Being named to a Hall of Fame is the crowning achievement for most coaches and ex-players. To be so honored three times in your life is extraordinary.
Betty Jean Hallmark of Severna Park is just that.
For a third time, Hallmark is going into be inducted into a Hall of Fame. And this time, she goes into the Hall of the school she calls her "second home," Anne Arundel Community College.
Hallmark, whohas been a teacher and coach at Anne Arundel for 21 years, will be inducted into the Pioneers' Hall of Fame on Sunday, Oct. 13, at the school's annual bull roast.
"It's ridiculous. Must be my gold watch," she joked after learning of the latest honor.
In 1979, Hallmark was inducted in the Red Cross Hall of Fame for her dedication to lifeguarding and volunteer work for the organization.
Three years ago,she was named to the Hall of her college alma mater, Western Maryland.
She played four sports -- field hockey, basketball, volleyball and softball -- in each of her four years at Western Maryland. She also became the only junior national basketball referee the school everhad during her tenure as a Green Terror.
Now, Anne Arundel Community College will bestow its highest honor on her, and this is very special to Hallmark.
"It's my second home. I love that place," said Hallmark, getting very emotional and fighting back the tears. "The students are great, always have been. There are a lot of very special people who go there and who work there.
"I often find myself pulling out notes and letters I've received from former students who took the time to say 'thanks' and how I might have touched their lives. That makes my life and mission worthwhile."
Her mission has been to give her all to her classes and teams. Most anyone who has ever had this woman for a class at the community college, or had the privilege of playing on a team she coached, will tell you it was the experience of a lifetime.
She's tough, but caring, and expects of her students what she gives -- dedication.
To say she has been dedicated to AACC and women's sports is an understatement.
In her 21 years at Anne Arundel, she has coached basketball, softball and field hockey. But in 1981, after the death of her husband, William, she gave up coaching to devote more time to her two daughters, Jennifer and Melissa.
She has been a physical education instructor at the community college for 21 years and currently teaches swimming, water aerobics, exercise fitness walking, several health courses and volleyball, and conducts a physical fitness skills lab.
There are 25 men and women of all ages, including some faculty members, in her fitness walking class, and another 32 in the volleyball class.
Hallmark also teaches water safety and is a lifeguard instructor.
While teaching and watching the development of her students is her passion, she admits missing coaching, but gave it up for a very good reason.
"Jennifer was away at school after my husband died, and Melissa was attending Severna Park High and playing three sports, but coming home to an empty house because I was still coaching," Hallmark explained.
"I felt thatit was important for me to spend as much time with her as I could, and I gave up coaching at the end of the '82 softball season. So, I followed her around to her games and was there when she needed me."
Hallmark has no regrets, saying, "I'm lucky to have two girls like I do. Every day I say thanks for the loving, caring daughters I have. They are my family, and we needed each other after my husband died."
When William was alive, he was more than proud of his wife, the coach.
Under Hallmark's guidance, the Anne Arundel field hockey teamsof the 1970s produced many outstanding players. And the 1981 field hockey team provides Hallmark with a special memory, because that teamfinished runner-up in the Maryland JuCo Conference with only 12 players.
Girls soccer, which would ultimately rule and result in the elimination of field hockey, was on the horizon and gaining momentum.
"Soccer was growing fast and getting big in the high schools, so Iunderstood why we had to drop (field hockey)," said Hallmark. "Therejust weren't enough girls to keep it going."
Hallmark started theAnne Arundel women's basketball program in 1975 and says that is thesport she most loved to coach.
"You are constantly pitting your knowledge against the other coach, and it's a fast game," she said. "If I ever get back into coaching, and I think I might like to try it again, it will probably be basketball."
Her basketball teams at Anne Arundel were a reflection of her personality -- relentless.
After becoming a club team in 1975, the result of a petition by 18 girls at the school to add the sport, Hallmark led the Pioneers into varsity junior college competition the following year, and they won the Maryland JuCo championship.
Two more state titles in basketball followed, as did success in softball. The last softball team she coached, in 1982, advanced to the national tournament in Chicago, where the Pioneers placed sixth.