For the past two years, Linda Curry often stood atop a ladder officiating Southern Maryland Athletic Conference volleyball games. She was closer to the game action than when she coached Thomas Stone from 1997 to 2001.

But Curry was too emotionally removed from competition, which is why she is back on the sidelines. She will take over Northern's program, which has won eight state championships since 1990, from Andrea Hoover, who resigned in April to become an assistant at Marietta (Ohio) College.

"I missed it," Curry said. "Teaching is fine, but there was a part missing from my work, and it was coaching. . . . Stepping away and watching it was difficult. But I just needed a break."

Curry will also teach physical education and health at Northern. She coached Thomas Stone to the 1997 Maryland 3A final, which, coincidentally, the Cougars lost to Northern. Last season, Northern went 14-3 and lost to eventual state champion Calvert in the 3A South Region final.

Curry might be in line for another job as well. With the departure of Mike Johnson to Huntingtown, Northern is seeking a softball coach.

Curry, the 2002 All-Met Softball Coach of the Year, led Thomas Stone to state titles in 2000 and 2002 and would be strong candidate. She said, however, she is not ready to apply for the job, adding that she will first see how much time volleyball occupies.

"The softball job has been mentioned," Curry said, "but for right now, I want to focus just on volleyball. . . . If I'm too overwhelmed, I won't" pursue it.

Linda Curry also might consider coaching the Patriots' softball squad. Her teams have won two state titles in that sport.