After the trophies had been handed out and the team photos had been taken, players and coaches from the South River boys’ lacrosse team headed toward the fence that surrounded the track at UMBC. Fans and parents greeted them with hugs, high-fives, and and slaps on the back to congratulate them on their MPSSAA boys’ 4A/3A state title. Coach Paul Noone glanced down the line and saw some of his players from last year’s team — players who had lost the state championship game by one goal. He knew they were going to be there. “They’ve been ringing our phones off the hook all day long,” said Noone. “These guys have been texting us, e-mailing us, calling us.”
“It was hard watching them win obviously because we lost by one last year,” said Joe Papetti, 19, a senior on last year’s team. But any feelings of remorse weren’t going to keep him away. He still had friends on the team — including Noone. Like a large number of former players from the Edgewater school, Papetti texts and calls his old coach frequently.
“We have a connect list that is crazy of all their phone numbers,” said Noone, whose coaching staff is just as popular. “We constantly keep in contact. They’re not just pushed aside because they’re out of the school. They can come back any time. If they need something, feel free to call us.” And they have. Usually for lunch, but “we’ve gone and towed them out of ditches” admits Noone.
“Throughout high school, he ranks up there probably as my favorite coach,” said Joe Long, also a member of last year’s runner-up team. “I’ll call every now and then to see how he’s doing and he checks up on us. He really takes care of us.” Long didn’t play lacrosse until his senior year and never would have expected to form the bond he has with Noone and the other coaches. “Right away he treated me just like I’d been there all four years,” Long said. “There’s a connection that just doesn’t go away after a year.”
This season, Long, a student at Anne Arundel Community College, attended every home game the Seahawks played. He followed them on the road to the state championship game. Not to relive any lost glory, but to support his friends.
“I don’t know that I’ll go to every game in four or five years, but I’ll still be going to the playoff games and the state games if they go,” said Long. “The relationships we have with our coaches just doesn’t really go away and I’ll still want to be there to support them.”