Player of the Year: Alyssa Parker, Glenelg
If Glenelg’s dominant field hockey team was a well-oiled machine, junior midfielder Alyssa Parker was definitely the gas that made it run.
The three-year starter led the top-ranked Gladiators to the program’s first state title with a 2-1 victory over Century in the Class 2A championship held on Nov. 13th.
Parker, a team captain, tallied 38 goals and 38 assists as the Howard County school went unbeaten in league play (11-0) and finished with a 19-1 overall record.
For her accomplishments, Parker was named as the first recipient of the VSN Field Hockey Player of the Year Award.
“Alyssa is absolutely amazing,” said Glenelg coach Ginger Kincaid. “All of the coaches in the county would agree, pretty much, that she is the best player we’ve ever seen. The thing about her that I love most is that she gets everyone on the team involved.”
She added: “There would be games where I had to take her out because she scored too many goals and she would tell me, ‘put this person in, put that person in because they need to get more time.’ She is always worried about everybody else on the team.”
Until middle school though, Parker said her sport of choice was played on a field without sticks.
“Soccer was my favorite sport up until the seventh grade,” Parker said. “Then there was a summer at booster camps for field hockey and Ms. Kincaid said, ‘Alyssa, you know you want to play field hockey, you don’t want to play soccer.’ So that was when the switch happened.”
Parker’s transition from soccer player to field hockey star was made easier by her family. Her mother, Jean, played the sport in high school and older sister, Lauriann, was a former Howard County Player of the Year at Glenelg and is currently a sophomore at St. Mary’s College, where she plays both field hockey and lacrosse.
Alyssa’s brilliance was on display in the District V title game, which pits the Howard and Anne Arundel County champions. Glenelg, playing without second-leading scorer Kayleigh Hinkle, faced a stiff test in then-No. 1 Severna Park.
Parker scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over the Eagles and the Gladiators made a big statement entering the regional playoffs.
“[During that District V game] At one of the timeouts, coach told me, ‘you’ve really got to be selfish, Alyssa,’” she said. “I’m not used to doing things by myself, but that’s what I did and it all just kind of fell into place.”
Glenelg ran through the 2A South Region, outscoring its opponents 31-0, setting up a state semifinals matchup with perennial power Fallston. Parker scored a goal in the 2-1 victory, helping her team advance to the finals.
In the title game, she assisted on both goals, scored by Stephanie Asher and Meagan Guthrie, lifting the school to its first state crown.
“It was so intense and finally when the buzzer went off, we said, ‘yes, we did it.’ Not for us, we did it for all the teams that came before. We did it for Ms. Kincaid and we finally got that banner for Glenelg field hockey.”
Parker has her sights set on winning another state championship next fall but for now, the big challenge that she faces is making her college decision.
“My top two schools right now are [North Carolina] Chapel Hill and Maryland, so I can’t go wrong either way…I’m really torn.”
“It’s a lot to think about, especially having to commit early as a junior,” she added. “I’m making a decision now for the next four years. It’s a lot but it’s also exciting, so I can’t complain.”
Coach of the Year: Ginger Kincaid, Glenelg
Glenelg’s Ginger Kincaid had been there before, four times in fact, and there she was again on Nov. 13th, coaching her team in another state championship game.
Each time before, though, her Gladiators fell just short of that elusive, ultimate victory.
But this time was different. Led by arguably the metro area’s top player, Alyssa Parker, No. 1 Glenelg knocked off Century to claim the program’s first state championship.
“For sure, that was what we wanted all season long,” Kincaid said. “The kids wouldn’t settle for anything less.”
She added with a smile: “There was relief because we finally did it and best of all, it could not have happened with a nicer group of kids.”
Kincaid had advanced to the state playoffs 12 times, making eight trips to the semifinal round and four appearances in the finals, before her team’s magical run in 2010. She noted that this achievement wasn’t just a one-year mission; it was in the works for a long time.
“A lot of them [the team] have been on this mission since they were in middle school and they have been talking about being the first to do this. They all started with the Stampede [a field hockey program based in Howard County] when they were younger and I have been working with the Stampede since they were little kids.”
As a team, Glenelg scored 136 goals this season and proved that it could win big but also finish the close games. During the year, including the post season, the Gladiators allowed a total of just 15 goals and tallied nine shutouts.
Although the squad loses several impact seniors, it returns a collection of talent that has its sights on another state title.
Alyssa Parker Interview 12-1-10
Parker scores against Sev. Park
Second goal against Sev. Park
Goal against Howard