HAGERSTOWN — Vicky Bullett’s footprint is huge in the world of women’s basketball.
The Martinsburg, W.Va. native has left imprints on the game on the high school, college, professional and international levels.
All those accolades came as a player. Now, she is going to try to get a foothold in basketball on a new level and in a different way.
Hagerstown Community College named Bullett its new head women’s basketball coach on Monday, replacing Marlys Palmer, who retired at the end of this season after 33 years.
“I’m excited,” said Bullett, 44. “I want to coach at a level where I can teach the game, and this is an opportunity that is close to home. I have had other opportunities, but they took me away from home.”
After trekking around the world for most of her ultrasuccessful adult life, Bullett retired from playing basketball in 2007 and returned to Martinsburg, where she now teaches at South Middle School in the Berkeley County Board of Education.
It is a lifestyle Bullett wanted to keep, which helped bring her to HCC.
“Coach Bullett is a valuable and instantly recognizable addition to our coaching staff,” said Robert T. Myers, HCC’s director of athletics and leisure studies. “She has a commitment to excellence and will recruit student-athletes who want to gain an excellent education and improve their physical skills. Her contacts and experience will be an asset to our entire athletic program.”
It will start quickly, as Bullett has already been recruiting players for the 2012-13 season.
The list of Bullett’s accomplishments comes in volumes.
After graduating from Martinsburg High, Bullett went on to lead the University of Maryland to three Atlantic Coast Conference titles and one Final Four. The 6-foot-4 Bullett played for the United States in the 1988 and ’92 Olympic Games, winning a gold and a bronze medal, and also played at the 1990 Goodwill Games.
She became one of the founding players in the WNBA in 1997, playing for Charlotte before joining the Washington Mystics for three years starting in 2000. She played in Italy and Brazil to close out her career.
Bullett has had a number of career honors, including having her No. 23 retired by Maryland, and was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. She spent the 2009 season as an assistant coach with the Mystics.
Bullett also had brief stints coaching AAU ball, but wanted to find a place — that was close to home — to teach women how to play the game she dominated.
“I love to teach and I already know these things because I lived them,” Bullett said. “I’ve coached some before, but it was at a level where the players already knew the game. On this level, these players are learning to play at a higher level. There is a lot of potential out there.”
Bullett was on the HCC staff this season and helped Palmer guide the Hawks to a 26-5 season, which ended on March 11 in a loss in the Region XX tournament final — one step away from the NJCAA Division II national tournament.
Palmer compiled a career record of 608-355 in her 33 years and basically built the HCC program from its inception in 1979.
Some would say Bullett’s résumé is overqualified for coaching the Hawks, but she disagrees.
“I have big feet, but I can’t fill the shoes of Coach Marlys,” Bullett said. “She has been such an asset to the program and she built it to what it is. She has so much patience ... I don’t know if I have that.
“I wouldn’t say I was overqualified because I don’t have the experience coaching that Coach Marlys has.”
Palmer had approached the idea of retiring a couple of times over the last few years, but backed off because she was worried about the future of the HCC program. Then entered Bullett.
“It is fantastic to have a person of this caliber come in and coach our team,” Palmer said. “She will be able to soar here and the program can be whatever she wants. This is a great opportunity. It gives me great peace of mind.”
For all she knows about basketball, Bullett still had some education to gain about coaching at a junior college, including all the paperwork and organizational duties it entails.
“It has been great to be able to coach with Coach Marlys. She allowed me to come in and get my feet wet,” Bullett said. “I hope she will never be gone because I know I will still need her help. She did so many things for the team that went unseen.”
Like Palmer, Bullett said she has so much to give at HCC.
“The biggest thing I have is the knowledge of the game,” Bullett said. “I studied it and lived it and I know the work ethic. I remember myself in these players’ shoes.”