On Monday morning, former Stansbury High girls soccer star Kendall Bell woke up bright and early to kick off the next phase of her athletic career, getting an early-morning crash course in what college soccer is all about.
It was everything she could have asked for — and then some. Bell, who is entering her freshman season at Colorado Mesa University, an NCAA Division II school in Grand Junction, Colorado, was impressed by the intensity and desire her new team showed in its first day on the practice field together.
“I’m super excited and very nervous,” said Bell, one of 10 incoming freshmen on the CMU roster. “(Monday) morning was my very first practice with the team. It was awesome. It was a totally new experience — obviously very high intensity, which I expected. It was really cool coming into an experience where everyone wanted to be there.”
Bell’s decision to sign with the Mavericks this past February was a couple years in the making. As a sophomore, she and fellow Stansbury alum Samantha Howa traveled with Tooele girls soccer coach Stephen Duggan — who had coached them during their time with local club Stansbury Elite FC — and the Buffaloes to an offseason camp at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, where coaches from Colorado Mesa and other schools were in attendance.
“I guess I caught their eye at that SUU camp,” Bell said. “We started the recruiting process with (CMU) and I went to a bunch of their camps. I verbally committed last October and signed on National Signing Day in February.”
While the Mavericks’ coaches weren’t allowed to communicate directly with Bell right away because of her age, the mutual interest remained. Once she was old enough under NCAA rules to exchange emails with the coaches at CMU, she was impressed with how responsive they were.
“They were always really good about getting back to me super quick,” she said. “I’ve had experiences with other college coaches where I’ve emailed them and maybe got a short response a couple weeks later, but (CMU) is really on top of their communications.”
Bell said there were multiple reasons why Colorado Mesa was the right fit for her both athletically and academically.
“I had the opportunity to play (Division) I, but I really liked the fact that this school kind of revolved their sports around academics — students first and athletes after,” she said. “My education is really important to me. I love playing at a high level, but I know that I’m not going to do that the rest of my life. I like the fact that the school is really willing to help athletes out with their academics.”
“I really love Grand Junction,” she added. “It’s a small town and super nice. It’s a small, close community, and the campus is pretty small, which I like a lot more than a big campus.”
Bell will primarily line up at left back for the Mavericks after playing a multitude of positions during her time at Stansbury High. She scored nine goals and added 27 assists in 64 career varsity games with the Stallions, with her top offensive season coming during her sophomore year when she scored three goals and had 13 assists. She had four goals and eight assists as a junior, one goal and five assists as a senior and one goal and one assist as a freshman.