Bass returns to her home away from home

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Debbie Williamson Bass embraced her opportunity to coach tennis at Hunt High, but the opportunity to return to her “home away from home” appealed even more.

Thus, after two seasons on the Hunt athletic scene, Bass has returned to the Hampstead community in Pender County and has accepted a position as a seventh-grade math teacher at Topsail Middle School.

The 1990 Hunt graduate, who played four years for the Lady Warriors, is not ruling out the possibility of again coaching but, for the present, she may limit her availability to helping with the club tennis team.

“I really enjoyed my time coaching boys and girls tennis at Hunt,” Bass commented in a telephone interview from the beach Monday afternoon. “I was honored I was able to do it at Hunt. But Topsail has always been my home away from home, and everything just fell into place.”

Bass, a 1994 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, began her teaching career in 2008 and taught at Topsail Middle in 2014.

At Hunt, she coached the boys team in 2017 and 2018 and  the girls team in 2017.

Bass informed her teams of her decision to depart Hunt before submitting her resignation.

“Coaching was everything I hoped it would be,” Bass noted. “It was not all about the skill of the team. It was life lessons, looking someone in the eye, sportsmanship and overall fitness. I wanted it to be about kids learning to play tennis — and it was.

“Coaching the boys and girls were two different experiences, but they were wonderful experiences. The best part of my day was when I stepped on the courts for practice at 2:45 in the afternoon.”

Hunt athletic director Jon Smith pointed out that Bass, following the tragic death of her daughter, stepped up to fill the Warriors’ vacant tennis coaching position.

“She’s been an inspiration to our whole school,” Smith praised. “She showed the patience to do something she loves.

“Losing her is a big blow to our school and athletic program. I hate to see her leave, but she has to do what makes her happy.”

When not on the beach these days, Bass is fishing, rowing or hiking.

“It’s summertime -- it’s time to play,” she said with a laugh. “It’s time for a new chapter in my life.”

However, Bass assures she will be tracking Hunt girls and boys tennis fortunes.

“I will be keeping up with them,” she promised, “And I’ll be back in Wilson for some of the matches.  The future is bright, for sure, and I cannot wait to hear about wonderful things for Hunt tennis. There are a lot of freshman and sophomores hungry and waiting with a lot of motivation.”