Four sports. Lessons three times a week. Two jobs. Sophomore year of high school.
To those who know her, it is no surprise that Kiersten Bell is the first athlete in Denmark High School’s history to receive their varsity letter in three sports – let alone four sports.
“I’m pretty busy,” Bell said. “I write my plans out in my phone every week, but I love it. I like having things to occupy my time. I love my sports.”
Bell first made Denmark history after lettering in soccer, softball and basketball in her freshman year. She added flag football to her long list, making her now the school’s first four-sport athlete.
Soccer was her first love. She started playing when she was 5 years old. Both parents played soccer and Bell was hooked. She then picked up basketball and softball in middle school.
Once she added football this past fall, the people around her knew she was destined for something great.
“We worked really hard this season on her mental toughness and grit in soccer,” Denmark girls soccer coach Jen Barr said. “She’s grown a lot mentally. She deserves this just for the work ethic alone.”
Bell agreed, crediting her relationship with Barr on her becoming an athlete who can remain mentally tough.
“Coach Barr is like my second mom,” Bell said. “I love her to death. She pushes me really hard. She’s seen me cry and so frustrated … more than any other coach. She pushes me to be a really good person too. I’m grateful for her.”
Originally from San Diego, Bell said she would love to attend college in California for an opportunity to play either softball or soccer. Maybe even both.
In high school sports, junior year is the most important year for an athlete’s college recruitment. Bell voiced concern about having programs in California notice her hard work, so she said she has to bear down and work even harder.
“Next year is a big year for me,” Bell said. “I’ve got to focus and work hard. I’m athletic, but it’s not just going to come to me in a snap. I go to goalie training every week. I have hitting lessons for softball twice a week. I have to put in the extra work to see the results.”
On top of everything, Bell still finds time to study for her classes and work her two jobs at Launch Trampoline Park and the scorer’s table for local basketball games.
Bell credits her family for pushing her to remain the best at whatever she wants to accomplish. Her brother, a high school football state champion in California, has been her biggest role model through her athletic career.
“My brother’s in the Army,” Bell said, “so I don’t see him a lot. When he hears about my big accomplishments, he always calls me and says ‘Kiersten, you’re doing so good. I’m so proud of you.’ And that just makes me so happy.”
Bell learned a new part of sports this past season; sitting and watching. After 10 years of playing competitive sports, Bell sustained her first major injury during basketball practice when she landed funny after a layup and sustained a partial Jones fracture in her foot.
“It was definitely a struggle,” Bell said. “Just mentally, having to go to physical therapy was tough. I couldn’t walk at all and was using crutches for two months. And I really tried to rush myself back because I hated not being on the field.”
Bell returned for the end of basketball season and played in the first round of the state tournament, but she did not get to finish her first season of flag football either. She said she learned valuable lessons about being a teammate and contributing to the team without playing.
“Sports is definitely not all about being on the field,” Bell said. “The relationships I’ve built with the people in each individual sport is incredible. All my teammates push me to be a better person along with a better player on the field.”
Now Bell is back on the field as the goalie for Denmark’s soccer team. Both basketball and softball qualified for the state tournament this season. Bell and the rest of the Denmark soccer team are just one win away from qualifying for the Class 7A playoffs, which would make Bell the first Denmark athlete to make three state playoffs in the same season.
“I think it’s really cool that we’re a new school and building the foundation,” Bell said. “Years on from now, I’d love to be known as the first athlete to letter in four sports. It’s like Denmark is a family. It’s like I’m going to a second home.”
Denmark’s last region game is Wednesday against South Forsyth at Denmark. If the Danes win, they will finish third in Region 6-7A and eliminate South from the postseason
“We gotta go out there and kick some butt,” Bell said. “We’ve got to act like it’s our last game we’ve ever played. We can’t be going out with a mindset of them being a lower seed.”
Wednesday’s match starts at 5:55 p.m.