The Lady Bulldogs are pawing their way back into this year's season after losing several veteran players who graduated to the high school.
"It will be a rebuilding year," said Coach Cindy Pulley."I am looking for us to really work on building some foundational skills and learning to work together as a team. We have some brand new girls on the team, and some of them do not have much basketball experience. We're learning the basics and learning the flow on the court, how to run plays and some basic drills."
Making up this year's girl squad are Carrigan Chapman, Addison Oakley, Lydia Brown, Alanna Woodham, Shelby Clayborn, Ashley Reynolds, Destiny Vincent, Cheyenne Maxwell, Alaysia Christian, Kendra Whitehead, and Rheagan Chapman.
"This year we're having to do things a little bit differently just because of experience and skill," Pulley explained, "but it's interesting to see how the girls grow and develop just like in the classroom. I'm already starting to see a lot of changes in the girls just in a few weeks of practice."
Seventh graders Brown and Oakley have been on the team since they were in 5th grade. "They've really stepped up," Pulley said. "They've got some good shooting ability. Addison likes to drive to the hole a lot. She's very aggressive. So is Lydia. Carrigan has really stepped up to be a good leader. I think she'll be a good example to the younger ones coming up."
The Lady Bulldogs will take on teams from New Middleton, Defeated, Tuckers Crossroads, Carroll-Oakland, Providence, Short Mountain, Gordonsville, Smith County Middle, Woodbury, and Auburntown as well as playing in the Forks River Tournament in November.
While Coach Pulley encourages her players on the court, she's not out there simply to help them win a game. She wants basketball to drive home character traits for the students.
"I think basketball helps with discipline," she said." "When you're playing basketball, you're being pushed to your limits. Sometimes you're asking your body to do things that you think mentally you can't do."
"Athletes are often people that others look up to," Pulley said. "It's important that we realize school sports are a privilege and an honor. We want to be good examples."
Her regular 4th grade teaching duties keep her plenty busy, but coaching this second year for her has been a welcome respite.
"Even though it produces a little bit of stress during games and planning for it, it actually relieves stress from the day," Pulley admits. "I enjoy going over with the girls after school. It kind of makes some of your other daily problems seem not as bad."
"I played when I was younger, and sometimes you live vicariously through them, I think. It's fun. I'm obviously still learning some of the coaching aspects of it."