As she prepares for her first season as head coach of the women’s basketball program at Hagerstown Community College, two-time Olympian Vicky Bullett has carved out some time to watch the 2012 Summer Olympics.
“Even as an athlete who played in the Olympics and had the opportunity to participate, it’s always been a great atmosphere to watch,” she said. “You want to see all these athletes challenge themselves to perform.”
Bullett, who grew up in Martinsburg, W.Va., helped the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team win the gold medal in 1988 and then win bronze in 1992.
Bullett said she has not forgotten what it felt like to compete in the Olympics.
“I get emotional watching the Olympic Games because I reflect upon how I felt there,” she said. “It’s the adrenaline that’s been released. You win that gold medal and reflect” on the work it took to get there, along with the adversity and the injuries endured. Then, “it’s all finished.”
She said words can’t describe how she felt when she competed in the Olympics.
“You’re able to enjoy the moment and share your story,” she said. “It’s a feeling that you can’t take away.”
As the years have passed, Bullett has not stopped taking an interest in the Olympics, and watches not only basketball, but other events such as gymnastics and track and field.
She talked about how women’s basketball has changed in the years since when she played in the Olympics.
“The speed has changed and you have the versatility of players,” she said.
When Bullett contributed to the U.S. women taking gold in 1988, she was in the midst of her college career at the University of Maryland. In 1989, she helped Maryland’s women’s team reach the NCAA Final Four and was named the 1989 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year. She averaged nearly 17 points a game at Maryland.
Bullett was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
She worked as an assistant with the Mystics in 2009, and spent the 2011-12 basketball season as an assistant coach at HCC.
Now in her first season as the school’s head coach, Bullet said her experience as a gold medalist can be beneficial, for instance, as a recruiting tool.
“Hopefully, I’m going to use this until I retire,” she said. “Hopefully ... I’ll bring them some video tape out and show them that coach really had some skill back in the day.”
She said she does not want it to be the main reason people commit to HCC.
“These young people are coming here for two years, and hopefully, what I can instill in them as an athlete could give them opportunities,” she said. “I want them to come here because HCC is a great institution and what I could offer them as a student-athlete could be beneficial.”
Katie Connolly, 18, of Boonsboro, is a freshman guard who said Bullett came to see her play in high school. She said Bullett was a major reason for her commitment to HCC, and the fact that she played in the Olympics did not hurt.
“She’s played at every level, and she knows a lot more than a lot of coaches out there about basketball,” she said. “When I play for her, I know that I’ll be able to be a better player, and after I play here, I probably could go to another school and play another two years.”
Sophomore Ashley Smothers of Knoxville, Md., played for Bullett while she was an HCC assistant in 2011-12, and now will play for Bullett in the upcoming season.
“(Bullett) is very enthusiastic and makes you want to work hard,” said Smothers, 19. “She’s been through a lot and knows a lot.”
Bullett said she still is passionate about basketball. She also teaches a personal health class at HCC.
Despite all of her accomplishments, she said she isn’t about to rest on past accomplishments.
“I’ve always set goals and I’ve got to continue to set goals,” she said. “You want to reach the highest, and I think I have as an athlete, but now, I’m trying to do it as a coach and as an instructor.”