CLUBS & ACTIVITIES
Prep soccer: Bell, Flyers hit new height
October 8, 2011Little Falls Activities
Written by:Tyler Buckentine
St. Cloud Times
LITTLE FALLS — When Grant Bell heads home after practice, he reverts to his role as Julie Bell’s third-oldest son. For a couple hours a week, Grant is his mother’s star forward for the Little Falls boys soccer team.
“It usually ends right after we leave the field,” said Grant Bell, a senior captain for the Flyers. “She turns into Mom again.”
No one was prouder than Mom on Saturday, when Grant Bell broke the state’s all-time goals record, previously held by Plainview-Elgin-Millville’s Chadd Cordova.
“I’m very proud of him, and the team for helping make this feat happen,” Julie Bell said. “It was a tremendous accomplishment.”
Grant Bell entered Saturday’s game against Monticello tied for the record at 103 goals. He scored 2:56 into the game and again midway through the first half to set the record at 105 goals.
Bell has 26 goals and 10 assists on the season, and the Flyers are 10-0 with four games left in the regular season. Julie saw Grant had a gift from the start.
“He had the benefit of having his older brothers there for him,” Julie Bell said. “He was playing the middle school kids when he was in fourth grade. At that young age, you could see that he was very skilled with the ball.”
Julie Bell started the Little Falls soccer program in 2000 along with her oldest son, Christopher. The Flyers got their first taste of success when Eric Bell led the Flyers to their first section final in 2005.
And now, Grant Bell has taken Little Falls soccer to a new level.
“This year is different from other years,” said Bell, the 2010 Times area Player of the Year. “Everyone is clicking and we have great team chemistry. Everyone is on the same page.”
Bell, who has committed to play college soccer at Bradley University, will look to lead the Flyers to win No. 11 Monday when Little Falls plays at Sartell. The youngest Bell brother, Tom, has a goal and five assists as a freshman.
“The first few years were tough, but the program’s come along very well,” said Eric Bell, an assistant for Little Falls and the Times Area Player of the Year in 2005. “This is by far the best start the team has ever had. We’ve made vast improvements from last year.”
Grant Bell’s skills and leadership have Little Falls aiming at the program’s first state tournament berth. St. Cloud Cathedral has been a perennial section obstacle in the quest for state, eliminating the Flyers every season since 2005.
But even the coach of the Crusaders has about as much respect for Grant Bell as a coach can show for an opposing player.
“If he was living in Europe, he’d be playing professional,” said Cathedral coach John Pepper. “Him and (former Cathedral star) Michael Coborn are the two best high school players I’ve seen in this area.”
Bell’s response: “John is a good guy and a great coach and to receive a compliment like that, I don’t even have a word for it. There’s nothing better than that.”
“I worry about him every time we play him,” Pepper said. “I know from talking to our guys who have to mark him, he gets up to speed very quickly. He’s not only very fast but very quick.”
Little Falls defeated Cathedral for the first time in its 12-year history on Sept 15, winning by a 2-1 score.
Bell didn’t score against Cathedral, although he did assist on one goal. He is a playmaker too, after all. For every two goals he scores, there’s an assist.
“He certainly tries to set up his teammates for goals, too,” Julie Bell said. “Sometimes I have to remind him to pass the ball and I usually stop him at three goals, but he is a team player. He sees things and he distributes the ball well.”
Grant Bell thinks back five years to when his mom first put him in the varsity team’s starting lineup as an eighth-grader and he was placed under the clichéd microscope. Some believed his spot was the product of nepotism.
“When I was younger, all I got was ‘he’s only playing because he’s her son,’” Grant said. “But I think, over the years, I’ve proved to people I wasn’t playing just because I was the son of the coach.”
It all seemed to work out for Little Falls soccer. Next on Grant Bell’s list things-to-break list: the record for goals in a season, which is 35.