Phone call eases way for River Hill coach

Soccer player offers to help in transition


September 06, 2006|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,sun reporter

A quick phone call went a long way for new River Hill boys soccer coach Matt Shagogue last spring.

He was returning home from his first official meeting with the team since replacing longtime coach Bill Stara when one of his new players, Tunji Williams, called his cell phone.

Williams, a senior captain who plays stopper, had to leave the meeting early before getting a chance to formerly introduce himself. The effort to put in the phone call made a lasting impression on Shagogue.

"He said, `I just want to let you know anything that you need me to do to make this transition easier, anything you need to help this team, I'm there,'" Shagogue said. "Not only did he talk the talk, but he's walked the walk. The call really took me aback."

In his first job as a varsity coach, Shagogue has the daunting task of replacing the legendary Stara, who won a state-best 14 state championships, including seven in the past 10 years at River Hill.

The Hawks, who shared last year's Class 3A state title with Towson, have 12 seniors who have been in the program for the previous three years under Stara.

"One of the things I've been working on with the kids is just basically building relationships with them," said Shagogue, a Towson University graduate who has coached junior varsity at Archbishop Spalding and Reservoir High. "It's difficult to come in new when some kids are accustomed to the same coach the past three years, and it's difficult to break tradition. You don't want to re- invent the wheel, but you certainly want to do some of your own things you believe in."

Williams, who was appointed a captain by his teammates this season, was a transfer from Michigan last year, so he could relate to what Shagogue was going through.

"It was really tough moving here in the 11th grade, but all the guys on the team really welcomed me, and I felt it was only right to extend that same welcoming hand to him," Williams said. "It's a tough job to replace Coach Stara - you can't really do that. But I think he's done a good job so far. The way he came in and first introduced himself, I know the guys had a lot of respect for him right from the start."

The Hawks will open the season at 5:30 p.m. today against visiting Spalding.

In girls soccer, Centennial's new coach, Kristen McManus, also has a tough assignment. She is expected to maintain the excellence the three-time defending county champion Eagles showed under former coach Mike Sinisi.

"I just love soccer," said McManus, who coached the Eagles' junior varsity team last year. "I'm a teacher at Centennial, so I know the girls well and I'm looking forward to getting to know them in a different capacity as their coach on the field. I'm sure they'll miss Mike, but I think they're excited for a fresh start and looking forward to seeing what this new season will bring."

Women's lacrosse

Two Howard County residents were recently named to the U.S. under-19 women's lacrosse team after tryouts at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Mount Hebron senior Bria Eulitt, a defender for the state champion Vikings, and Lauren Fenlon, a Dayton resident who plays at Good Counsel in Wheaton, were selected to the 24-player roster. More than 150 players from 19 states tried out for the team.

The team, guided by Bryn Mawr coach Wendy Kridel, will be reduced to 18 players before competing in the 2007 IFWLA U-19 World Championships next summer in Peterborough, Ontario.

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