Sep 2, 2013
By Jon Cooper
There’s only one thing that Bailey Hunter loves more than volleyball. That is Georgia Tech Volleyball.
From 2008 through 2012, Hunter was a devastating hitter on the outside for the Yellow Jackets, and, playing with good friend Monique Mead, made for one of the ACC’s most lethal outside hitting tandems.
The Hendersonville, N.C., native finished her career with 1,284 career kills (2.97 per set), with 89 service aces (37 her senior year), 468 digs (262 as a senior), and 155 blocks. She had her best year in her final year on the Flats, coming back for a fifth year in 2012 after redshirting in 2011, as an injury led to her sitting out the season after only seven matches.
After her career at Tech, during which she was All-ACC First Team in 2010 (with Mead and setter Mary Ashley Tippins) and Honorable Mention AVCA All-District III, and was ACC Honor Roll in ’09 and ’11, and especially finishing with that career-year in ’12, Hunter decided she wasn’t willing to just let the game she lives for go. So she chose to play professionally, going to Europe to play after landing an offer from Doprastav Bratislava in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Once that season ended, Hunter continued to follow the bouncing volleyball, making a special trip to China with USA Volleyball.
She recently landed a job at Georgia Tech as a marketing assistant in the Athletic Association, allowing her to stay around the sport she loves and location where she most loved to play, O’Keefe Gymnasium.
Sting Daily caught up with Hunter following the team’s Gold and White Scrimmage and talked with her about the joy of playing in China with Team USA, the withdrawal from not being allowed to play with Georgia Tech and her dreams to coach volleyball somewhere down the road.
STING DAILY: How would you assess your first pro season?
BAILEY HUNTER: I went to Slovakia, which is in Eastern Europe, and loved it. I had a great experience. It was awesome.
STING: How did your trip to China come about?
HUNTER: That was with Team USA. it was a USA development team. It was through people I had met and they asked me to play on it. I had no idea what it was at first. They were like, ‘Hey, do you want to go to China with part of USA?’ I was like, ‘Can I be No. 11?’ They said,’Yes.’ So I said, ‘Sign me up!’ So I was No. 11 over there. It was nice. I was with some girls from Arkansas, some West-Coast girls, a player from Florida, just some really talented players. We played eight games in 10 days, which was a ton but it was really exciting. I met a lot of really good girls. The Chinese players are incredible. They were the most disciplined and talented players I ever played against. It was an awesome experience. My parents actually ended up coming and they watched in Beijing. it was really exciting to have some fans, we had four fans, they were two of mine and two of one of our teammates.
STING: With so many games in such a short time, did you get to sight-see?
HUNTER: It was really cool. China is a completely different world. I enjoyed it. I saw a lot of things. The Great Wall of China was beautiful, Tiananmen Square was really nice and The Forbidden City. It was a lot of stuff that I had read about and hoped I would see but kind of thought I wouldn’t. To get the opportunity to see it was really sweet. It was everything that I look for in my life — traveling and volleyball. Nothing could be better.
STING: You’re back in the Georgia Tech Athletics family. Describe your current role.
HUNTER: I was doing an internship with Georgia Tech Sports Marketing Department, which kind of led to a G.A. position. So I’m going to get my Master’s in January in Sports Management and maybe someday coach, be an athletic director. I just know that I want to be around sports and it’s a really nice transition period for me because I get to come back, put my heart where my passion is, with Georgia Tech and work for them to bring fans and promote my school, everything I want to do.
STING: Is it nice to be around the volleyball team again?
HUNTER: I’m lobbying [Head Coach] Tonya [Johnson] in every way I can. ‘Do you need someone to practice?’ ‘Do you need someone to shag balls?’ ‘Do you need someone to keep stats?’ Like any opportunity I can to be around Georgia Tech Volleyball I jump at it. It’s a nice change for me, working in marketing now, with the Georgia Tech Athletic Association but it gives me the opportunity to still support the people I love. So it’s exciting.
STING: Are you allowed to practice with the team?
HUNTER; No. Once you’re alumni you have to have a certain amount of time out before you can come physically practice with them. This summer I was able to because it was captains’ practices, the coaches weren’t here, it was open gym. But outside of that, I’m not allowed to. I can just be a spectator, shag some balls, do stats.
STING: How hard is it for you to be around it and not be able to participate?
HUNTER: It’s hard for me because I feel like I can still go out there and do it. I’m still young, I work out every day, I play as much as I can. I just joined an adult team with Brittany Roderick and Michelle Kandell, who played here (Roderick from 2006 through 2009, Kandell from 2005 through 2008). So it is a challenge every day coming in here but I’m embracing the opportunity to be in a whole different chapter of my life and I’m grateful that I’m still around volleyball. So it’s a good place. It was hard at first but it’s a good place. I think you have to be out three or four years. I’m not exactly sure because rules change like yearly it seems, but I just know that when that opportunity does happen, maybe I’ll be coaching here, maybe I’ll be coaching somewhere else, but I know I’ll be back in the gym with some team.
STING: Would you like to pursue college coaching?
HUNTER: I’m definitely interested. I’m going to be coaching with A5 again this fall and I’m excited about that. It gives me the opportunity to be around a ton of great college coaches at tournaments and network that way. I think what sells me is that I’m passionate about the game. I love it, I know a lot about it. I bring a lot to the table outside of just a knowledge and technically for volleyball.
STING: Will you be coaching with Monique Mead again?
HUNTER: I would love to coach with her or even play with her. We had this great plan because a team in Germany was looking at both of us, that we should go and play together. I ended up deciding not to play and she want off to Azerbaijan. I think our [playing] days together are over but we’re still really close and super, super-good friends.
STING: What have you heard from Monique as far as her pro career?
HUNTER: She’s excited. Her first week of practice just wrapped up and it was really successful. Lots of running, which was a complete change for her — she HATES running — but she knows that she’s there to play volleyball and it’s her job and she’s embracing that and taking advantage of every opportunity. We’re super-proud of her.
STING: What do you think of this year’s team from what you saw (at the Gold and White Scrimmage)?
HUNTER: I thought they looked great. I’m really proud of the freshmen. I’ve never seen them play and I’m super-excited for them. I’m very optimistic. The returners, Courtney [Felinski] did well, Jennifer [Percy] did well, Quinn [Evans], Kaleigh [Colson], it’s exciting.
STING: Now that you’re campus, will you still be in attendance for matches?
HUNTER: I will be here. You cannot keep me out of this gym. Any opportunity, I’m here. I’m their No. 1 fan.
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