During the late 1980s and in 1990, Carroll County High School’s Michelle Burcham Pitt was a three-sport standout for the Cavaliers. A talented post player on the successful girls’ basketball team, the pitcher for CCHS’s first fast-pitch softball team and also a volleyball standout, she was a vital part of many successful Cavalier teams before going on to play four years of girls’ basketball on scholarship at Barton College in Wilson, North Carolina.
Now the head volleyball coach at Farmville Central High School in eastern North Carolina, Burcham Pitt led the Jaguars’ to their fourth consecutive conference championship in 2012. The mother of three, Burcham Pitt’s oldest daughter, Alyssa, is a rising senior at Farmville Central and has already verbally committed to play volleyball at Radford University. Her middle daughter, Courtenay, is a rising freshman for Farmville Central, meaning Burcham Pitt will coach two of her daughters on the same team this fall.
This week, we catch up with Burcham Pitt to talk about playing three sports at CCHS, what life is like now as a coach, and interesting nicknames.
What year did you graduate from Carroll County? 1990
Where did you attend college? Barton College- Wilson, NC
Family members: Husband, and 3 daughters- Alyssa, Courteney, and Lauryn
Current Occupation: Market Assistant for Wal-Mart
What is your favorite memory in athletics? I have a lot of memories, playing travel ball and going to different places was always a fun time. We even played in a basketball tournament in Maryland and my dad felt the need to have his 9 iron handy! (inside joke). I had a game high against Christiansburg High school of 25 points and 24 rebounds all while being tripled teamed, that was pretty fun! My first year in college we were Conference Champs. We beat a team from West Va, “Oakvale” that had never lost a game…..on a last second shot!
Which sport did you enjoy the most, basketball, softball or volleyball, and why? Basketball and softball..it would be hard to break the tie between them.
The volleyball team at Farmville Central High School has won four straight conference championships. Carroll County’s volleyball program has also had a long string of district titles. As a coach, how much tougher is it to be the hunted rather than the hunter? As a coach I am trying to help my team understand that no matter where you are in the rankings it is all about the game you are about to play. We focus on playing with our “heart” and taking it one game at a time. I truly believe that no matter what sport or what level you play at, anyone can be beat at any time.
Your oldest daughter has verbally committed to play volleyball at Radford University and you have two younger athletic girls as well. How different is it to be on the other side of the fence as the parent of successful athletes? I feel very blessed that my daughters have taking up athletics. I enjoy being a mom and supporting them in everything that they do. I think that I appreciate what my parents did for me as a child more now that I am in their shoes. The time they took away from work and on the weekends to get me and my sister to games took a lot of dedication and several peanut butter and jelly sandwiches between games! I travel almost every weekend with my daughters as they play volleyball, they have played in NC, VA, GA, FL, OH, and TX. It is very tiring, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We understand your middle daughter will be a freshman on the varsity volleyball team at Farmville Central as well this year. How exciting is it to have a chance to coach two of your daughters on the same team? I am extremely excited to have 2 of my daughters finally playing together on the same team. Not sure that they are as happy to have their mom as the coach…because then they have to listen to me talk about volleyball at home and on the court. They have always played on different teams because of the difference in age, so to finally see them on the same court should make for a very interesting year. Courteney will be hitting outside and Alyssa is a middle hitter, so there will always be a Pitt girl on the front row, makes me feel a little bad for the opposing team…..not really!
What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you on the court or field in your playing days? Playing recreation one year, Tara Felts and I played on the same team. The funny thing is she was 4’11” and I was 5’7 or so at the time….we were playing in a game and I was trying to get her to score, she finally made a basket and we were so excited that she scored that we celebrated by rolling around on the floor while the other team took the ball down the court. We just laid there and laughed! Not really embarrassing, but it was so funny.
You were a member of Carroll County High School’s first fast-pitch softball team. Growing up with only soft pitch available, how hard was it to make the transition to fast pitch? It was very different, trying to adjust your bat speed and as a pitcher I had to learn how to pitch all over again. I played with a great group of girls, we also had fun. We even upset a few teams that no one thought we could ever beat!
We’re not even sure what this means, but we were told to ask what your “Weiner” nickname was??? Well… I had to call my sister on this one! We all had “Weiner” names, examples…Pogo Weiner, Little Weiner, Big Weiner, Hammer Weiner. I feel quite sure that Krista was the Master Mind to all these nicknames.
Your catcher, Krista Harmon Burnette, swears you broke her thumb with a pitch in high school. How did you plead to these charges? I plead the 5th……never knew I broke her thumb. But to be one of the first pitchers to ever pitch fast pitch at CCHS, I guess that is a good thing??? I am sorry “Little Wiener.”
What were your thoughts on backing an opposing hitter off the plate? Because it was new to me, I only hope to get the ball across the plate without hitting anyone!
When your father was a youth coach, we know he was big on teaching his players not to show any emotion. Is it safe to say you had trouble applying that lesson as a player? My parents were always at every game my sister and I played. My dad was always very out spoken to coaches, players and even the refs. I probably fussed at my dad a few times.
You had some tough, old-school coaches in your day such as Ron Quesenberry. How much do you take away from your past coaches today in your own coaching style? It was difficult for me in the beginning to coach middle school and high school girls, because I wanted everyone to have the same desire and passion that I had while playing sports. I have learned to get to know my players, which one can I fuss at, which one do I need to pull off to the side and explain to them what I need them to do, which ones do you have to encourage every time they do something. It is a constant learning experience, how to get the best out of each player. The more I know about them and respect them, the more hard work I get from them.
Carroll County’s girls’ basketball team was ranked first in the Timesland and fifth in the state when you played. What was it like to play with Rebecca Russell and Rhonda Quesenberry, and did you guys have to fight each other for rebounds? Never fought over a rebound, Rhonda was the Pogo stick that could jump out of the gym. As for Rebecca, if anyone knows anything about her she was super fast, so when we got a rebound we would throw a baseball pass and watch her run after it! Worked well every time, no one could catch her, not even when the team put a player at half court. We played in a very tough conference.
Could you ever see yourself moving back to Carroll County one day? I have considered moving back, my children also attend sports camps at the High School as well as the Oak Hill basketball camp. They like coming to stay with my parents. Who knows, maybe one day my children will be playing for CCHS!