The drills were run with precision, while the head coach continually offered advice. But just like her playing days, Jackie Mulligan had her emotions well in check.

Not a yeller, or screamer, she commands respect simply with her presence. And her resume sure doesn't hurt either.

Mulligan is in her first season as Haddonfield's girls' basketball coach. The Bulldogs open their season Friday against Collingswood. Mulligan has not been a head coach since 2005, is the mother of three daughters (ages 10, 8, and 6) and is the wife of a rival coach.

That's right, her husband John Mulligan is the assistant coach at Haddon Township. He works under his brother, Tom. The two have helped the Hawks field one of the most consistent winning programs in South Jersey.

And not only that, there is this other rivalry with her alma mater, Sterling.

When Jackie Mulligan was playing and later coaching the Silver Knights, there were few rivalries more spirited than Sterling and Haddonfield. The two Group 2 schools routinely battled on more than even terms with the Group 3 and 4 heavyweights.

Mulligan was Sterling's interim coach in 2000-01 when coach Bill Ulrich underwent triple bypass surgery. She played a major role in leading the Silver Knights to the Tournament of Champions title.

Mulligan lost the interim title the next season and guided the Silver Knights for the next four years, adding another South Jersey Group 2 title. When roll call is taken for the best players in South Jersey history, Mulligan will be sitting somewhere in the front row. Then known as Jackie Donovan, Mulligan scored 2,516 career points at Sterling. The guard was named Gatorade's New Jersey player of the year in 1990. She guided Sterling to state titles in both her junior and senior seasons.

Keep in mind there was no three-point field goal when she played or that point total would have been sufficiently expanded.

"I might have had a few more points," she said, with a laugh.

From Sterling, she earned a basketball scholarship to Penn State and was the captain of the 1994 team that reached the Elite Eight.

Then she went into coaching first as an assistant, then as a head coach. And now she's back in the fray.

"Every day I am learning something new," she said after a spirited practice on Friday.

Mulligan is a Haddonfield resident, so this job, rivalries aside, is special to her. Over the years she has helped coach on a limited basis in the town's youth program.

"The people in the community are great and they are really excited about Haddonfield girls' basketball," she said.

At practice, she is a bundle of energy, going from one drill to another, imparting advice, and demonstrating various fundamentals.

She is especially adept at teaching how to shoot. In fact when a reporter suggested she still looked like she could hit threes in a game, she asked her players if they agreed.

There was laughter and some good-natured ribbing, but nobody said no.

Mulligan joked to her players that their biggest challenge was getting her daughters to become Haddonfield fans after cheering for Haddon Township all their lives.

And now?

"They are 'dogs fans," she said smiling, referring to Haddonfield's mascot, the Bulldog.

That may not go well with their father, but it's all part of a good-natured story.

Beyond the natural rivalries, what shouldn't be forgotten is that one of the most impactful players in South Jersey who was also immensely successful as a coach, is now back working with the youngsters.

And for that, the players at Haddonfield in particular and South Jersey girls' basketball in general, is much better off upon her return.