Intense alum Schwoy driven to help motivate McDonogh

On High Schools

September 26, 2004|By MILTON KENT

AS LAURIE SCHWOY sees it, the fifth-ranked McDonogh girls soccer team is loaded with nice kids with nice skills and a nice collective work ethic.

And perhaps that's the problem, Schwoy says: The kids are just too, well, nice.

"I just think my mentality was a little different and I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing," Schwoy said. "I was just totally 100 percent consumed by soccer and by succeeding and scoring goals. Maybe that's not such a great thing, but I don't see that.

"I was very driven, self-driven and self-motivated. I see moments of that with some of the girls, but I don't see it all the time."

Schwoy, a three-time All-American in her days at McDonogh as a striker, is back at the Owings Mills school as an assistant coach on a mission to impart some of her knowledge, but, perhaps more importantly, a lot of her fighting spirit, on today's Eagles.

It has been said that the toughest thing for a talented athlete to become is a coach, because the new coach tends to expect from his or her charges performance on the level that they once produced.

Because Schwoy, 26, is relatively close in age to the players, and because she still has notions of playing again, the question about her ability to teach while keeping expectations reasonable was there.

"She's able to separate herself. She's not the player, she's the coach," said assistant coach Bridget Collins. "She's constantly teaching and asking the kids questions. When we're in this situation, what do we do? She's got it drilled into their heads and it's an educational thing. The kids have this rote memory. She's not only hitting them with the physical skills, but with the mental teaching and lessons."

Those physical skills were uncanny. Schwoy scored a state-record 198 goals in four years, and was named the metro area's Player of the Year twice. At North Carolina, she scored 31 goals and had 33 assists, being named an All-American three times, with a national title thrown in.

But while in Chapel Hill, Schwoy suffered nagging hamstring injuries to both legs, which required three surgeries to relax tension on the tendons. Schwoy played for a time with Philadelphia in the Women's United Soccer Association, but the hamstring ailments flared up and her time with the Charge was spotty.

Schwoy continues to be hampered by those hamstring problems, which kept her from being a part of the U.S. Olympic team that captured gold in Athens last month. The WUSA ran out of money after the 2003 season, but is hoping to restart at some point if it can find investors. Schwoy says she'd think about going back to the league, hamstrings willing.

In the interim, McDonogh coach Maurice Boylan Jr. occasionally called to gauge Schwoy's interest in being an assistant. For various reasons, Schwoy kept hemming and hawing about coming back, then, at the beginning of training camp late this summer, she reported for duty and not a moment too soon, for Boylan's taste.

"She brings an intensity to the game and the practices that the players respond to," Boylan said. "We need more women like Laurie. That's part of the problem with women's soccer. There's just not enough, not only ex-players, but women who can demonstrate that intensity and can teach women. Men still have that over women at this time. We have some good ones, but she's going to be a great one and she's going to end up somewhere. Whoever gets her is going to be blessed."

For now, McDonogh has her, and the marriage is a good one. It's not hard to see some of Schwoy's gift for scoring in current Eagles striker Brittany Tegeler, who had five goals and three assists in Thursday's 11-1 win over Catholic.

Tegeler says Schwoy brings a passion to the team that makes their practices "10 times better." Schwoy says her protege is "electric on the ball and fun to watch."

Now, if Schwoy could just make Tegeler a little meaner, the circle would be complete.

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