Falcons or Warriors: Decisions, Decisions

by Ryan Coulter ‘12
For decades, Our Lady of Good Counsel has inarguably been a dominating presence in local high school sports. Just the name of the school team sparks fear among players on the opposing teams.

But Good Counsel found some competition when it relocated to Olney. Sherwood, though a public school, has proven itself as of its own lofty athletic reputation with recent state championships in football, soccer, cross country, baseball, and basketball. Although Sherwood’s football games might not be telecasted on ESPN as was the case for a Good Counsel game earlier this season, student athletes trust Sherwood to have excellent athletic programs. However, Good Counsel’s ability to pick off athletes from the area’s middle schools may begin to be a factor in the near future. Since Good Counsel’s relocation from Wheaton to Olney in 2007, a number of athletes in Sherwood’s feeder schools have decided to attend Good Counsel rather than Sherwood.

Collin McGowan, a former Farquhar student, was asked to attend Good Counsel and accepted. Now a junior, McGowan has provided Good Counsel with excellent skills and motivation on the baseball diamond. Both a right-handed pitcher and strong second-basemen, McGowan played 18 games in the 2010 season for Good Counsel’s team that finished with an outstanding 23-6 record. As McGowan prepares for his junior season, colleges begin their recruiting and his status as a Good Counsel Falcon will give him the edge over similar athletes that attend public school.

The decision to attend Good Counsel, however, was a difficult one for McGowan.

“A lot of it was my friends,” said McGowan. “The group of kids that grew up with my whole life, ever since elementary school, was going to Sherwood. It was weird at first at Good Counsel, but I definitely got used to it.”

Olney has always been known as a hot spot for youth athletics. With programs such as OBGC and Rising Star, children are exposed to sports very early. OBGC’s Pirates baseball, in particular, has given children the opportunity to compete with organizations at higher levels across the country.

With its recruiting ability, Good Counsel has a lot to offer strong athletes, including more exposure to college recruiters which in turn may translate to scholarships. Being on a Good Counsel varsity squad speaks wonders to interested college scouts. The team is noted for their strong athletic ability, as well as a high level of dedication that their coaches demand.

Math teacher Bill Goodman has coached varsity baseball at Sherwood for 13 years. In addition, he is an assistant coach of Good Counsel’s varsity football team.

He feels that both schools will succeed athletically despite the competition over new athletes.

“We’ll work with who we get. If someone chooses to go and pay $16,000 for private school then so be it,” said Goodman. “And I’ll work with what I get. If I don’t get one guy, I’ll get another. That’s how it’ll always be.”

Although athletes are tempted by Good Counsel recruiters, there are many strong athletes at Sherwood who didn’t choose the private school option, even when offered the opportunity. Both sophomore Hope Gouterman, starting mid-fielder on the girls’ varsity soccer team, and junior Connor Welch, starting goalie of the boys’ varsity lacrosse team, made the decision to attend Sherwood over Good Counsel.

Gouterman already has proven herself as a top contributor on Sherwood’s varsity girls’ soccer squad. She was scouted in middle school and asked to consider Good Counsel but turned down the offer.

“The fact that I grew up playing a competitive sport and [am] now a part of the varsity soccer team since freshman year affected my decision to go to Sherwood because many of my friends were on par with my skills and made varsity,” said Gouterman.

Welch has proven to be a magnificent goalie, with 127 saves and a higher than 60 percent save percentage in the 2010 season. He started varsity as a freshman and he has been a prized possession of the Sherwood lacrosse program ever since.

“Sherwood’s reputation in MoCo is tremendous … the lacrosse team before I got there were divisional champs, and even regional champs back when my brother was here,” Welch said about his decision to attend Sherwood. “I knew the players Sherwood had were really talented, and I just wanted to contribute to the success.”

The final decision for the athletes of tomorrow might come down to the quality of education. “I did not see a difference in the education I would get at Good Counsel compared to the one I would get at Sherwood, as they are both exceptional schools in that field,” said Welch.