After 29 years coaching field hockey and teaching physical education at Roland Park Country School, Debbie Bloodsworth is saying goodbye.
"I won't be returning to Roland Park," Bloodsworth said. "It's time for me to make a change. I've been coaching for a long time. I may move from the area. In fact, I'm thinking seriously about that. My mother is 80 and lives in Princes Anne, in Summerset County, about three hours from here. I'm thinking about moving there and reconnecting with some of my family."
She said she is not ruling out teaching again, "but that's not my plan right now. I want to take some time to see what else is out there."
Archbishop Spalding coach Leslee Brady said Bloodsworth's announcement caught her and others in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference by surprise.
"She sent an email to all the coaches, thanking us for all the support we'd given during the years," Brady said. "She has been a big part of the IAAM and she will be missed. But I know, when you've been coaching for years and years, you do start to ask yourself, 'What's next?' I wish her the best. She's been a good steward of the game."
Over nearly three decades, Bloodsworth coached her teams to 246 victories and nine championships. This year's team finished 9-8, the squad's best finish since last winning the championship in 2005.
"When I came to Roland Park, I was hoping to be there for a long time," said Bloodsworth, 56. "It worked out. It was a good partnership between me, the students and the administration. I think I've been a decent, competent coach. I had good athletes and we had good fortune . . . Things worked out very nicely."
Bloodsworth said her goal was always to get her team to the championship series. But more important than winning, she said, was how her team progressed through each season.
"That was really the most satisfying thing, seeing the growth the teams made from beginning to end," Bloodsworth said. "For me, it's all about playing the game. … It's more about the process than the product. But in our culture today it seems the decision has been made that the product [winning] is the only thing that matters. Certainly that's my view of what has happened and it isn't as satisfying to coach now."
Bloodsworth put to rest rumors her departure might be because of a personal illness, saying, "No, no. I'm not ill. It just seems like the right time to go, I can't explain it any better than that."
Atholton's Kelly trades coaching role for that of dad
There were times this season when Atholton baseball coach Kevin Kelly was on his team's bench in the middle of a game and his mind would wander.
"At times when I should have been concentrating on our team, I'd find myself wondering how my son, who played this year for the Mount Hebron junior varsity, was doing," he said. "At times I was pretty conflicted. I know it's time for someone else. As a dad, you don't get this opportunity too often, to be able to watch your child play ball, unless he plays for you."
Kelly — who is stepping down as Atholton's coach — is hopeful that his son, Sean, will make the Mount Hebron varsity next year, and his daughter Grace plays lacrosse at Patapsco Middle School
"I'll get to go to more of her games, too," he said. "You don't want to miss those opportunities."
Kelly, 56, was Atholton's head varsity coach for 21 years and coached the school's junior varsity baseball team for 14 years before that. During his tenure, the Raiders went 284-173, won the 2002 state title, were a finalist from 1994-1996 and were semifinalists in 2006 and 2010. This year they finished 19-3, reaching the 3A East Regional final and ending the season as the Baltimore Sun's No. 5 team.
"You'd like to go out winning. And 19-3 is not bad, though it didn't take us as far as we would have liked," said Kelly, who will remain a guidance counselor at Atholton. "What I liked about coaching was being able to influence kids in a positive way. It was more about teaching kids the right way to do things. There is something to be said for hard work, for teaching them that when they go out in life to do whatever it is they undertake, that they do it the best they can."
Poly's Headley steps down after 10 titles
In 10 seasons as the Poly girls lacrosse coach, Josh Headley has guided the Engineers to every Baltimore City championship.
During the last few years, though, his priorities have been switching to a couple of other athletes — son Justin, 8, and daughter Paige, 5.
"I really want to see my kids grow up," Headley said, "and I had heard from too many long-time coaches, 'Yeah, I never saw my kids' games.' I don't want to be that guy."