TUESDAY, MARCH 13, 2012
She drove six hours to get here
Angela Sperbeck and assistant coach Adam Norton share a laugh at a recent wlax practice.
Angela Sperbeck and assistant coach Adam Norton share a laugh at a recent wlax practice.
There’s little question that virtually any Division I athlete has a more hardy desire than most to succeed and that’s why they do what they do.

In the case of JU’s Angela Sperbeck the desire goes beyond that Division I norm.

For Sperbeck, and her dad, Jim, that meant hour upon hour in the family car and most especially, “The Storm.’’

Angela, a sophomore attacker from Callaway in southern Maryland, was a late bloomer in the women’s lacrosse arena and was determined to make up for lost time.

After spending much of her youth on horseback doing equestrian and hunter jumpers mostly on her favorite steed, Bosley, Sperbeck happened upon lacrosse in her best friend’s yard.

“She (Taelar Arrington) had a couple of sticks at her house and one day we started throwing,’’ Sperbeck recalled. She was hooked immediately, but was a bit timid of taking her new passion upward.

“I wouldn’t join a league because I was too scared,’’ she said.

When her freshman year at St. Mary’s Ryken High School came around, Sperbeck took the plunge and found her way to the lacrosse team.

“In my freshman year I seemed to have a natural ability for it,’’ she said. “I really liked it and really excelled at it and I just wanted to be my best at it.’’

It’s that last part, the “I just wanted to be my best at it’’, that led to the three-hour car rides – one way – with Jim to work with the Sky Walkers club out of Baltimore.

Jim, a project manager for the Department of Defense at Patuxent River NAS, would leave his job at 3 p.m. for the drive, practice would end at 8 or 8:30 and the pair would get home about 11 at night, three nights a week.

“The coach (at Sky Walkers) was like ‘OK, all you kids, this girl just drove three hours to play’,’’ Jim said. “At the end of the first practice they asked if she wanted to come back and she did.’’

Saturday’s were worse, or special, depending upon how one viewed the situation.

A 2:30 a.m. wakeup call for a 6 a.m. practice was the norm as was the breakfast stop at McDonald’s in Crofton. The best part was no traffic.

Some days, they would drive for naught. With no cell phone or mobile email there were times practice was cancelled and the Sperbecks wouldn’t’ know. A few times of that and Angela got a cell phone for the occasions.

The drives, and they happened year round, weren’t completely without cause. A lot of bonding went on, Angela worked her way from learner’s permit to driver’s license and there was plenty of talk of politics.

“I love my dad to death, but he can talk your ear off,’’ Angela said. “Those three hour rides we talked about a lot.’’ T

he talking stopped that one day near Baltimore when it was replaced by what both describe as the worst storm they have ever seen – or driven in. Similar to some of those debris flying, power lines down storms one might see on a Weather Channel highlight reel.

“I knew the weather was bad because we could see the clouds rolling in,’’ Jim said. “We hadn’t received an email cancelling practice so we kept going. Then we saw this big black cloud and it was like we were in a movie. I was a little scared because we couldn’t see anything. Finally, we get the email saying the thing was cancelled and I was like ‘good’ and we turned around and got out of there.’’

While Jim was a little unnerved, Angela to this day is animated when recalling The Storm.

“It was horrible,’’ she said. “We were about 20 minutes outside Baltimore and it was literally pitch black, dark and debris was flying in the road. We were like ‘oh my gosh, what do we do?’ It was a huge storm.’’

Looking back, both agree all the travel, the storms, the talk, the time, all of it, was worth it. After all, it has led to a spot on a Division I college team and, more importantly, a father who got to know his daughter, and vice versa, well. - Jim Nasella