Jen Shoup, the 2001 All-Extra field hockey coach of the year, resigned as Northern's head coach last Thursday, citing her desire to pursue a master's degree in education.
Northern administrators have not named a successor, but Shoup said she will consider helping with tryouts and early season practices next year to ease the coaching transition.
Northern finished the season at 9-0-1 in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference and 11-2-1 overall, with its second loss coming to Great Mills in the 3A South Region final. Ten seniors will graduate from this year's team, leaving at least eight starting positions to be filled next year.
"When I get my master's, I want to be successful, I want to get straight A's," Shoup said. "I will probably be there to help out a little in the beginning, but I don't want to cheat my team out of a coach by being too busy. I want to finish my graduate work and not have to concentrate on something else. Coaching is just too time-consuming."
Shoup will pursue a master's in education with an emphasis in leadership, studying full time beginning in January at McDaniel College's Westminster campus.
"I think that if she hadn't worked me so hard, I wouldn't be the player I am," said Patriots senior co-captain Amy Taylor, who will play on partial scholarship next year with Stonybrook (N.Y.) College. "She was a coach on the field and she worked you hard, but off the field she is a friend."
In Shoup's four years as head coach, the Patriots improved from a losing record in 1999 to advance to the state semifinals last year with a 15-2-1 overall record. Northern has just one regular-season loss over the past two years.
Shoup succeeded previous head coach Mary Finley late in the 1998 season after spending three seasons as an assistant coach.
"She was just a leader builder, and she was extremely dedicated," said senior co-captain Jayme Dinsmore, who joined Northern's varsity team as a freshman. "She was definitely a role model."
"She took us all the way from being a rebuilding team to a state semifinalist team, which is incredible," Dinsmore said. "She taught me how to be a leader, because being young and competing with upperclassmen for starting positions can be intimidating. But she pushed me to play my hardest and not care what others thought."