Shriver. That spring, Shriver led a Boys' Latin team to what would be his first of four championships. In the years to come, during a period in which he and his wife grappled with Bobby Jr.'s severe health problems, he coached the Lakers to seven title games in the MIAA A Conference.

Last spring, Shriver was named All-Metro Coach of The Year for the fifth time after leading Boys' Latin to the conference crown and a 20-2 record.

This spring, his team continues to perform atop a league that is considered the nation's premier high school lacrosse conference. The Lakers (10-1) are ranked No. 1 in The Sun. Shriver also has been named to coach the Under-19 team that will represent US Lacrosse in competition at Towson University on June 26 to July 5.

"Bobby Shriver always seems to maximize the results and the potential of his teams, regardless of the talent level. He seems to will his teams into playing hard and being successful," said Jody Martin, men's division director for US Lacrosse.

Calling the sport "a colossal part" of his life, Shriver said, "I enjoy the game so much, but that can also be a weakness.

"Some people see me as a man who makes more noise than maybe he needs to make. I can be hard on officials, players, everybody. But I'm hardest on myself."

Shriver has a 307-91 record as head coach of the private college preparatory school in north Roland Park, where he teaches seventh-grade science.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't incredibly proud of the accomplishments, but nobody does anything like this by himself," said Shriver, crediting his coaching staff and the talent of present and past players.

A team effort

The Lakers' 17-0 championship squad of 1997 was named the best high school team of the past three decades in the latest edition of High School Lacrosse America. It produced six collegiate All-Americans, eight players who captained their college teams, and participants on seven collegiate national championship teams.

David Rose, an All-Metro defender on that team who went on to play at Maryland, said Shriver "maximizes the potential of every player whether he's the fourth guy on the bench or the starter." He has returned as a Lakers assistant.

Shriver has sent dozens of players to Division I colleges, and helps them during the recruiting process.

"I've seen what Bobby does for kids when they try to get to college, making that extra phone call, sending that extra tape, going that extra mile," said Dyson Ehrhardt, Boys' Latin's associate headmaster since 1970. "And when something doesn't go right for them, he hurts for the kid."

Sometimes players see Shriver's tender side when they visit the family's home. Jasmine Shriver, 46, said players have shown surprise at the way he is around Bobby Jr.

"You would think that a man that is so demanding of perfection in the kids he coaches, he would be perhaps impatient with a child like little Bobby at home," she said. "But he's so patient with little Bobby, sometimes it makes you want to cry."

Jasmine said when the Shrivers found out Bobby was developmentally disabled, at age 6, educators "were not allowing children like my son into regular schools." Her civil rights complaint as part of a group of parents prompted Baltimore County's move toward inclusion, or the instruction of disabled children in mainstream schools.

Bobby Jr. and another boy were featured in a television documentary. "ABC News followed us around for a year. They showed the two boys in their educational environments - the other boy was in a regular school with the same disability, and little Bobby was at a special school, which he still is in today," Jasmine said.

The cameras also showed him cheering on his father's team. "Every time Boys' Latin wins, we go out to dinner or we do something special," she said.

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