Parasiliti: Coaches are noble through their teaching

May 08, 2011
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

Nobility is a two-way street.

Some are born to lead. Others choose that destiny.

Some are noble because they were born into a family of aristocratic ancestors who ruled a country. If that wasn’t true, the recent Mountbatten-Windsor—Middleton wedding wouldn’t have been such an extravaganza.

Others choose to lead. Some do it as a hobby, but most do it as an extension of their profession of teaching.

They are easy to identify.

These people are called “Coach.”

Two members of this “nobility of commoners” are Vicky Bullett and Joe Dietrich, both of whom became aristocrats last Tuesday.

By virtually every measuring stick, Bullett and Dietrich couldn’t be more different. They are opposites in age, gender, race, height, experience and style. Bullett is just entering the ramp leading to the coaching highway, while Dietrich admits he is nearing the end of the road.

Still, they work for the same goal. Each wants to help young athletes learn, grow and succeed.

Bullett is joining the Hagerstown Community College women’s basketball program as an assistant coach. She has spent the last five years teaching fifth grade in her hometown of Martinsburg, W.Va., and has been coaching young players in AAU basketball.

It is a far cry from where Bullett has been. She has gone full circle athletically. She excelled in basketball at Martinsburg High before taking her star to the University of Maryland, followed by two medal-winning U.S. Olympic stints, playing professionally overseas and becoming a pioneer in the WNBA.

Yet, Bullett is now where she wants to be.

“I’m a homebody. I want to be home,” she said. “I always wanted to be a teacher. I love it. If you expose kids to things, they will grasp it.”

HCC coach Marlys Palmer calls Bullett a role model. She embodies the idea that young women can use athletics to get an education and go places in life.

“I just want to be an example. That’s just another word (for role model),” Bullett said. “If you lead by example and keep it in perspective, there is never a better way to teach.”

Meanwhile, Dietrich is a story of perseverance.

On Tuesday, he earned his 200th victory in a 22-year stint as Smithsburg’s boys lacrosse coach. Dietrich was on the ground level of a program that started as an idea, transformed into a club and then a varsity team that he built into one of the best — if not the best — in Washington County.

That’s Dietrich’s style. He’s a bulldog with a Kung-Fu grip of a bite. He has the same intensity for Smithsburg’s wrestling program, gaining more than 300 victories and a spot in Maryland’s hall of fame in 33 years of service.

His philosophy is simple: “I just try to get them fired up and intense.”

Dietrich was influenced by the late Mike McGlinchy, his wrestling coach at Salisbury State.

“He was awesome. I try to emulate him,” Dietrich said. “He tried to teach control and was basically out to get the best out of kids.”

It’s a style that aggravates kids at times, but it usually pays off in victories and life experience in the end.

“I have had a lot of kids come back and say thanks,” Dietrich said. “That’s cool.”

The world will always have a place for royals and coaches.

One indulges our fantasy world. The other has a way of grounding us in reality.

A prince’s image starts with his name. A coach’s moniker is branded with a drive to make a difference.

That places Joe Dietrich, Vicky Bullett and many others in a class of nobility all their own.

Bob Parasiliti is a Herald-Mail sports writer. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or

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