As the summer air starts to cool and the kids head back to school, it means the high school fall sports season is upon us. Memories of last year’s successes and failures have mostly been forgotten. A new crop of freshmen get to experience high-school sports for the first time, while the seniors are provided the final opportunity to define their legacy.
This moment provides a new beginning for every coach and their championship dreams, an opportunity to see how far they can climb their respective sports mountain. The coaches have a fresh chance to mold and influence a unique group of teenagers into a working unit with a common purpose towards their ultimate goals.
The coaches have prepared all summer, spending countless hours tweaking their practice plans, strategies and tactics, hopeful in improving over last year’s performance — and maybe going all the way to the state championship. Yet, it’s obvious only two teams from the Maryland Class 3A division will make this heralded game.
So, what drives the passion and energy of our local high school coaches?
I decided to pose a few questions to the Urbana High School (UHS) fall coaches. I asked the boys’ varsity soccer head coach, Scott Schartner, “What motivates you to coach?”
Schartner responded, “It provides the opportunity to effect positive change in a young person’s life through a shared passion, the sport we both love.”
Head Football Coach Ryan Hines, in his third year at the helm for the UHS Hawks, was asked, “What is it you enjoy most about the beginning of a new season?”
Hines replied, “There is so much optimism at the beginning of the season. It is a special time with the players. There is such diversity in the emotions you see in them. Seniors are usually so anxious to get on the field and practice,” Hines said. “The juniors are in a new world coming from JV, where they were the oldest players, to now being in a situation where they are not quite sure what to expect. By the third day of practice, a lot of that energy starts to turn into a tangible feeling that the season is here and we get to compete soon. It’s a great feeling to watch the seniors take control and start to mold the team into what they want it to be and see all of the players build relationships with each other as the actual ‘team’ starts to form.”
AJ Stuart, head coach of UHS field hockey, answered the question, “What do you feel is your greatest responsibility while coaching?”
“My greatest responsibility as a coach is to teach my players the importance of making good decisions on and off the field,” Stuart said.
Coaches are a distinct and special group of people who selflessly serve our children, helping mentor and shape their lives. Hines, Schartner and Stuart certainly understand it is about a whole lot more than the sport in which they teach our youngsters.
Hats off to all coaches who dedicate their time and energy to leading the pride of Urbana on and off the field. Best of luck to all coaches as you and your teams continue to pursue excellence in all facets of your lives!
Editor’s Note: Timothy Mellott is an active Urbana community member who founded the Southern Frederick County Youth Athletic Facilities, coaches Predators Wrestling, as well as Urbana baseball and football, and is an FCA Character Coach at Urbana High School as well as Seneca Valley High School. Mellott lives in Ijamsville with his wife, Beth Ann, and 13-year-old son, Parker.