Milligan reaps benefits of Wise siblings’ competitiveness

Kevin Mays • Apr 17, 2020 at 5:30 PM

Competition is a way of life for Hayley Wyrick Bollinger and Hannah Wyrick.

“Our family is competitive in everything we do,” Wyrick said. “Board games, puzzles — it doesn’t matter. It’s going to be competitive. Dad and Hayley are more competitive than I am, and that’s saying something. Mom is competitive, depending on what is going on.”

Being competitive has paid off for Bollinger and her younger sister, Hannah.

Both were at the top of their games in high school.

Bollinger was a key player for Milligan, and Wyrick is shaping into another key contributor for the squad after recently completing her sophomore season for the Lady Buffs.


When it comes to sports, the sisters both point to their dad, Union baseball coach David Wyrick as their mentor and role model.

“My dad always says hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” Bollinger said. “I’ve always tried to remember that and work at hard at everything I do, whether it’s basketball or work or whatever it may be.”

Wise Central girls’ basketball coach Robin Dotson was also a great mentor for Bollinger.

She was a key reason for Central’s run to the VHSL Class 2 state runner-up finish in 2013.

Bollinger was named as the state player of the year that season and finished her high school career with 1,970 points.

“I have such respect for Coach Dotson. He expected a lot from us and would not let us settle for less. My dad expected that from us too,” she said.

After her prep career, Bollinger decided to continue her education and basketball playing at Milligan, her father’s alma mater.

“Milligan was a good fit for me,” Bollinger said. “It was far enough away from home, but wasn’t too far that my family could not come watch me play and be a part of the experience for me.

“I had high expectations for myself at college,” Bollinger recalled. “I knew I was going to work as hard I could to have a chance to play and I was going to earn it.”

She said the atmosphere on Milligan’s campus and basketball court made her feel comfortable.

So comfortable, in fact, that she was a part of the Lady Buffs’ back-to-back Appalachian Athletic Conference championships and trips to the NAIA National Championship in Sioux City, Iowa.

“Memories of traveling on the charter buses to the national tournament, that’s what really stands out,” Bollinger said. “The memories we have as a team. Playing as a basketball team that’s one thing. But the memories and friendships you make — those will last forever.”

Bollinger did not participate on the court in her team’s run to the AAC championship in her junior year.

An ACL tear ended her season just nine games into the season.

“I had to sit out the rest of the season because of the injury, but that gave me a whole new perspective of the game.”

In her senior year, Bollinger was back as a team leader on the court. For the fourth consecutive year, she finished the season averaging double-figure scoring.

While only playing nine games in her junior year, Bollinger finished her collegiate career averaging 15.3 points per game, with 1,577 points.

Bollinger and her husband now live in Flat Rock, N.C., about an hour and a half from the Johnson City area and Milligan.

That proximity to her alma mater allows her to travel to the school to watch her younger sister play basketball.

“I’m proud of her. It’s been good for me to be able to watch her.”


While Bollinger watches Wyrick play as much as possible and offers advice from time to time, she doesn’t try to get in the way.

“Sometimes we talk about what she sees, but she’s very supportive all the time,” Wyrick said.

The younger Wyrick graduated from Eastside in 2017 after becoming the leading basketball scorer, girls or boys, in Wise County history with 2,379 points.

When she went to Milligan last year, Wyrick had to make an adjustment to her game because she was moved to the point guard position.

“It’s just something that I’ve had to get used to,” she said. “In high school I scored a lot and I liked to score. But here I have a different role to get the ball up the court and to get it to post players.

“My assist to turnover ratio is good and that’s a good thing for a point guard. I think I’ve handled the role better than I think,” Wyrick said.

She said family support has helped make the adjustment to her game.

“I wouldn’t have made it without the support,” Wyrick said.

Wyrick’s father was an assistant coach for Eastside girls’ basketball her last couple of years.

“It was great having him there. He’s not only a good sports coach. He’s a good coach for life,” she said.

Heading into her junior year this fall, Wyrick is averaging 6.0 points and 1.7 assists per game, while quarterbacking the Lady Buffs’ offensive attack.

Regardless of where they are playing or what they are doing, both sisters know they will have the support of their family. And that, they agree, is the most important thing.

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