Schreiber not ready to walk away

Boys lacrosse: Dulaney coach Gary Schreiber continues to put off retirement as he attempts to extend the Lions' record of consecutive state titles to five.

High Schools

April 23, 2004|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

If it's spring, then it's lacrosse season. And if it's lacrosse season, then that means Dulaney's Gary Schreiber has considered retirement only to return to coach the Lions.

It's a process the 58-year-old coach has repeated prior to each of his past five seasons, the past four of which have ended with the Lions winning a Class 4A-3A boys title.

"I love going to that first day of practice, seeing all the new talent, going through my mind about just how I'm going to bring it all together," said Schreiber, in his 17th season for the eighth-ranked Lions (5-1), whose four straight 4A-3A titles are a record. "But I'm also ambiguous every year, mostly because of my generic age, about whether I should or shouldn't retire."

His retirement would end Maryland's most dominant coaching reign in boys public school lacrosse - one that includes six state crowns since 1990. Since the beginning of the 2000 season, Dulaney is 65-10 overall and 61-1 against public school teams, including a 46-game winning streak dating back to an 8-7 loss to Fallston in April 2001.

In Baltimore County, Dulaney is 43-0 since May 1999, when Hereford's 10-6 win made it the only county team to beat the Lions at home during Schreiber's tenure.

"I think about what it might be like not being a part of lacrosse on a nice spring day, not working with kids or experiencing the intensity of the games," said Schreiber, whose Lions meet second-ranked St. Paul's at 4 p.m. in tomorrow's Lacrosse Showdown at Johns Hopkins. "I consider those things - that whole picture - just fading away and I just can't see it."

"Each year he's supposed to be leaving, but each year, he's back," said North Carolina junior Bryant Will, who led Dulaney to titles in 2000 and 2001. "But I can't believe he returned this year after winning four in a row."

Even his son, Bret Schreiber, was surprised by his father's return, considering only one starter, Will Englehart, is back from last year's team. In fact, Lions senior goalie Justin Woodford failed to make last year's squad.

"I think part of the reason he's back is that he sees this as a challenge. There's an element of `Can I win with a team no one thinks is any good?' " said the younger Schreiber, a former All-Metro player at North Harford. "But I think it's more that coaching has become part of who he is."

Schreiber is described as "laid back" on the sideline by Princeton freshman defender Zac Jungers, a member of the teams that won four straight titles.

Dick Cromwell listed Schreiber's calm demeanor among the reasons Cromwell chose to become his assistant five years ago. "When I was a lacrosse official," Cromwell said, "Gary never yelled at me."

Yet this year's Lions have tested the patience of the former Johns Hopkins attackman. Schreiber screamed at players during a mistake-filled, season-opening win over Catonsville, lamenting dropped passes, penalties and their failure to substitute properly.

During a preseason scrimmage, however, Broadneck coach Clay White said he saw a state championship-caliber team. "They showed good off-ball movement, played smart," White said. "Gary gave them a lot of offensive freedom. He's a players' coach."

Towson University freshman Kyle Batton agrees. He was a sophomore in 2001 when Dulaney overcame a fourth-quarter, two-goal deficit in an 11-10 state-title win over Arundel.

"Coach Schreiber took us aside and asked, `What do you want to do?' He trusted us," Batton recalled. "We developed a play where Mike [Obringer] passed to me from behind the goal, and I fed Eric [Wittelsberger] on a no-looker for a big goal."

Schreiber showed similar faith in Obringer in the next year's 16-15, double-overtime win over Severna Park. Obringer scored the game-winner after hitting the pipe in the first overtime.

"I was down at first, but I knew he'd give me another shot," said Obringer, a sophomore at Army. "Thinking he was coaching his last state final, it was great to win for him."

Dulaney football coach Steve Watts has heard Schreiber's "one more year" vow more times than he can recall, adding, "I think he'll be around until he's 90."

Schreiber won't dispute that.

"To stop coaching would be like giving up something that's become a part of you. I can't say I'm ready to do that," Schreiber said. "Right now, I don't want this phase of my life to go away."

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