Campus News

Bethel women’s lacrosse goalkeeper hits the big leagues with team U.S.A.

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IMG_6577 Bethel College has had women’s lacrosse as a collegiate sport for a little over a year now. Many of the athletes on this team have risen to the occasion of learning a completely new sport and have found both a great passion as well as a sense of excellence within this newfound experience. One extreme example of this “overnight success story” can be found in senior goalkeeper Sam Bellis, who will be representing much more than just the Pilots in a few months. She will be representing the United States of America. Bellis was recently accepted onto the United States national women’s lacrosse team, competing in Amsterdam in June of 2017. The tournament is a part of the international sports organization known as United World Games. Bellis will take part in a 10-day trip to the Netherlands’ capital city, where she will practice, train and compete with fellow American collegiate lacrosse players with the hopes of helping team U.S.A. become the international champions. I was able to sit down with Bellis to talk about her emotions and the honor of being selected for such a prestigious group of athletes during her senior season. “It’s crazy,” said Bellis, “Just knowing that the people that are going to be there will be world-class athletes is just shocking to me. Not only are they going to be there, but I am going to be there too!” Ironically, she, like so many of her current teammates, had never played lacrosse before Bethel added the sport last year. Yet here she is, months away from representing not just Bethel College, but also her country as a member of team USA. “I honestly don’t see how it’s all possible to happen in a year,” said Bellis, relaying her shock of the surprise opportunity. “I had a couple friends that kind of persuaded me to join the Bethel team last year. I wasn’t sure about it at first, since I was a junior in college and would be playing a sport for the first time as a collegiate athlete, but I guess when something clicks, it clicks.” Bellis was always a fan of sports throughout the years, even competing on her high school’s softball team. However, prior sports experience or not, Bellis still believes that this opportunity is something that she truly could have never expected a year and a half ago. “I never would have thought that I’d be here,” said Bellis in shock. “[I am] really humbled by it and shocked. I didn’t think that in a year’s time I would be able to go and play at such a high level with people across the world for team USA.” Even though she doesn’t carry a long history of lacrosse experience in her career with the sport, Bellis still believes that she has many intangible qualities to offer team USA. “Excitement, humility and a good attitude,” said Bellis. “More than anything, I’m ready to go play.” Bellis went on to explain that this trip will be no cakewalk, as it involves a plethora of hard work, but still offers hours of time spent playing the sport she loves. “The first 3 days we are going to be practicing with the team,” explained Bellis. “The next four days we’re going to shove in a bunch of games, but the last days are going to be for team bonding and visiting some of the sights of Amsterdam and getting the whole experience.” However, this experience means so much more to Bellis than just playing lacrosse. The theme of this opportunity, according to Bellis, is definitely scattered with all sorts of new first experiences. “It’s going to be cool to meet a whole bunch of new people,” stated Bellis. “I love, love, love that I get to be able to travel, because I haven’t really had a lot of opportunities for that yet. I’ve never been out of the country and have never been on a plane…There’s a lot of new things going into this, and I want to actually experience it all beyond just the games. I mean yes, we want to win, but that comes with having fun as well.” Bellis, though overcome by the honor and excitement that this opportunity has presented her, was also able to admit that there may be some nerves involved, too. “Oh yeah,” said an enthusiastic Bellis, “I’m really nervous about it all just because I’ve only played for a year, and I’m coming in to play with people who have been playing a lot longer than I have been. I would like to think that in the past year and a half I have learned a lot of things, but it’s hard to keep up with all the changes that are happening every day in lacrosse. Outside of that, I am just so ready.” Bellis believes that though she is not a scholarship athlete from a big school, she still has the possibility of doing huge things for the American team. “It’ll be different, but humility is big.” said Bellis in reflection of the prestigious moments to come. “There’s going to be a lot of people from big schools everywhere. Being from a small school is just like, ‘Wow, I’m shocked.’ I think big school athletes kind of expect this sort of thing to happen, being brought in as scholarship athletes, but I’m just playing because it’s a new passion for me.” After returning from Amsterdam in June, Bellis plans on finishing up her degree in Health and Physical Education, something that she sees as a great way to continue her passion of lacrosse after graduation. “Not only will I be teaching once I graduate, but I also really want to start up a lacrosse program at my old high school just because lacrosse is becoming such a big thing now,” stated Bellis. “The sport used to be more of a coastal one, but it’s making its way into the Midwest, and I would like to help it continue to spread as well.” One thing is certain: this opportunity is one that Bellis will most certainly be unable to duplicate, and it truly proves to be the surprise of a lifetime. “I was not expecting this at all,” said Bellis with an enormous smile on her face. “It’s really an honor and nothing really rivals this. I don’t think any previous lacrosse experience is going to top this one.”
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