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Sports isn't just a game to Bachtell, Brashear

May 07, 2010|BOB PARASILITI
  • Smithsburg High School athletics has put a purple-and-gold hold on the relationship Teresa Bachtell (left) and her daughter, Rachel Brashear, who hopes to pass on that relationship to her two-month-old daughter Emma.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

SMITHSBURG-It would not be a stretch to call Teresa Bachtell and Rachel Brashear's relationship a full-court press.

Like the basketball defense, it is all-out, intense and sets a tempo.

Over the years, they have been linked as mentor and student, coach and athlete, and teaching colleagues. And now, they have added the boss and employee dynamic since Bachtell is Smithsburg High School's athletic director, and Brashear is the volleyball coach who led the Leopards to the 2009 state championship.

But before Bachtell and Brashear became partners in various stages of athletics, they were linked for life-as mother and daughter.

"I'd love to have the same relationship with my daughter as I have with my mom," said Brashear, who has a 2-month-old daughter, Emma, with her husband, Michael. "It has been rewarding in all aspects, and not just because she is my mom. She has always been my coach in some fashion. If it wasn't in sports, it would be for homework or something through life. We are close, and that says a lot." For 28 years, Bachtell and her only daughter have bonded tightly. The maternal ties are obvious, but participation in athletics helps cement the bond. In fact, sports have been a rallying point for the entire Bachtell family.

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"I grew up in a sports-minded family, when girls playing sports wasn't a popular thing," Bachtell said. "My husband (Doug) grew up in a sports-minded family, too, so we felt our kids should be part of sports. The kids didn't hate it because we were dragging them all over. I think everything goes back to your experiences. Our oldest (Chip) chose to play sports and then all the rest wanted to get involved.

"I always told them, 'You are not going to make a mark in your life with this. This is where you are going to make your mark (pointing to her head)," Bachtell said, first pointing to her right arm and then her head. "Being an athlete prepares you for life, but if you don't have good work habits, it's not going to matter." Athletics and competition have been the Bachtells' way of life.

"My mom wouldn't just let me sit and veg," Brashear said. "She would get me doing things from an early age to be good at sports ... to know how to win and lose and how to handle the ball. There were a lot of things to learn." At a young age, Brashear nursed her competitive spirit by playing two-hand touch football in the back yard with her three older brothers-Chip, Colby and Patrick-all former Smithsburg sports stars. But her introduction to sports came earlier, when Bachtell set Rachel in a playpen while she was coaching in the Smithsburg gym.

"The team would run laps in the gym and pat her on the head while going by," Bachtell said.

The Bachtells didn't prevent any of their children from trying anything as long as they followed through for an entire season before deciding an ultimate direction. It all led to a standout career for Brashear at Smithsburg with Bachtell always there somewhere along the way. There was the usual array of youth sports (and cheerleading) and club endeavors.

The biggest step came when Brashear entered Smithsburg High School. She was a freshman, and Bachtell was a basketball coach.

"I was adamant that I didn't want to coach Rachel in high school," Bachtell said. "I saw coaches who coached their sons and it hurt their relationships, both as a family and on the team. Now I was going to be her mother, school teacher and coach, and I didn't want anyone thinking I was giving her special treatment." Bachtell turned to her brother, Jimmy Powell, for help.

"I told Jimmy if he gave me four years to coach Rachel, I'd give him four years for (his daughter, Katy). "I told Jimmy that I would be the good cop, and he would be the bad cop and we reversed it for Katy." Katy (Powell) Barnhart is now Smithsburg's girls basketball and softball coach.

Brashear took care of her side of the bargain. She played for the varsity team as a freshman and starred on the volleyball and basketball courts. As she gained experience, she got an early start on her coaching career.

"When she was a senior, she earned the respect of everyone and then she became the coach on the floor," Bachtell said.

After completing high school, Brashear attended Catawba (N.C.) College before transferring to Hagerstown Community College and Salisbury State to play volleyball until she graduated and returned to Smithsburg to become a teacher.

"In my first year of teaching, I didn't want to coach. I knew there was going to be a lot of preparation to be an elementary school teacher," Brashear said. "I knew, down the road, I wanted to do something to stay in the game. It helps to keep me 'young' and gives me another part to my life.

I'm competitive in nature."

Things progressed quicker than planned. In Brashear's first year as a teacher, circumstances created a volleyball coaching position at Smithsburg and Bachtell turned to Brashear. It only took a little mild prodding to put it all in motion.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Brashear coaches and Bachtell still attends all her games, only in her guise as athletic director who is running the event. Brashear admits she has evolved as a coach. In the process, she has rebuilt Smithsburg's program to the level she had enjoyed as a player when she helped the Leopards win a state title in 1998.

It has all conjured up some great memories for Bachtell.

"One of the greatest personal moments in my life was when Rachel won the state title," Bachtell said. "I wanted that for her. I had it before and I said I put that feeling up there with getting married and when I had my children. I got to share that with her." It was another one of those special athletic moments Teresa Bachtell and Rachel Brashear enjoyed, as colleagues, as coaches and as mother and daughter.

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