Freshman starter steals the show for Blue Devils
(Editor’s note: Throughout the local high school sports season, Culpeper Times will recognize an âAthlete of the Weekâ from one of the sports. This week we feature girls basketball. At the end of the year the Times will select a male and female athlete at both Culpeper County and Eastern View high schools and recognize them as âAthlete of the Yearâ at their respective schools.)
When people discuss this yearâs Culpeper County high schoolâs girls varsity basketball team they focus on its talented roster of young players, team toughness, a few gritty seniors and lots of energy.
Those same attributes can be applied to freshman standout Rachel Bullard.
âShe is one of four freshmen on this team. She starts and sometimes plays the sixth spot, but whenever sheâs on the court she creates steals and anticipates opponents well. Sheâs also very coachable,â said Culpeper head coach Katie Shaw. âI really see a bright future for Rachel. Sheâs a very good athlete.â
For Shaw, the Devilettes coach for the last six years, thereâs a growing optimism for the future and a joy about what is happening in the present moment heading into this weekâs Conference 27 playoffs.
âWeâre thinking about nowâ¦ and the future,â said Shaw. âIâve been pleased with our defensive effort as the season has progressed and hope we can generate more points on offensive. We can surprise a few teams I think.â
Bullard has a similar view of the Devilettes progress this season.
âThis season has been really great for me and Iâm happy to be starting as a freshman,â said Bullard. âIâve really tried to learn and play hard. Iâm always motivated by placing the team first.â
Bullard knows that her teamâs intensity and youth can either work for or against it at times.
âI try to help our team maintain composure in the heat of the game—but sometimes I have to stop my own emotions from taking over,â added Bullard.
Hard work on and off the court along with success in the classroom is very important to Bullard.
âCoach Shaw always wants us practice as hard as we play in games. She really wants us to improve each game,â Bullard said. âI have very good grades and athletics are a central part of my life.â
Bullard is also a talented soccer player by all accounts.
âI want to attend Virginia Tech in the future, itâs a family tradition,â said Bullard with a smile. âIâd really like to play soccer there.â
Last Monday night, the Devilettes boldly altered their offensive game plan and went on a 15-0 run in the third quarter to knock off visiting Kettle Run in the first round of the Conference 27 playoffs.
The Devilettes (9-10 overall) earned a 54-40 win to advance.
Bullard and teammate Kayla Sakyi both scored 13 points in the game and dominated on defense.
âMaybe teams arenât too worried about us, but weâre one of those teams with a lot of heart that can surprise you,â added Bullard. âWeâre a close-knit team. Weâre like a family.â