Juggling roles as coach, administrator and dad


John Spinnenweber of Pasadena has a nearly nonstop schedule


It's probably fair to say that basketball and sports are a big part of John Spinnenweber's life.

The Pasadena resident has worked with Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks for 17 years, often helping to run basketball programs during the winter. He has also coached boys and girls varsity basketball at Chesapeake High since 1993.

This winter, he and Jeff Porter have been assigned to run all of the county Recreation and Parks girls basketball programs for 8- to 13-year-olds. He is the facility superintendent at the Bachman Sports Complex and also runs the men's 18-senior basketball programs, which have been happening for several seasons. Spinnenweber also played the game at Northeast High and Anne Arundel Community College before finishing his career at the University of Baltimore.

If that weren't enough basketball, the youngest of Spinnenweber's five children, 9-year-old Drew, plays for the Lake Shore program.

"No public high school coach is into coaching for the money," Spinnenweber said. "It's for the love of the game, [but I've] got more to juggle this year. It's definitely had an impact on what I've had to do with my team at Chesapeake."

Spinnenweber is in a rebuilding mode at Chesapeake. The Cougar girls had an 8-15 record last year and are trying to get back to where they were in 2002. That's when Chesapeake won the Class 4A East Region championship, losing in the state semifinals to Churchill, the eventual champion.

He's also trying to get a handle on all of the leagues that are starting up this winter. Combine all of that with his five children - each of whom is deeply involved in sports - and Spinnenweber and his wife, Ann, become very busy parents every weekend.

His two oldest children are out of the recreation sports arena. Spinnenweber's son John just graduated from St. Mary's, where he played baseball. Daughter Lynnea is a junior lacrosse player at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Another daughter, Amanda, is a senior at Chesapeake High and just accepted a lacrosse scholarship to play at Maryland starting next year.

The two youngest boys keep their parents busy. In addition to Drew, Steve is 13 and wrestles for Chesapeake Youth Wrestling.

"My wife and I aren't really pushing the kids," Spinnenweber said. "But [sports] is something they love doing. As parents, it's great seeing your kids having fun."

The children's schedules kept their parents jumping around quite a bit Saturday. They got up before sunrise, and John took Steve to a wrestling tournament at 6:30 a.m. at Chesapeake High. Ann later relieved her husband, who had to go to his high school team's practice at a local church. Spinnenweber ran his team's practice, and then needed an assistant coach to handle the final part of the workout so that he could go do more activities.

Spinnenweber took Drew to his game in Annapolis and checked various rec games at sites, making sure that all were running properly before getting a short break. He then had to take Drew to a soccer team party at night - Ann remained at wrestling throughout the day - and the entire schedule ended about 7 p.m.

"He understands sports, he provides our organization with great leadership and great understanding of youth sports, from all sides," said Franklin Chaney, county recreation administrator and Spinnenweber's boss. "He understands it as a player, he understands it as a parent, he understands it as a youth and high school coach, and he's been successful at all those things."

Spinnenweber is glad that his children have the opportunity to play sports and stay involved in positive activities.

"There's a whole lot more opportunities for kids now than there was when we grew up," Spinnenweber said. "As parents, when our kids are thankful [for something], that makes things worthwhile."

The 46-year-old Spinnenweber said his winter weekends will remain hectic as he juggles being a sports parent, sports coach and sports administrator. Having to run the girls league has changed things, and Spinnenweber tries to keep everything in some kind of order.

"It's hard to do," he said. "I wouldn't say I'm the most organized or focused person alive. I've got a good wife that helps keep me straight."

Porter agreed that Ann Spinnenweber truly helps her husband in every way, such as with organization.

"You should see John's desk," he said with a laugh, but added that there's no question that Spinnenweber enjoys what he does, especially when it involves basketball.

"It amazes me how much he juggles everything," Porter said. "Getting five kids where they have to be, coaching basketball and doing what we do at our real jobs. When you talk to him, you can hear it in his voice, and you can see it in his eyes that he really loves the sport."

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