West Brunswick senior Morgan Bellamy signed her letter of intent to attend Meredith College in Raleigh and play basketball for the Avenging Angels with her parents Darrilyn and Levi Bellamy by her side May 1.
Several teammates, coaches, administrators, family and friends attended the event in the Trojans new fieldhouse.
“We’re blessed to have a wonderful daughter. She makes us proud,” Levi Bellamy said.
“I’m very proud of Morgan and each one of you showing up and showing your support. It truly takes a village, and I appreciate everybody,” Darrilyn Bellamy said.
Bellamy said she didn’t start playing basketball until fourth or fifth grade, when she was inspired by a family member.
“After my brother (James Prince) passed. It led me to basketball,” Bellamy said.
“All my mind was on was cheerleading. He passed and then I found a connection that made me honor him.”
She played rec ball, on her middle school team and then came to West Brunswick High School and played varsity all four years. She also played on two AAU teams.
Over the years that built on her love of the game.
“What I love most about the game is developing those close relationships with your teammates. I love just being able to assist them. And it’s deeper than just playing with them, but becoming closer and developing that sisterhood with them,” Bellamy said.
Bellamy said she wasn’t thinking she would be able to go and play in college until playing in a skills camp and then receiving some encouragement from her coaches.
“College was not in my mind at all until junior year. I didn’t think I was good enough but then Coach Kevin and Coach Christopher Thompson, they let me know, ‘You have potential.’ Because my mental health was terrible, I didn’t think I was good enough. And they let me know, ‘You’re a better player than what you think. just believe in yourself.”
Then she began receiving interest from colleges, in and outside of North Carolina.
“One from New York. I don’t remember the school but I knew I wasn’t going up there. And one from, I’m going to say Louisiana, which is outrageous,” Bellamy said.
“It was junior year going into senior year that I was contacted by Meredith. They were not my only option, I had multiple (options) but what stood out about Meredith was they were big on mental health and their teaching program is one of the top in North Carolina. and I want to stay in North Carolina so it was a perfect fit for me.”
Kevin Holland, Bellamy’s varsity basketball coach for her junior and senior years, spoke to the attendees about the qualities that put her in position to play basketball at the college level while pursuing a teaching career.
“The first thing for me, always as a teacher, is the academic part of it. this just doesn’t happen without the academic part of it. and I can see (Morgan’s) grades and they’re excellent. I’ve talked to her teachers and she’s always excellent. people come up to me all the time and tell me how excellent she is. I’m truly happy for her, with this opportunity to go to Meredith and on top of that, with a teaching fellows scholarship,” Holland said.
Bellamy said she has received a North Carolina teaching fellowship and a Meredith teaching fellowship.
“I got academic scholarships because Meredith is Division 3 they don’t give athletic scholarships,” she added.
“As a player, obviously you don’t get an opportunity to play at the next level without having a lot of skill and ability. you can see the work that went into it for her. As a player, and I’ve been doing this for 26 years now and I’ve coached a lot of player that have gone on (to college), and she is legitimately in the top three or four players I’ve ever seen in terms of her vision on the court. That’s legitimate, one of the three or four best players I’ve ever had in terms of being able to see the floor and make the pass.
“In terms of the program itself, twenty-three wins the last two years, back-to-back double-digit win seasons. The first time that’s happened in six or seven years here. And more importantly than that, back-to-back playoffs. In trying to establish the program that we want to have here, making the playoffs is a key element. Getting to the playoffs for the first time in five or six years, you were a big part of that.”
Holland added that Bellamy was rewarded for her play this year by being named Mideastern Conference second-team all-conference.
“That’s pretty impressive. And to me it’s even more impressive off the court. How much you’ve helped me. Coming in here, I still feel new most of the time. So second year here, leading and organizing, it’s not a surprise at all to me that you will be a teacher after seeing you the first year doing Future Trojans (basketball) camp. you were an absolute natural. I didn’t really know you wanted to be a teacher but I could see it right away,” Holland said.
“I am happy for you. I’m super proud of you and I know that you’re going to do well when you get to Meredith.”
Bellamy, who will start her freshman year in August, said she has already visited the Raleigh campus and even stayed on campus with some of her future teammates.
She said she is interested in studying math, science or social studies but she is undecided.
“And maybe even physical education. I do plan to major in one and minor in the other,” she said.
What she has decided is she wants to teach, and coach, at West Brunswick.
“I want to come back to West. honestly since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. And then after seeing my mom be a teacher, I just knew for sure,” Bellamy said.
And she plans to come back and take Holland’s head coaching job.
“Hopefully he’ll stay and then retire once I get here,” Bellamy said.
Brian Slattery is the sports editor for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 910-239-7433 or email@example.com.
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