695HOOPS WHERE IT'S ALWAYS ALL ABOUT THE GIRLS
Tully Sullivan is the founder of the Lady Lions program which has produced some of the best talent in the area lately. I caught up to Coach Tully and he gave me the scoop on the program's origins and some other news as well.
695: Tell me about your coaching career...
Coach: I started coaching girl’s basketball in 1997 because my daughter didn’t have anywhere to play. I have been involved in youth sports since 1985. I taught the martial arts (10 yrs), coached baseball (12yrs) and boys basketball (5yrs). I have had the opportunity to coach some great kids. I am currently enjoying coaching the JV girl’s basketball at Carver Center Arts & Technology High School. Prior to Carver I coached at IND (03-08). I had the opportunity to coach several all-conference players Chandrea Jones (Syracuse), Amber Smith (Goucher) and Caitlin Bopp (Rider). I also had my greatest coaching moment with a thrilling double overtime win against our arch rival Mercy High in front of over 4500 fans at the Towson center in 2006.
695: Tell me about the Lady Lions program.
Coach:The Lady Lions program began as a team called the Buzzer Beaters. The team consisted of my daughter, my niece, one of my baseball players, my good friend Earl Torain’s daughter, some kids I found playing basketball on the court near my house and some classmates of my daughter. One of the classmates was Jeanell Hughes went on to be an All-Metro player at Western High as well as play D1 basketball at Hofstra . This was the name on the front of the t-shirts that were donated to us. The following year Charles Brown joined the program as we moved into Gardenville Recreation center in northeast Baltimore In 2000, I met Tammy Irvine who brought her daughter Akilah Bethel (Holy Cross, West Virginia ) to play with us. Even though Akilah was only 7, she played on the 10u team which was led by a player named Akeema Richards (Western, Delaware). Tammy began coaching our 12u team with Ebony Dennis (Western, EMU) and Johna Poole (EasternTech,Wagner). Tammy got us into the Back River Community Center in Essex in 2001. Alexis Washington joined our family of coaches becoming an assistant coach. That year we had an in-house program that produced Tasia Bristow (SFA, Delaware State) who began playing with us. After the in-house program ended we be began competing in AAU as the Lady Lions. The following year Ashle Craig (Western, Coppin) and Asia Logan (Digital Harbor, Pittsburgh) joined Akilah Bethel, Tasia Bristow, Maya Torain (Catonsville (All Baltimore County),Yale (academic)), Jakale Watson (Digital Harbor) and Charnele Washington (Western) to comprise our most successful AAU team to date
Currently, we have our Lady Lions Cubs program for grades 1 – 3 and the travel program which has teams at 10u, 11u, 12u, 13uA and 13uB. During AAU season we have teams at 14u and 15u. The primary goal of our program is to prepare the players to be able to have a successful high school basketball experience. If a player has the drive, determination and ability we will prepare them for the college level. We feel that our lives are enriched by our experiences with players. Our Coach motto is “Change the World of a Child and it will Change You”
695: Where did you grow up?
Coach: I grew up in West Baltimore. I moved to northeast Baltimore when I got married in 1978.
695: Who is your biggest influence on your coaching style and philosophy?
Coach: The biggest influence on my coaching style and philosophy can be divided into to two categories - motivational and basketball. The biggest influence on my motivational style and philosophy is my Martial arts instructor Professor Willie Johnson. He taught me how to get young people pumped up and excited about doing physically challenging activities. The biggest basketball influence on my coaching style has been my competition I have learned so much from coaches like Jerome Shelton, Wardell Selby, Jackie Boswell, Tim Burroughs, Scott Buckley, Mary Ella Marion, Matt Fisher, Tom Gizzo, Al Schell, Mike Dukes, Diane Richardson, Scott Robinson, Jim Stromburg and Deb Taylor
695: How do you handle criticism that comes with running an AAU program?
Coach: I ignore criticism of our program.
695: How do you feel about the overall direction of girls basketball in the DMV
Coach: I am excited about most things that are happening in the DMV area. I think the last 5 graduating classes have established that this is an area with serious ballers.
695: How do you set up your team's summer/spring schedules? Does each team do their own or do you set them up?
Coach: Each team sets its own schedule for games that they will play as long as it is not excessive. I believe that to reach our goal of preparing the players for HS basketball the younger teams need to practice 80% of time and play 20%.
695: What do you to stay sharp and improve as a coach?
Coach: I am a WBCA member. I attend the national coaches convention each year at the women’s final four. I have a number of video tapes, dvds, books and magazines on various basketball drills, plays and equipment.
695: What's your biggest pet peeve when coaching?
Coach: I really get upset with lack of effort, trying to catch the ball with one hand and not boxing out.
695: What do you think of the Maryland Hoop Summit on March 19th (IAAM vs. WCAC)
Coach: I like the Maryland Hoop Summit. I hope the fans come out to support game.
695: What do you do besides coach basketball for enjoyment?
Coach: Spend time with my grandson.
695: Thanks for the interview coach, anything in closing?
Coach: I am proud of the accomplishments of all of our players particularly the 12 players that were selected as the McCormick Unsung Hero for their high schools. My daughter Heather won the overall Unsung Hero award in 2003. She is the reason we are who we are.
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