CHARLES TOWN – It’s been more than 30 years since Washington High coach Don Bullett wrapped up his college hoops career, but he’s the talk of campus these days, explains Janet Bailey, the athletic director at Glenville State College.
[cleeng_content id="735494682" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]“There’s definitely a buzz – people are excited for him and this team,” said Bailey, who was a public school teacher in Gilmer County when the Berkeley County native starred for the Pioneers. He graduated in 1982 and was inducted in Glenville’s Athletic Hall of Fame four years ago.
No one’s surprised to see Bullett lead his boys to a 24-0 record, said Bill Lilly, who played alongside him at Glenville, where Bullett scored 1,865 points – a career tally more impressive because it predates the three-point basket.
“From Day One, he demonstrated all the qualities of a great leader,” said Lilly, now an assistant coach at Glenville. “He was just the epitome of what anyone would want in a college student athlete. He was always the hardest-working guy, both in practice and at games.
“He was like Michael Jordan for us.”
Last March, Washington made it to the state tournament in Charleston, besting Parkersburg South in the quarterfinals before losing in the next round to Martinsburg, the eventual champion – and Bullett’s alma mater.
This year, the Patriots’ string of victories includes multiple wins over Panhandle rivals Martinsburg and Hedgesville, the school that won the state title in 2012.
Tonight, the Patriots – the top seed in the Class-AAA field – face No. 8 Morgantown. On Friday, that winner will play the victor of Thursday morning’s game between George Washington (ranked fourth) and Huntington (ranked fifth). The championship is set for Saturday night.
Bullett, whose family includes his wife Traci Carter and daughter, Dawn, has credited his time at Glenville with much of his success. After earning his degree, he returned to the Panhandle, teaching health and phys ed at Martinsburg South Middle School and coaching across the street at Martinsburg High.
He’s coached both boys and girls teams, serving as the Bulldogs’ girls basketball coach for more than two decades starting in 1983, when his young charges included his sister Vicky – who would go on to star for University of Maryland, win Olympic gold and play in the WBNA after its creation in 1996.
Six years ago when Washington High opened its doors, Bullett made the leap from life as an assistant coach in Berkeley County to teaching in Jefferson County, where he first had the opportunity to work as a head boys’ coach. Now the school is three wins away from its first-ever state title.
As Lilly keeps his eye on the countdown to the state championship, he’s also thinking farther out. “There was never any question that Don would do well, but what we’ll see I think is a basketball team that’s good for years and years,” he said. “The way he works with players at skill development and brings out the best in the kids feeding into the high school, he’s going to have winning teams for a long, long time.”