Ed Hottle was surfing the Web, just killing time this summer waiting for the start of Calvert football practice. There he saw an opportunity unusual enough to draw him away from rebuilding the Cavaliers' program.

Gallaudet, the world's only university dedicated to deaf students, was seeking a head football coach with the task of returning the program to varsity status for the first time since 1979.

When he was offered the job last week, he could not pass up the challenge.

"It's just a very, very unique opportunity helping guide them to where they want to go," Hottle said.

Needing to find a replacement quickly, Calvert has scheduled a meeting for 6 tonight at the school to "set forth a plan to get us through the season," said Cavaliers Athletic Director Sam Oliver. Calvert will be the fourth Southern Maryland school -- along with Chopticon, Great Mills and North Point -- to have a new football coach this year.

Hottle, 32, said it was difficult to leave Calvert, which gave him his first head coaching job last season. Even though the Cavaliers went 1-9, plenty of work was done to develop underclassmen and redesign the football weight room.

With a plan of returning to varsity status to play in Division III in 2007 -- though Hottle said the Bison could play a partial varsity schedule next year -- Gallaudet has launched a fundraising campaign to add lights and bleachers to its field in Northeast Washington.

Unlike at most Division III schools, Gallaudet's distinctive student body will afford Hottle the chance to recruit nationwide.

"We're not just restricted to our region," he said. "We can pluck kids of out California and Arizona."

But before doing that, Hottle needs to learn one small thing -- sign language.

So, starting Monday, his first day on the job, Hottle will get a daily two-hour tutorial.

New Heights for a Pioneer

Jan Johnson is no stranger to blazing trails in athletics. When she was named La Plata's athletic director in the early 1990s, she became the first woman to hold that position in Charles County.

So Johnson shouldn't be fazed by her newest challenge, supervising athletics for the Charles public schools. She replaces Ron Stover, who retired at the end of the school year.

Johnson had been a vice principal at Thomas Stone since 1999, following her tenure at La Plata. Her new job will involve shepherding the athletics of a rapidly growing county, which will open a high school, North Point, this fall with perhaps the most state-of-the-art athletic facilities in the state.

"Getting back into athletics and physical education is my passion," Johnson said. "I am so excited to be back in that area. . . . I know how much [Charles County] is changing. Just from the time I entered Thomas Stone to the time I left, the demographics of the county has changed dramatically."