Through the years: Lady Crabbers success stories part 2

By Richard Kellam
Posted 4/9/24

Maryland shutdown State tournaments for high school sports during World War II and regular season play was limited. However, Crisfield High School teams were back in full swing in 1947 governed by a …

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Through the years: Lady Crabbers success stories part 2


Maryland shutdown State tournaments for high school sports during World War II and regular season play was limited. However, Crisfield High School teams were back in full swing in 1947 governed by a new organization, the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association (MPSSAA).

Girls’ sports at CHS consisted of field ball in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball in the spring. Field ball is a curious, antiqued sport based on the principles of soccer with one major exception, you can’t use your feet. Instead, you use your hands to pass the ball downfield, the objective is to toss the ball into a soccer size goal.

The game, similar to team handball, is played today only by a small contingent of diehard enthusiasts scattered across the globe.

CHS dropped the sport in 1953, replacing it with field hockey.

Maryland had no State playoffs for girls until the early 1970s. They competed for county championships and the Lady Crabbers more than held their own with Somerset County titles in all sports, compiling winning records in the 1940s and ’50s.

The girls’ programs struggled in the 1960s then hit rock bottom in the ’70s when the Bayside Conference was initiated. No feeder programs for girls at the time, just how did a young girl pick up the basics?

Katelynn Coleman is a freshman who will be in the Class of 2027 and plays field hockey and softball. She got her start in middle school and summer leagues sponsored by Recreation & Parks.

“I was a little scared at first, it’s a faster pace in high school, difficult at times, but I pushed myself hard enough to keep up,” said Coleman, as she made the jump to the scholastic level. It is a huge step up from academy and rec leagues to high school. So many girls move on to the varsity level without an adequate fundamental background.

It's very difficult for coaches to prepare their athletes for high school play and still have to teach the basics.

“The key is starting young. We need more programs starting at elementary age,” said Hannah Goldsborough Sterling, who was 3-sport athlete at Holly Grove Christian School where she graduated from in 2012 and currently teaching physical education at Crisfield High.

Sterling, who played field hockey at Liberty University, a Division I program, knows full well what it takes to excel in organized sports. She coached the Lady Crabbers field hockey squad to a Regional title in 2019.                                                                              

“It doesn’t matter if you make a team, you’ve got to keep playing, stick with it, not just during the season. Leagues in the off season, camps,” said CHS soccer coach Harold Frock Jr.

“It’s the formula for success at the scholastic level, you’ve got to play year-round.”

Championship teams have been scarce for girls at Crisfield but there have been many outstanding female athletes. The following is a sampling of some of the Lady Crabbers’ most successful.

Gina Tyler was Crisfield’s first player to reach 1000 career points for either boys or girls basketball. A 4-year player she averaged 21.6 points per game her junior year, 29.1 points per game plus 18 rebounds per contest in her senior year and was named to the South Division First team honors both seasons.

Tyler reached the 1000 point plateau midway through the 1986 campaign with a 40-point effort against Washington, just 4 tallies shy of her top single game mark of 44.

Tyler played softball at CHS but her 6-foot frame was better suited for the basketball court. She was dominant inside but could shoot from the perimeter and was an adept ball handler, a complete player.

Tyler’s success story was very nearly cut short, her quest for 1000 points, even her senior year was in jeopardy. Only 3 girls turned out for tryouts, including Tyler. That same year CHS was forced to cancel softball for lack of players. Crisfield’s head coach, Marge Bush, was determined that Tyler would not be denied her final season so she recruited 2 more girls and the Lady Crabbers endured the entire season with a 5-player roster.

How did Gina Tyler learn the game? Her dad put up a court in their back year, she hardly missed a day. “When I was 9 or 10 my dad and I would shoot every day when he got off work,” said Tyler.

Crisfield had a youth league for girls age 9-12 back then, but it no longer exists. “The girls’ game is different today, more run and gun, when I played we ran plays,” Tyler added. “I just wish we had the 3-pointer, I could really have lit it up.”

Tashanna Brown earned first team All South honors her senior year at CHS, capping off her 4-year career with an invitation to play in the Bayside Girls Senior All Star Game.

Brown, like Tyler before her, was relegated to playing on teams with losing records, her performance was of championship caliber, however. She recorded five 30-point games with a career high of 38, averaging over 20 points per game her senior season.

Brown led the South All Stars to a 74-51 triumph over the North division with a game high 16 points and 4 blocks. A dominant effort for Brown who proved beyond any doubt that she was capable of playing with the best in the league. A reporter covering the contest replied, “as for Brown well, she did just about whatever she pleased.”

Brown and Tyler are sure-fire picks to be named to the All Time Lady Crabbers basketball team, other selections would include Ashley Douglas, Nicole Brown and Arielle Johnston. This group proposed by years of observation from the 1950s to the present along with consultation with local enthusiasts.

More of the story next week.

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