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Jeff Carr, BCC Athletic Director
Coach Renee Bellamy Gets Her Points Across with BCC Students and Athletes Alike
June 18, 2012, Melbourne, FL - Above all, Renee Bellamy is a teacher.
Be it academics, basketball or life lessons the fifth-year Brevard Community College athletic academic advisor and head women’s basketball coach is making an impression.
She has taken a program that was mediocre and moribund at best and turned it into one that is both competitive in the Florida College System Activities Association’s Southern Conference and respected for its quality and character.
A basketball lifer, Bellamy took up the sport at age five in her hometown of Deland, FL., went on to star at the University of South Florida and play internationally as a professional in nine countries and the United States.
She applies what she learned from some of the best coaches in the business, including NBA Hall-of-Famer and former Boston Celtics star K.C. Jones, to help her athletes make the most of their time at BCC and be prepared for competition and academics at a four-year school and beyond.
Imposing, firm, but normally soft-spoken, Bellamy has established a rapport with her players while simultaneously holding them to high standards in the classroom and in competition. That applies to the 116 varsity athletes at BCC as well.
“One of the biggest keys to that is making sure that all the student-athletes stay on task and stay focused,” she said. “What I try to tell my ladies with the women’s basketball team is that knowing that I am the academic advisor we should not have any foul ups. Just honest and up front and forthright. You’re here to be a student first and an athlete second.”
Bellamy sits down with each student-athlete to review their courses and their responsibilities to ensure they both meet BCC standards and are equipped to move on.
Her academic approach is working. And her athletic approach is as well.
Although BCC has qualified for the conference tournament the past three seasons it has yet to achieve Bellamy’s goal of reaching the state tournament. But given that BCC did not win a game in Bellamy’s first season as coach, progress is measured incrementally.
To that end, Bellamy’s approach stresses proficiency and production in practice with the end goal of the most prolific players seeing the most time on the court. She makes the practices harder than the games, has no guaranteed starters and is not shy about sitting her better players in lieu of bench and role players in order to make a point.
And the players and the team are getting it.
“To hear the coaches around me in my Southern Conference eventually start to say ‘Wow, Brevard Has made a change. You guys are very competitive,’” she said.
“Susan Summons . . . she’s been a great mentor to me down there at Miami-Dade, and she came to me and said ‘It used to be that we knew that Brevard was going to be a sure win. And now, Renee, you’ve done a good job with bringing good players and good students and you all are very, very competitive.’ ”
It all comes back to her ability to make her message heard.
“I do a lot of teaching,” she said. “Even if we have some talented players, I’m a firm believer that talented players are going to be talented players and role players can only do their role. But, everybody can work hard and everybody can play defense.”
And show some fire. “Getting them to be more passionate, because I’m a very passionate person about everything that I do,” Bellamy said. “They hear my voice. If I’m not saying something they know something’s wrong. If I’m showing a lot of passion and energy, they’re going to show a lot of passion and energy.”
And passion and energy in the classroom and on the court can only pay dividends.
Jami Chappell, who played for Bellamy at BCC and is now at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne appreciates the opportunity Bellamy provided.
“Playing for Renee was an awesome learning experience that greatly helped me transition and challenge my basketball skills for the next level,” she said. “Not only was Renee my coach, but she was also a great mentor and role model. She was the kind of coach who put everyone else's needs first and tried her hardest to work things out for the best interest of others.
“Renee constantly challenged me academically. She held mandatory study halls which sometimes forced me to do my work when I felt lazy, but helped me manage my time more efficiently and procrastinate less. This greatly helped me in my transition to Florida Tech because the classes here demand more time management and focus.”