LA PLATA, Md. (Sept. 7, 2016)—Motivator. Kind hearted. Motherly. Supporter. These are characteristics a group of Westlake High School student athletes recently used to describe Beth Shook, a special education teacher and coach at the school. If you are a Westlake student athlete, chances are pretty high that Coach Shook not only knows who you are, but knows your academic status, too.
Shook is a longtime high school track and field coach in Charles County and well respected among the student body. She also is highly regarded among the academic and athletic community. So much so that a committee of her colleagues from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association selected her as the 2016 Maryland Boys' Coach of the Year.
Shook said she learned of her award selection through a phone call from the local newspaper. "I had no idea until a local reporter called me and told me about it," she added. According to an award letter Shook received, her selection for the honor is based on the performance of the track and field team during the 2016 season and reflects the hard work and dedication of the athletes, coaches and school administration. As Maryland's state award winner, Shook was a semifinalist for an award at the national level.
Shook has coached both the indoor and outdoor track teams at Westlake for the past 15 years and has led the groups to several local, regional and state championship events. She said in a typical school year she coaches more than 100 students and also monitors the academics for athletes, including the school's football team.
Last school year, Shook helped the boys' indoor and outdoor track teams secure championship titles at the regional level and across Maryland. Westlake senior Thomas Alcorn is a member of the track teams and said he was not surprised that Coach Shook was honored for her support of students.
"The best thing I can say about Coach Shook is how much she cares about her athletes… how much she motivates you to do your best. She pushes you to always do your best," Alcorn said. Shook is also helping Alcorn, as she does with several other student athletes, research college scholarship opportunities and schedule recruiter visits. Alcorn is hoping to secure an athletic scholarship and plans to study athletic training after he finishes high school.
Westlake junior Talore Forrest participates in track and field and is also a cheerleader. As a student athlete, Forrest is on top of her academics and strives for honor roll grades each quarter. She said Shook is well known among her classmates as a person who looks out for the best interests of students, whether it is their academic performance or their general well-being. "She has a motherly quality to her. She is constantly looking out for us. She is an awesome coach… everyone should experience her as a coach," Forrest added.
This is not the first award Shook has received in recognition of her commitment to students and athletic programs. She has received the Coach of the Year award from the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference (SMAC) 13 times throughout her coaching career and has been recognized by the Washington Post as the 2004 All-Met Girls Coach of the Year and the 2015 All-Met Boys Coach of the Year.
Shook said her recognitions are about the students. "They are the reason I received this award. I don't really do anything special," she said.
Shook began her career with Charles County Public Schools at Thomas Stone High School and also taught at Milton M. Somers Middle School. She has been teaching at Westlake since 2012. She has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree, both from California University, with a specialization in mental and physically handicapped.