Park View's Larry Simms begins his 11th season as head coach of a girls basketball team. A brief glance at how things have changed for the sport.

Simms started coaching basketball at Park View High School 23 years ago, Loudoun County was far from the booming Washington suburb it is today. After surviving with just two high schools for 14 years, the county was forced to open a high school in Sterling in 1976 to accomodate the growing population in the eastern half of the county.

Simms took a job coaching the boys basketball team in 1976 and kept it until 1988, when he took over as the head girls coach. Back then, girls sports were just starting to gain recognition.

"The importance to the overall athletic picture wasn't there," Simms said. "Because of Title IX, they had to honor and respect [girls sports,] but I don't think the push was there to put the girls equal with the guys in popularity."

But much of that changed starting in the late 1980s, and Simms can remember the popularity of the 1989 AA Northwestern District championship game at Loudoun Valley's old gym.

"There were overflow crowds and there were notices sent out that the gym would close at a certain time," Simms said.

He also said that some people had to be turned away because the old gym wasn't large enough to accommodate all the fans who wanted to watch the girls championship game.

-- Brian Carney

"Because of Title IX, they had to honor and respect [girls sports,] but I don't think the push was there to put the girls equal with the guys in popularity."

-- Larry Simms

Park View's girls basketball coach

BY THE NUMBERS

1

Northwestern District team that has advanced to the Group AA final. Loudoun Valley lost to R.E. Lee of Staunton, 54-31, in 1994.

3

Years in a row Liberty has advanced to the Northwestern District tournament final. The Eagles won the tournament in 1996, but lost to Sherando in 1997 and to Loudoun County in 1998.

4

Victories Liberty Coach Ellen Chapman needs to reach 100 wins. Chapman coached Fauquier for one season and begins her sixth season with the Eagles. Her career record is 96-46 (.676).

5

Victories Loudoun County Coach Bob Pingley needs to reach 100 wins. Pingley, who is in his seventh season as the Raiders' head coach, is 95-43 (.688).

GAMES TO WATCH

Sept.14

Potomac Falls

at Broad Run, 7:30

The Mustangs are the defending Group A champions and were one of only three teams to beat Loudoun County last year. Of course, the Raiders were the only team to beat George Mason in 1998; the Mustangs finished the season with a 26-1 record.

Sept. 16

George Mason

at Loudoun County, 7:30

The Spartans have been looking forward to returning to the Northwestern District after playing three seasons in the highly competitive Group AAA Liberty District. Broad Run opens district play with a familiar opponent: Potomac Falls.

Sept. 21

Loudoun Valley

at Park View, 7:30

The last time all of the Loudoun County high schools were in the same district was 1995, when Loudoun Valley and Park View finished the regular season tied for first with 14-2 records. The Patriots beat the Vikings in a one-game playoff, 66-55, to win the regular season title, and went on to advance to the Group AA semifinals.

Oct. 14

Loudoun County

at Liberty, 7:30

A rematch of last year's Northwestern District tournament final. Loudoun County and Liberty have finished among the district's top three teams in each of the past three seasons. Both teams like to play an up-tempo, pressing style of basketball.

Oct. 16

Park View

at Potomac

Falls, 7:30

The Panthers have made great strides since their winless first season in 1997-98. But Potomac Falls has yet to beat Park View, its nearby rival, in three tries. The two teams face each other three times during the 1999 regular season; this is the third meeting, and the only one that will be played in the Panthers' home gym.