Lorrie Short blew her whistle before letting it drop from her mouth and dangle on her lanyard.
“Switch!” she yelled.
Her players rotated from one drill to another, positioning themselves for another 60 to 90 seconds of passing the ball to teammates.
It was just before 10 a.m. They’d been practicing in the summer heat since 8:30.
Short is the new head coach for Meade High School’s field hockey team. She helped the team as a volunteer coach last season, and served as the school’s athletic booster president for six years.
Kevin Rutledge, Meade High’s athletic director, interviewed Short for the head coach position in early summer. The season officially began with tryouts on Aug. 11 and the team’s first practice the following Monday.
The team’s first game was scheduled for Tuesday at Hammond High School in Columbia, but the matchup was canceled due to a code orange issued by the Anne Arundel County Public Schools Office of Athletics.
A code orange is put in effect when the heat index is between 100 to 104 degrees. As a result, the Mustangs practiced indoors this week.
The Mustangs have nine returning players and nine new players for the 2018 season.
“I’m looking at the returners for their experience [to help] the new players, while incorporating drills that are going to give [the returners] goals to reach,” Short said.
When it comes to practice, the new coach balances intense drills and workouts with the fun-loving aspect of high school sports.
Seniors Sarah Negrette (midfielder) and Meron Henok (defensive player) both acknowledged Short’s leadership, saying she is “more flexible” than other coaches.
“She’s kind of like the mom of our team,” Negrette said. “She’s always looking out for us, reminding us to hydrate, bring towels. She’s very caring.”
While she loves bonding with her players, Short demands hard work from her team, both on and off the field.
“I try to make them train on their own, even after practice,” Short said. “They were supposed to be conditioning on their own over the summer.
“I wanted to see where they would be when they tried out on August 11. I could definitely see who did things and who didn’t.”
Short said she wanted her players to be running and doing stick drills every day during the summer. That kind of conditioning was common throughout August, as she incorporated wind sprints, timed runs and many stick drills during tryouts and practices.
Prior to the season’s first game, Short acknowledged the challenges of coaching a high school team on a military installation without a local recreational league.
“[Meade High] doesn’t get kids that play club,” Short said. “Most of our teams are kids that have never played before. … Very few kids come in with experience … because we don’t have the [club] teams around us where kids can reach out and get involved with them.
“But being on a military base, I think that benefits us sometimes, because you never know when you might get that experienced player.”
Meade field hockey finished with a losing record in each of its last three seasons.
Last year, Short played a significant role in the construction of the school’s new athletic stadium.
“Because of the whole building process going on and having my name on all the paper work, I stayed on the boosters … just to make sure there weren’t any lapses,” Short said.
Rutledge commended Short on her work as booster president.
“Lorrie … was instrumental in the stadium being completely renovated,” Rutledge said.
On Sunday, Short took her team to the University of Maryland, College Park to watch the Terrapins field hockey team play Duke. She is also planning community service projects for her players during the season.
“Maryland is really good at field hockey, so seeing them kind of inspires the younger players,” Negrette said. “We’re gonna be with each other for three months, so we have to bond and help each other because we can always learn from each other.”
After a couple of weeks of scrimmages and practices, Short expressed her thoughts on the then-upcoming season to James Peters of The Capital.
“I’m excited for the season and look forward to seeing the girls play,” Short wrote in an email to Peters.
As of 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 5, the Mustangs’ first game is scheduled for today against Glen Burnie at 4 p.m. at Meade High School.