Payne gets players' support


When Mount de Sales field hockey coach Pat Payne's son was deployed to Iraq earlier this month, Brittany Jacobs wanted to show how much the Sailors cared.

"I couldn't imagine how she must feel," said Jacobs, a senior team captain. "We have to do community service here, so it's been instilled in us to always help as much as we can. We saw how much stress she was under and how she was struggling with it. We all realized we had to do something to help."

Most of the Sailors' support comes through prayer and being more attentive to Payne's feelings.

"We try to be more supportive of her in practice and have some understanding of what she's going through," Sailors senior Lizze O'Ferrall said. "It's hard for us, because we have no idea what that's like, so we just try to make her job easier."

As Payne saw her oldest son, Patrick, 19, off from the Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Aug. 27, the Sailors were prepping for the season with play-day competition. Lizze's father John O'Ferrall stepped in as temporary coach and got instructions via cell phone from Payne.

The third-year head coach said she is grateful for all of the support, especially because with the exception of one team father who is a former Marine, none of the players or parents have military connections. She can't say enough about her players.

"What's helped is they know it's foremost on my mind," Payne said. "I think the kids can sense when I'm worried. It's been good to coach them, because it's a little diversion."

The players are also planning to send care packages to Patrick, a Calvert Hall graduate who is expected to be in Iraq seven to nine months on his first deployment overseas. Jacobs is organizing a team sleepover for early next month, so the girls can write cards and gather toiletries and snacks to be packaged.

"We want to send him some things that he likes," Jacobs said, "so we can let him know people at home support him and are praying for him."

OK with nickname

With a nationwide movement to ban the use of Native American nicknames, mascots and logos gaining momentum, Franklin senior Michelle Donadio is very proud to run under the school's Indians nickname.

Donadio, whose mother M.J. Wolf is of Comanche ancestry, said she does not feel that Franklin's mascot insults or demeans her heritage.

"I think it should be kept," said Donadio, who intends to participate in the Sacred Run, a series of 6-mile relays crisscrossing the North and South American continents and preaching peace and oneness with the land. "I think that it honors them."

So far, Franklin has resisted changing its nickname. Three other Maryland high schools use Indians as their nicknames, while Chopticon of St. Mary's County uses the Braves.

Poolesville of Montgomery County switched from the Indians to the Falcons for the 2002 school year, while Edmondson in Baltimore City dropped Redskins in favor of Red Storm for the 2003 school year.

Sisterly rivals

The dinnertime chatter at the Gibbons' residence in Columbia has some extra spice this fall.

That's what happens when you have sisters playing on rival teams.

With Alex Gibbons in her senior season at Notre Dame Prep and Megan Gibbons a freshman at McDonogh - each starting midfielders for their respective teams - the sibling rivalry began.

"We're both really competitive, so we've been talking a little - it's been fun. It steps up the intensity and makes me want to win even more," Alex said.

Round one, however, went to little sis, Megan, and she was a big reason why.

The two teams met on Sept. 13 and McDonogh came away with a 4-3 win. Megan scored an insurance goal in the second half to give the Eagles a 4-2 lead that turned out to be the game-winner when Notre Dame Prep scored in the game's closing minutes.

It was the first time they played against each other in a game and they crossed paths in the middle of the field plenty.

"One time, we were both going for the ball - both pushing on each other - and I won it, but then got a foul called on me. Alex knew it was her fault and she laughed at me," Megan said.

Although she thoroughly enjoyed the win, Megan made sure to keep quiet during the drive home together.

"She knows better than that," Alex said.

Gators go on offense

For the past few years, Perry Hall has relied heavily on its defense to stay in contention in the Baltimore County girls soccer race. This season, the Gators offense has jumped into the spotlight.

Last fall, the Gators managed just five goals against their top seven opponents. This season, the No. 12 Gators scored 13 goals against four of their tougher opponents - then-No. 3 McDonogh, Dulaney, Towson and then-No. 7 Eastern Tech.

Striker Jessica Knight, who has committed to play next year at Richmond, has eight goals and an assist, including two goals and one assist in last week's 3-0 win over defending Baltimore County champion Eastern Tech.

Christa Debole also creates a lot of offense up top and midfielder Katie Emminger feeds plenty of through balls.

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