Julee Bailey was a three-sport star at Deerfield-Windsor, where she played basketball, softball and was on the track & field team. She joins three others in the 2013 class and will be inducted into the Albany Sports Hall of Fame tonight.
ALBANY — Julee Bailey remembers it like it was yesterday.
There she stood at the free throw line with just seconds remaining during her senior season at the University of Montevallo — the fate of the conference championship resting on her fingertips.
But that wasn’t all.
“With those two free throws, I had a chance to win the championship and break the school and state records for field goal and free throw percentage,” said Bailey, who calmly sank both shots to finish her college career with a staggering 92 percent mark from the charity stripe. “I’ll never forget that moment.”
And now tonight, back home in Southwest Georgia where her career began, the Albany Sports Hall of Fame will ensure Bailey’s many accomplishments will never be forgotten.
The former Deerfield-Windsor three-sport star, who made her biggest mark on the hardwood — calling basketball her “favorite, by far” — will join three other prominent former local athletes as the latest to be enshrined during the 27th annual induction ceremony at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Bailey admits she was elated the day she played hero for Montevallo and etched her name in the record books, but her husband Marshall thinks finding out she was headed to the Albany Sports HOF may have been a happier moment.
“He says I acted like I won the lottery,” Bailey, 43, said with a laugh. “It took quite a few minutes to settle in once I got the call. I’m very excited. It’s such an honor.”
Albany Sports HOF President Bobby Stanford said Bailey’s resume’ stood out.
“Her accomplishments in high school and college were really impressive,” Stanford said. “We pick the best people each year, and between all she did at school and college — and how much she’s involved civicly in her community — she was an easy choice.”
Bailey lettered in three sports at Deerfield: hoops, track & field and softball, earning the Most Valuable Player award her senior her as the school’s top overall female athlete. She was such a force in everything she did, after transferring to Truett-McConnell from Brunswick College following one year at BC (the school closed), she was offered a basketball and volleyball scholarship at Truett.
There was only one problem.
“I had never played volleyball,” said Bailey, whose toned, athletic, 5-foot-9 frame convinced coaches she could. “So I had a scholarship for both. It was great.”
Basketball, however, was what she did best. During her lone season on scholarship in Brunswick, she was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year. Then during her first year at Truett, she made a splash both on and off the court, making the All-Conference Team, earning Defensive Player of the Year and setting the school record or most steals in a single season.
Oh, and she was also named the Homecoming Queen.
“Those were fun times,” she said. “There’s a lot of memories there.”
Bailey’s career took her to Montevallo after her sophomore season, where set more records and took home other accolades. But nothing compares to that final game.
“It was all right there: the records and the championship,” she said of the two potential game-winning free throws that day. “I still can’t believe it all came down to that moment for everything. Being a part of the 1,000-point club at Deerfield was special, but I’d have to say ending my career like that was the most memorable of all.”
She left Montevallo as a two-time All-Conference selection, team MVP and also etched her name in the UM record books with the highest career field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage and highest rebounding average at the time.
After graduating with her education degree and getting married, Bailey became a teacher.
She and now teaches third grade at East Laurens Elementary in East Dublin, and when asked if she was more nervous on the first day of school talking to her class of 7- and 8-year-olds, or about her speech tonight at the crowded Hilton Garden Inn.
Bailey didn’t hesitate.
“(Tonight),” she laughed. “I feel so honored to be included in this (with the other three inductees). I could talk all day to my class, but among your peers makes me a little nervous. We’ll see how it goes!”
If it’s anything like her life and career have gone, her latest moment in the spotlight should be as easy as hitting two free throws ...