Eugene, OR. -- Danielle Bellando, a Eugene native played high school basketball at Willamette High, before playing college basketball at Western Oregon University.
It was at the University Bellando was given the first chance to turn her passion for the game into coaching.
"Had a term left of school and my coach at Western asked me to an assistant on the team" said Bellando. "So I was like okay, why not get some school paid for and coach at the same time."
However, her transition to coaching from being the player on the floor wasn't as easy as it may seem for some.
Bellando said, "Being you know 23, 24 coaching a team of girls that are you know four or five years younger than me. It was always kind of that weird balance."
After graduating from Western Oregon, Bellando then reached out to her former coach at Willamette to inquire about coaching at her alma mater. She then began coaching the freshman team at the high school until taking over the varisty squad when her former coach stepped down.
Despite coaching at the high school, Danielle similar to most high school coaches works a full time job. She currently serves as an account executive at KEZI working with the sales team. But with the help from her bosses she has been able to manage both professions.
"It's difficult, but the thing about that I think is different about me, opposed to other coaches is this is all I know" said Bellando. "I mean, I went straight from high school to college, to coaching in college to coming right back and coaching in high school. So I guess I've never really experienced that non-basketball season."
Unfortunately for Bellando and her Wolverines, their final game of the season was cancelled due to the effects of winter weather preventing them from making the playoffs this season. The team finished with a record of (9-14, 6-9) and a 20th Oregon School Activities Association ranking.
She said, "It was a rocky start. We lost some close ones that I think towards the end of the season you know, we're trying to make the top four; that I think if they were there it would have been a different story playoff wise. But we finished the season strong, and as a coach that's all I can ask for. Because that means from day one of tryouts to our last game that we improved over the season and I think that was a big accomplishment for us as a team."
Next season five of her players are expected to return to the Wolverine lineup.