When they asked Jason O'Roark to take over as cross-country coach at Southern High School at the beginning of September, a dozen doubts ran through his mind.

The season had already started. He'd never coached before. He didn't know a single Southern runner.

"Sure," O'Roark said. "I'll give it a try."

A month later, thanks to O'Roark's bravery, Southern has a cross-country team with about a dozen runners. It has been competitive in several county meets, including last weekend's Anne Arundel Invitational, where a handful of Southern runners participated.

Because Southern had no cross-country coach coming into this season, the school nearly didn't field a team. Most schools started practicing Aug. 15. Southern finally opened practice under O'Roark about a month later.

O'Roark came to Southern this year as a soft-spoken math teacher. That he turned into a shouting, encouraging coach, he said, is a pleasant occurrence.

"I'm really glad it happened, because it's been a lot of fun," O'Roark said. "Sometimes it's been rough. We had to do everything so late that we had to throw things together. We definitely started behind, but we're catching up now."

Short Is Ready

Terry Short has been named the new girls' basketball coach at North County, a job she spent a year training for and a decade dreaming about.

"I've wanted this for so long," Short said. "I'm overly thrilled. I'm very excited about the season and just looking forward to building the program. I'm ready for this."

Short replaces Sally Enstminger, the only coach in North County's 14-year history and the third-winningest basketball coach ever in Anne Arundel County.

Enstminger tutored Short last year, when Short served as an assistant coach.

"I've got some big shoes to fill," Short said. "She's been a great mentor to me, and she was kind of prepping me for this job. Sometimes, I might turn to her for help."