WENDELL — Two Wendell Middle School employees recently became statewide standouts for their work in athletics.
The North Carolina Association for Athletic Educators chose East Wake softball head coach Melissa Bell as Female High School Coach of the Year, while Kristin Hasbrouck was named Middle School Athletics Director of the Year.
Bell, who teaches physical education at Wendell Middle School, is entering her fourth season as the Warriors softball coach. She knew she had been nominated for the honor but was caught off guard when she learned she had been selected as the winner.
“I was very surprised,” Bell said. “I kind of forgot about it, and then I got an email and a phone call about it. I was like, ‘What? Really?’ ”
Under Bell, the Warriors have steadily improved since 2011, when they finished 9-11. A year later, they were a winning squad with an 11-9 record. And just last season, the Warriors finished with a 16-6 mark and went deep into the playoffs.
Bell said her background as a councilor has played a role in her program’s improvement.
“I was a school councilor for a lot of years,” Bell said. “I learned a lot about relationships and just people in general – how important building that relationship is. Not only that, but getting them to work together as a team.”
Bell also bases her success on her competitive nature, as well as her ability to motivate and encourage others. As she puts it, she’s not afraid to “call a spade a spade.”
“A lot of times, the way you say things is really important, just in general in life for that matter,” Bell said. “And I do try to connect a lot of life lessons to what we do on the softball field.”
While Bell’s focus is on the softball diamond, Hasbrouck must coordinate all athletic endeavors for Wendell Middle School. She does her job well enough to be considered the best middle school athletics director in the state.
Hasbrouck, who is also a health and physical education teacher, joined Wendell Middle School five years ago and has made a large impact ever since.
“She is on the leadership team, she mentors beginning teachers,” Wendell Middle School principal Mary Castleberry said. “She is also very committed to our students’ schoolwork and does whatever it takes to make sure kids are safe and healthy.”
If a student-athlete is struggling in the classroom, Hasbrouck is known to encourage that student to do what it takes to excel academically. She does the same to help students excel in the athletics arena.
Recently, Hasbrouck was appointed to the Teacher Advisory Committee.
“It’s quite an honor for her,” Castleberry said. “She will be representing our teachers here in eastern Wake.”
Castleberry is delighted with the efforts of both Bell and Hasbrouck and the way they positively represent Wendell Middle School.
“I’m a very proud ‘Mama’ of my teachers,” Castleberry said. “It means a lot to know that the hard work that teachers put in every day pays off. These two ladies always go above and beyond.”