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KNOX, Pa. (EYT/D9) — When Sydney Bell needs to get ready for a big volleyball match, or a pivotal basketball game, or a key clash on the softball diamond, she breaks into a Disney song.
“For basketball it was mostly, ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno,’” Bell said of her choice in Disney ditties as she stretched pregame.
It’s just one of the Keystone High School three-sport standout’s rituals.
Another is eating pickles. A lot of pickles.
“I love pickles,” Bell said. “I drink the juice. I freeze the juice and make popsicles (well, picklesicles). When sports are in, I eat a pickle every night.”
Bell has put opponents in a pickle during her career, especially on the volleyball court.
A middle-hitter, Bell was particularly adept at flustering opposing hitters with her uncanny blocking ability.
She finished her junior season with 39 blocks — 15 of them solo. She also had 138 kills and 41 service aces.
Bell was one of the reasons why Keystone won the District 9 Class 2A championship for the first time in 29 years.
“It was awesome. It was like a dream come true,” Bell said of winning the D9 title last year. “This year, we’re basically all seniors and we’ve all been playing together since the seventh grade. It would be great (to repeat). I really want to just have fun. Last year we pushed each other so hard that our team was falling apart and we had to reconnect. We were able to unite and get back that connection we had. I think that’s why we were able to win.”
The team began a playoff ritual: dinner together before matches.
“We ate together, hung out and became friends again,” Bell said. “Part of the issue was everyone expected so much out of all of us because we’ve been together for so long that we were just pushing each other away. We needed to forget all of that and play for each other.”
Bell branched out athletically as a sophomore when she joined the basketball team.
She did because she wanted to enjoy another sport.
“The year of COVID, I was like, ‘Oh, people won’t be watching me so I’ll just do it for fun,’” Bell said, chuckling. “Then I actually ended up being kind of good at it.”
Volleyball, though, is her first love.
She hopes to play in college and is looking at a number of Division III schools.
“When I was younger, I didn’t think I was tall enough to be a hitter,” Bell said. “So, I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll be a passer.’ Then my coach made me a middle my seventh-grade year and I love it.”
She pauses. “But I’d still really like to be a passer.”
THE BELL FILE
NAME: Sydney Bell
SPORTS: Volleyball, basketball and softball
2021-22 HIGHLIGHTS: Was a standout middle hitter for the Panthers’ volleyball team last fall and helped Keystone to their first District 9 title in 29 years.
Q: How would you describe yourself as an athlete?
A: I am a hard-working athlete. I like to stay fit throughout the year to make sure that I put 100% into whatever sport (is going on) during the season. I like to help my teammates out as well. I am always pushing them to their fullest potential.
Q: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while playing sports?
A: To forget what happened in the past and move forward because you can’t change the past.
Q: Who is your biggest sports role model and why?
A: I’d have to say my biggest sports role model would have to be (U.S. Olympic gymnast) Simone Biles because she started out as a 6-year-old doing gymnastics and she tried her hardest every time and got to be in the Olympics. And then she also stood up for mental health and how it can affect you, even if it’s a routine thing.
Q: Have you struggled at times with mental health?
A: Yeah, I’ve struggled a bit, definitely. My junior year, some things happened. I didn’t have to step away from a sport or anything. Playing sports kind of helped me though my mental health issues.
Q: What are your biggest goals in sports?
A: Pretty much enjoy them while I can. Is it nice to have the medals and win? Yes. But it’s also fun when you win and have fun.
Q: You have a younger sister named Jerzey (cool name).
A: She’s going to be a sophomore.
Q: Are you guys pretty close?
A: Yeah, we’re pretty close. We were born two years apart, so we’ve always had that twin kind of connection, but we’re not twins.
Q: Were you born the same day two years apart?
A: Yes. July 15. It’s kind of weird, but also pretty cool.