Severna Park field hockey coach Lil Shelton retires

Shelton steps away with record 20 titles after 37 years

  • Severna Park coach Lil Shelton hugs Cassie Ballard after winning the 2008 Class 4A state field hockey championship. Shelton is retiring after finishing her 37th season at the school --and winning a record 20th state title -- this fall.
Severna Park coach Lil Shelton hugs Cassie Ballard after winning… (Patrick Smith, Baltimore…)
November 18, 2011|By Sandra McKee

Severna Park coach Lil Shelton watched her field hockey team celebrate its 20th state championship Saturday and wondered out loud, “How can I leave them? It’s so much fun.”

But Shelton had in fact already decided to retire, a decision she announced at the squad’s end-of-season banquet Thursday night.

“It was pretty weepy,” Shelton, who had coached the team for 37 years, said in a phone interview Friday. “But I told them, I’m not going to disappear. I’m going to sit up in the press box at games with the announcer and make comments — ‘Hurry up! Get down that field!’ No. I wouldn’t dare to do that. It’s really hard [to retire].”

Shelton — whose 20 titles are a National Federation record — said she made the decision for a variety of reasons. The primary deciding factor, however, came last summer when athletic director Wayne Mook told her the school was going to be torn down and rebuilt, partly on what is now the field hockey turf field. Shelton said when she heard that, she knew she didn’t want to go through all the upheavel.

“To me, it would have been like starting over,” she said “When I first came here, I started out having our practices behind the school on the softball field. I didn’t want to go through all that again.”

Shelton, who arrived at the school in 1971, built the Falcons’ program from scratch after finding a bunch of worn sticks in a school closet.

“I don’t know when they were ever used before, and I didn’t know anything about the game — I’d never played,” she said. “But I read books and started the girls playing in my physical education class.”

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.