Hannah McNulty used to tag along with older brothers Kyle and Hugh and often played basketball with them and their friends during open gym sessions in Stowe, Vt.
"I knew what she was capable of,"
High School boys coach Evans Bouchard said. "It's funny, because I always teased her that she should play for the boys."
Well, this winter, it no longer was a teasing matter.
McNulty, now a 5-foot-6 senior guard, ended up playing 17 games for the Stowe boys team after the girls team folded following just one game.
She is the first girl in Vermont history to play for a boys basketball team adding another chapter to recent gender-breaking high school sports news.
* Last weekend, two females - Marti Sementelli
and Ghazaleh Sailors - pitched against one another in a Southern California baseball game
, which caused a national stir.
* Two weeks before that, national columnists everywhere had a field day when an Iowa male wrestler refused to compete against female Cassy Herkelman
in the state high school tournament based on religious beliefs.
This was a little different.
Athletic director Joanna Graves explained that due to low turnout, injuries and ineligibilities, the girls team barely had enough players to field a team following a season-opening loss.
"They had a meeting as a team and made a decision not to have a team and to support Hannah (the lone senior) and let her play with the boys," Graves said. "She's fun to watch and a great hustler."
McNulty, who has been playing basketball since age five, started at point guard for the previous three seasons for the Stowe girls and led last year's team in scoring with a 15-point average.
She cracked the boys starting lineup in her third game and wound up averaging six points per game for the Division 3 school with 250 students in grades 9-12. She had a high of 11 points and twice reached 10. The team finished 2-19 after a season-ending playoff loss to Thetford Academy on Tuesday.
There weren't many problems on the court all season.
"The first game, the other team was matching up and they all were timid and didn't want to guard the girl," McNulty said. "I just kind of brushed it off and played my game. Toward the end of the season, teams were fine about it.
"I had hoped to score 1,000 points (for her girls career), so I had a goal to score 800. I finished with 801. I was disappointed that I wasn't going to get 1,000 points, but it helped me step up my game so I think I benefited from it."
Bouchard was pleased by McNulty's performance.
"My only concern was the (physicality) of boys," Bouchard said. "She really understands defense. She moves her feet well and knows how to play the angles. She is a good shooter, but had to learn how to get her shot off quicker. She attacked the basket. She was just one of the guys to me.
"At a couple of the away games, I think she had more people cheering for her than for the home team."
McNulty already is set to play basketball for the girls team at Suffolk University, a Division 3 college in Boston, Mass., where she plans to study accounting. There currently is a story about her
on the Suffolk website.
Also a standout in tennis and soccer, McNulty played goalie leading the Stowe soccer team to a state crown.
"With her work ethic and love for basketball, she will work her way into playing time (at Suffolk)," Bouchard said. "She's not going to be afraid of the physicality of the college game. She's got all the tools to be a success."