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Parasiliti: HCC switches to new caliber with Bullett

June 17, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

Katie Connelly’s reasoning for picking Hagerstown Community College was very traditional.

“It’s close,” said Connelly, a Broadfording Christian Academy graduate. “I looked at other options, but this is the one that fit the best.”

For many years, proximity and opportunity were the major reasons young women of Washington County elected to play basketball at HCC.

Now, it’s a little different.

“Coach Bullett has played at all different levels and knows all about the game,” Connelly said.

Coach Bullett is Vicky Bullett, who is probably better known as Ms. Everything in women’s basketball circles. She may not be a foremother to the game, but she is one of the closest things the feminine version of hoops has to a pioneer.

For those who don’t know by now, Bullett starred at Martinsburg High School and the University of Maryland before playing on two U.S. Olympic teams, in the WNBA and professionally internationally. She has been inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and was a WNBA assistant coach.

After half a lifetime of globetrotting, Bullett has brought all her talent and experience back home and has landed at Hagerstown Community College.

And after a year as an assistant under Marlys Palmer, that isn’t news anymore.

When Palmer retired after 32 successful years of building the program, she used a bounce pass to Bullett. And while Bullett honors the program’s past, she knows there is a need for redecorating.

“Everyone comes into a job and wants to use their own style and technique,” Bullett said. “I have 11 freshmen. We have a lot of teaching to do. We have to teach them what we want to do and how to do it.

“I want to be a teacher. (It has been said) I might be overqualified for this job, but I’m not. This will be fun.”

If Bullett has her way, the HCC athletic complex will become a funhouse … on so many levels.

The first step comes with the players. With 11 new faces, there is a host of new personalities and talents to blend.

Under Palmer, HCC traditionally stayed with more in-county and close-by talent. Bullett’s net has become a little more far reaching.

Connelly is the only new Washington County product. Deidra Burch and Tyana Monette are from West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. The rest of the new class is from the Washington-Baltimore area and Virginia.

Most target HCC because it has a Bullett.

“This is a fresh start for me and for (the school) too,” Connelly said. “It’s not going to be the same (for me). I will be working hard and listening to what she says. I want to learn things and become better.”

In the midst of a sea of freshmen, the Hawks will have two anchors with local ties — sophomores Boonsboro’s Ashley Smothers and Smithsburg’s Katie Sprecher, the only players remaining from last year’s team.

“I’m excited. It is very different from last year,” Sprecher said. “I expect it to be more competitive. We can see it because (Bullett) is so competitive. We have seen that in practice. I’m excited to see where it’s going to lead us.”

For Bullett, that is the real fun part.

If the team buys into the meat of the program, everything else should be gravy.

“What I want is to bring fun to the program,” Bullett said. “That’s going to be easy. I want to get the community involved with this team. I want to make it so people will come out and see us play. The men’s team has built a fan base, I think we can build one, too.

“We have a tough schedule and we are going to be playing an uptempo game. First, we have to get out there and win some games. It’s a transition. We want to get your attention.”

Like many things, must-see anything is lost in Hagerstown. But the HCC women’s program has a good chance at becoming a blip on the radar instead of a team that flies under it.

That’s because of Bullett. No matter where the Hawks go, the new coach’s reputation will automatically draw levels of notice.

“I hope that will help us in our recruiting,” Bullett said, in her own, very modest, style. “I’m closer to (the players’) age and they can relate to me. I think it will help the school. I want to open doors for young women.”

If Vicky Bullett has her way, HCC will still offer the same options to its prospective players.

But there will be a chance to go farther and have more options as Hawks basketball will be an exciting game and a tough ticket for fans while catching the eye of media and four-year schools to help players advance.

That would redecorate HCC’s tradition … and it would be fun.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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