It was a big game for Old Mill's field hockey team. The Patriots had qualified for the 2013 Anne Arundel County championship game. But Old Mill ended up losing on that cold night.
Despite the result, Old Mill assistant coach Diane Howell was still excited because there had been a distinctive voice emanating from the stands, yelling encouragement to her players throughout the game. Her longtime mentor, Clint Gosnell, had come to the game to cheer and support her.
Gosnell, a former Arundel High School coach and physical education teacher, died Sept. 5 from complications related to lung disease. He was 67 years old.
Gosnell was born in Pasadena, Md., and graduated from Glen Burnie High School. He played lacrosse at Anne Arundel Community College and then Towson University, where he graduated with a degree in physical education in 1971.
He will be most remembered as the Arundel boys' head lacrosse coach. During his 31-year coaching tenure at Arundel, he led the Wildcats to 296 wins and the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association 4A/3A state championship in 1995. His teams also won multiple state and regional championships before the MPSSAA began to host an official state championship.
Longtime Arundel head football coach Chuck Markiewicz was an assistant for Gosnell from 1979-1982.
"He took kids nobody else particularly wanted and made them into good lacrosse players," Markiewicz said. "Along the way, they understood that what he wanted from them was more than being a good lacrosse player. Growing up and getting along were important to him, and I think this was his best attribute. He cared about his players as people, and they knew it."
Gosnell's influence can be seen throughout Anne Arundel County -- many of his former players and assistants work in the area as coaches or athletic directors. One such person is Arundel athletic director Kevin Necessary.
Gosnell first met Necessary at the University of Maryland's lacrosse camp. The two were helping with the Terps' camp when Gosnell asked Necessary, who was a student teacher at the time, if he wanted to come teach at Arundel and help coach lacrosse. Necessary jumped at the chance, and the two would go on to coach together for years.
"Most coaches are preachers and tellers," Necessary said. "Clint would take time to listen to his players and assistant coaches to get a feel for what they needed more than just him telling them what they needed. He taught me that it was important for your players to trust you. Coming out of college, you don't think about stuff like that, and I took that throughout my coaching career."
Another person Gosnell positively impacted was Howell, who played field hockey for Gosnell at Arundel and now coaches at Old Mill.
"Clint was all around a great person," Howell said. "He'd give you the shirt off of his back, even if it were his last. We need more people in this world like Clint for young kids to look up to. We need coaches to understand that winning isn't everything. Character is built by learning how to handle losing, difficulty and hard work. Nothing is given, especially a win. You have to work hard for it."
Howell began coaching field hockey as an assistant for Gosnell and then as Arundel's junior varsity head coach. After coaching for four years, Howell decided to step away for a year after having her first child. Gosnell would quit the same year, and despite not coaching together anymore, the two still kept in touch.
This was not unique to just Howell. During the past few years, Gosnell and his partner, Terry Moir, would regularly invite former players to their house. While in his home, Gosnell would show them different memorabilia he had kept from their time spent as his players, ranging from newspaper clippings, pictures, scorebooks and game balls.
To Gosnell, it didn't matter if the person was the star of the team or the last person to make the roster -- he took the time to get to know each person who played for him.
"Even when he was in the hospital days before his passing, Terry was telling him about all of the get well messages she was receiving for him," Howell said. "She told me she didn't recognize a lot of the names, but we both agreed that if Clint were able to, he would have a story or a memory for every person. That, in itself, is special -- that he held so many people so dear to him that he could remember them so intricately."
Gosnell isn't only fondly remembered by those who played and coached with him, but also by those who competed against him. Clay White has coached lacrosse in Anne Arundel County for almost 40 years at both Southern and Broadneck, and his teams competed against Gosnell's on countless occasions. For White, there was nobody better to compete against than Gosnell.
"We had great battles together that were never personal," White said. "It was always professional, and it was about the kids getting better and having fun. Clint was very passionate, and he was a gentleman. When the game was over, it was over. He was always respectful in victory or defeat. You could tell he made his kids love and be passionate about lacrosse. He will always be Arundel lacrosse."
From a tactical perspective, White highlighted discipline as a trademark characteristic of a Gosnell-coached team. Gosnell's teams would look to their coach for instruction and played the game in a respectful manner. They were well-conditioned, with White saying that if their opponents weren't in good shape, they would get run off the field.
White also said it was clear Gosnell coached for the right reasons. He was never one to coach for self-promotion, preferring to highlight his players.
When he retired, Gosnell continued to live life fully. Gosnell, Moir and their dog, Frankie, moved to a townhome in the Camden Crossing neighborhood of Baltimore City. They became active in the community immediately, and Gosnell became a recognized figure, with many of the neighborhood's residents jokingly calling him "The Mayor." Gosnell and Moir also loved to travel, visiting the United Kingdom, Bermuda and, most recently, Key West, Fla.
Gosnell died with Moir, his brother, Chris, his sister-in-law, Phyllis, and Frankie in the room. While this has been a tough time for Moir, she said it gives her comfort knowing that as Gosnell died, he was surrounded by loved ones.
As for what Gosnell's legacy will be, Moir knows he will be remembered as more than just a coach.
"What we all heard, even more profoundly at his memorial service, was the role model that he was for his players and students," Moir said. "He taught them a work ethic and competitive spirit, but he also taught them love for the beauty in nature and music, respect for tradition, kindness toward others and concern for their welfare. So many people saw him as a positive role model, a father figure and an exemplar of what a man should be in today's world."