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Bell adds another special honor to remarkable career

WHEELING – His basketball coaching resume is both lengthy and impressive.

Bob Bell enters his 49th year of coaching roundball as assistant girls’ coach at Mentor High. The Cleveland-area school is the latest stop in Bell’s coaching journey stocked with success.

The former River High hoop great has recently received yet another honor. Bell is this year’s recipient of the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Sportsmanship, Ethic & Integrity Award. He will receive the prestigious award at the girls’ state hoop tournament in March.

“It (the award) really does mean a lot. Being honored by your peers makes it special and very humbling,” Bell, age 70, offered. “I have always tried to hold my players to a certain standard and hold myself to a certain standard. I never asked my team to make sacrifices that I wouldn’t make myself.

“Discipline and character have always been among my teams’ highest priorities. My players knew to respect their parents first, then their teachers, classmates and administrators. That respect carried over to their teammates, coaches and officials,” he added. “I was at a clinic where (Michigan State) Coach Tom Izzo spoke. He made a statement that I still carry with me every day. He said, ‘The greatest love that we can show young people is discipline. Not only do they need it, they want it.'”

Bell, a 1967 River High grad, was an all-OVAC honoree as a senior and all-Eastern Ohio selection as a junior and senior. He also played football and baseball for the Pilots.

“My coaching philosophy started when I was growing up. My parents were a huge influence. Then came Dick Potts. I idolized him even before he came to River. He was such a great guy.” Bell said. “My third influence was my wife, Cindy. I call her my assistant coach. I have bounced so many thoughts and ideas off her. She is like my conscience.”

Bell came to Mentor this year after a long and sparkling tenure as head girls’ coach as Kirtland.

“I spent 21 great years at Kirtland. It has been a great ride,” he continued. “Kirtland is a wonderful community. It reminds me of River High.

“But I coached many years at the D1 level and Mentor afforded me that opportunity again,” he added. ” It will be a lot of fun again coaching in the D1 arenas and the Greater Cleveland Conference.”

Last season, Bell collected his 500th varsity coaching win. The previous campaign, he guided Kirtland to a perfect 22-0 regular season and a school-record 23 wins. It was the Hornets’ 10th Chagrin Valley Conference title in the last 14 years as they also collected a 14th sectional title in Bell’s tenure at the school.

Such an impressive campaign landed Bell some half-dozen coach-of-the-year awards, topped by the AP Ohio Division III Coach-of-the-Year plaque.

Bell’s 500 wins are somewhat of a novelty. He amassed 212 while coaching boys.

He began his coaching career as jayvee mentor for Kent State High School, shortly after finishing his collegiate playing career for the Golden Flashes. His first head coaching position was with Skyvue in 1975.

The OHSBCA Sportsmanship, Ethic & Integrity Award has special meaning for Bell when he reflects on his days coaching the Golden Hawks.

“I was head coach at Skyvue for four seasons. In two of those years we were selected to receive the Sportsmanship Award from the OVAC,” Bell beamed. “It was chosen by the basketball officials, so it took on a special meaning.”

Bell’s coaching resume is one of a Buckeye State roadmap.

After his maiden voyage in the coaching ranks at Kent State High School, Bell moved to Ravenna Southeast High, serving two years as frosh coach and a third as jayvee mentor. Bell then returned to his Monroe County roots, taking the head boys job at Skvvue High in 1975.

He led the Golden Hawks to the PVC championship in 1978 and into the district tournament in 1977 at St. John Arena in Steubenville. The Hawks dropped a close encounter to the Terry Snively-coached Shadyside Tigers who featured the legendary Ed Andes.

Bell moved onto the head varsity boys job at Riverside High in 1979, taking his wife closer to her hometown of Willoughby South. Six years later, he accepted the head boys post at his wife’s alma mater, winning sectional crowns in 1989 and 1992.

In 1998, Bell found his way to Kirtland High. He guided the Hornets’ jayvee girls for three years before assuming the head post in 2001, and a successful and lengthy marriage was formed.

Bell won nearly 300 games as Kirtland’s head man. His Hornets pocketed 12 sectional crowns and a district title in 2005.

Bell also played baseball at Kent State, in addition to hoops. One of his diamond teammates has turned into a legendary coaching figure.

“Nick Saban was our shortstop. He was a good defensive back on the football team,” Bell said. “But he was also a pretty good shortstop. Nick was a great competitor.”

Bell met his wife Cindy at Kent State. They have five daughters and 12 grandkids.

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