All Carol Tully wanted from sports was the chance to compete, enjoy herself and make lasting friendships.

But ask her coaches about her and the compliments flow, from her athletic ability to her team-first attitude, her engaging personality and ever-present smile.

“An athlete like her only comes around a couple of times in one’s life,” softball coach Jimmy Davis said.

“Any coach or teacher who works with her will tell you what a wonderful person she is,” volleyball coach Judy Scarbrough said. “There isn’t an arrogant bone in her body.”

“Simply outstanding,” basketball coach Henry Falk said. “If you catch her in a game, she’s got her game face on, but otherwise, she’s always got that smile on.”

Tully has twice been named an All-Far East volleyball player and All-Kanto Plain and Japan League softball player, and played for Kinnick’s Far East Class AA basketball championship team as a freshman three seasons ago.

Tully insists she’s nothing special.

“Um … I guess if that’s how they see me,” is about all she’ll allow.

Tully doesn’t trash-talk opponents or call attention to herself after a big play.

“Sometimes I might have a little temper, but I never go overboard with it,” she said. “If it’s a great play, that’s great, but the game’s not done.”

That attitude, she says, is something that evolved over time. “I don’t think anybody told me to do that or showed me. It was something that just happened,” Tully said.

“I see myself as a team player [who] loves to play sports and loves to have others work together and have fun, just enjoy the game,” said Tully, who’s lived in the Yokosuka Naval Base community all her life.

Tully stands, at least in Red Devil country, as the antithesis of the “me generation.”

“It’s not just about how I do on the court, but how I deal with the team and how the team comes together and how the team wins the game, not just one person,” she said.

Statistics through nine games, all Red Devils victories, support the idea she’s a “team-first” player. The power forward has averaged 13.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 5.4 steals per game.

“Carol’s athletic ability is one that I haven’t seen in a long time,” said Falk, who’s coached Tully since middle school and has been at Kinnick since the late-1980s.

The daughter of Brian Tully, a civilian and retired sailor at Yokosuka, started out with Morale, Welfare and Recreation basketball in the fifth grade because “me and my friends wanted to try it out.”

More than the competition, she says the friendships made over the years, from MWR ball through middle school into her high school years, makes it all the more special.

“Friendship is very important to me. Ever since I started playing sports, I’ve made a lot of friends,” Tully said.

She’s made them during league play, her seven visits to Far East tournaments, even during a tour of Australia in summer 2002, when Tully played alongside players from international and missionary schools and three other DODDS players.

Her mentors say coaching her has been a great opportunity for them as well.

“I wish she played on my team all year,” said Hong Kong International School girls basketball coach Adrian Price, who headed up the team that toured Australia. “I’d find a uniform for her in a heartbeat.”

Scarbrough was likewise happy to have Tully in a Kinnick uniform. Whether pounding spike kills, passing to other teammates or delivering aces with her unusual jump serve, Tully was invaluable, Scarbrough said, in the Red Devils’ drive to seventh place in last month’s Far East tournament.

“She leads by example on and off the court,” Scarbrough said of a player who increased her kill ratio by 20 percent last season despite having 100 fewer kill attempts “because she would set for her teammates.”

Playing third base and shortstop on Kinnick’s softball team, Tully not only led the Red Devils last spring in on-base percentage, walks, hits, extra-base hits and fielding percentage, but by her example, Davis said.

“She only knows how to play hard,” Davis said. “She is a positive role model, a self-motivator and a great athlete. If she’s not helping others, then you can usually find her studying or working hard on an upcoming project, and doing it all with a smile.”

What might disappoint Davis, however, is Tully is contemplating a sport her sister Sarah played in Red Devils red-and-white — soccer.

“I’m considering it. I’m not totally sure,” Tully said.

Could she succeed on the soccer field, not having played competitively at the high school level? Scarbrough says there’s no doubt she can.

“She has such raw athletic talent that she could excel at any sport she chose,” Scarbrough said.

Volleyball, Tully says, is the sport she’d like to continue playing after graduation in June.

“I’m trying to go to a college on the East Coast,” said Tully, who has a 3.5 GPA. “Maybe Virginia or Georgia. I’m still searching. I’m trying to get a scholarship for that. We’re working on a tape, and I have to get those applications in.”

Something she says would be a senior-year crowning achievement, ascending the Class AA basketball tournament throne, absent since her freshman year, is an immediate concern.

“I think we can go all the way. We have a great team. Everybody’s important,” she said. “We’re doing really great this season. It’s my last year. I’m just going to give it all I have.”

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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