Letter from a coach: Thanks for the memories

Letter to the sports editor

May 30, 2012

I would like to say "thank you" to all the wonderful students, players, parents, staff, administrators, my assistant coaches, sports writers and opposing coaches. During my 35-year tenure at Centennial High School, I have been blessed. I have worked with the best! I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to be part of the Howard County Public School System. All of you have helped make my career unforgettable.

To my students and players, you have touched me in a way that is very special. Each one of you has left an indelible piece of yourself with me. You are why I stayed as long as I did. Your laughter, smiles, and even some of the difficult times helped me realize I had chosen the best career. I will miss you most of all.

Parents, I appreciate your ongoing support and entrusting me with your children. It is a big responsibility knowing that you are contributing, in some small way, to who they will become.

Field hockey, lacrosse and basketball parents, what a wonderful ride we have had. I could not have done it without you. You're the best! I miss you and will carry fond memories of all the wonderful times we shared as family.

Staff and administrators, I have taught with and have been taught by many outstanding individuals. My colleagues are the most extraordinary in the state, if not the country.

I have learned much over my stint at Cenennial because of these dedicated individuals.

Where do I begin to thank all my assistant coaches? There are too many to name. Many were former players of mine and without them we would never have had the success we did.

Success is measured in very many ways. You are only as good as the people who surround you, and I was incredibly blessed to have outstanding people coach with me. You have my gratitude.

Without the Columbia Flier, many would have been deprived of the ups, downs and escapades of all of us involved in sports. We have incredible journalists who could spin a tale of what happened on the field or in the gym. They could make you feel as though you had been there. Thanks especially to Karen Brelsford, Carol Gralia and Stan Rappaport.

Finally, I must thank the opposing coaches, especially in field hockey. We were adversaries during competition, but off the field we felt more like friends. We would laugh together, and tease one another. We celebrated the end of each season with a dinner together with the officials and journalists. That is one of my most special memories, thanks for being the sisters I never had.

While closing out this chapter of my life, I look back with fond memories, and ahead with great anticipation.

Again thank you for being involved in the ride of my life.

Gail D. Purcell

Centennial High School

Editor's note: Purcell coached field hockey, basketball and lacrosse at Centennial, which she helped open. She is retiring in June.

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