Bella Beltran: A self-made Raider
Central Community College-Columbus signed its most recent local athlete to the new soccer program on Wednesday afternoon when Bella Beltran completed her National Letter of Intent at Columbus High.
Beltran joins fellow Discoverer senior Macee Trotta and 2018 CHS graduate and current CCC student Bailey Keller as the newest members of Jamie Bennett’s program.
The new Raiders will take to the field for the first time this upcoming fall as the first members of a team in its infancy. CCC announced the formation of women’s soccer a few months back and hired Bennett as the first coach.
Likely guiding his back line and wing will be Beltran who said a change in attitude took her from a casual player and athlete three years ago to Wednesday where she made soccer a part of her future plans.
“Freshman year, I was kind of that kid who wasn’t totally in. I kind of threw my freshman year away. I realized I had to get it together if I wanted to keep playing,” she said. “Sophomore year I really kicked it in gear, I was great in school and I was working hard all the time.
“I definitely care more now than I did my freshman year.”
Just a quick review of the statistics provide evidence of what Beltran means.
She became one of only two regular sophomores on the starting roster for a team that qualified to the state tournament for the first time in three years. Last season, Beltran was firmly entrenched in the starting lineup and helped guide the Discoverers to another state tournament.
Soccer had always been a potential means to further her education. But as a freshman she was relying more on natural ability than hard work and dedication.
Changing that mindset made all the difference. Columbus coach Luis Pulido said as much when CHS Athletic Director Dave Hiebner asked him to say a few words at the signing ceremony.
He commented on how proud he was of Beltran for becoming the type of player, and the type of person, her freshman self may not be able to recognize.
“For her, the biggest growth she’s had is, soccer she has always excelled. But I think being that student athlete, and the student piece, understanding that all parts need to come together to be successful in life, that’s where she’s grown the most,” he said after the signing.
“She not only stepped up on the field, she stepped up in the classroom.”
It’s the same personal journey Bennett witnessed that drew him to recruiting Beltran. He saw her firsthand as a player in junior high as a referee and through his involvement with the high school program.
Bennett always considered her a good player, but one that was also missing something.
“The last couple of years she’s found that and really put a lot of hard work into it and really developed into a nice player,” he said. “The ones that have to put in that extra work, there’s something special about them.
“They appreciate it more, they had to work hard to get there and they have a greater appreciation of the game and the opportunity they’re given.”
Beltran makes her biggest impact in the midfield and as a defender. She transitioned last year from midfield to the back line but has the versatility to join the rush or fill the wing when the fullbacks advance forward.
Admittedly though, she’s not a great shooter. She scored once as a sophomore and once last season, though she’ll give the credit for that one to the goalkeeper for a bad touch.
While most players prefer the glamour of offense, she’s comfortable with her role in the back, and brings with it the mentality of a stopper.
And while she’s built that reputation as a tough defender to handle, Beltran’s never quite satisfied. Something she plans to use at the next level to continue growing as a player and a person.
“I do think I’m good, but there are some days I have doubts about myself. When I am having doubts, that just makes me want to push harder,” she said. “I always have a little bit of doubt to make me want to work harder and become a better player.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com