By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)
Will Bell (B.A., ’12) was a forward on the 2010-11 and 2011-12 CSU men’s basketball team. The team went to the NCAA tournament his senior year. He remembers thinking to himself at graduation, “I love basketball. I am going to play any role in the game that I can going forward from today.” That vow has been realized in a wonderful way.
Following graduation, Bell worked as a customer representative for Otter Box, then went into banking for U.S. Bank and, later, Adams Bank & Trust in Fort Collins. He found that he really enjoyed meeting interesting people. True to his graduation-day vow, however, he also worked with youngsters training at the React Fast Basketball Academy in Fort Collins.
In January of 2019, he jumped into youth basketball training full time, including coaching traveling club basketball teams. A new organization, in partnership with React Fast Basketball Academy, had been created called State 38 Basketball. The name derives from Colorado’s admission to the Union in 1876, when it became the thirty-eighth state. Will Bell is the director of State 38 Basketball.
The organization’s website cites the reason for getting involved: “We want to equip all our players with a strong foundation of skills to build on so they grow their confidence, experience success, and grow their passion and enthusiasm for the game of basketball.”
The first tryouts were held in March, and over 300 young people participated. State 38 Basketball was able to accept 130 youngsters for 13 teams. Those who did not make the cut were given detailed explanations on what they should work on and encouraged to try out again next year. The first season, State 38 Basketball teams competed with teams in the Denver and Boulder area. This upcoming season, they will schedule some out-of-state trips, as well. A few of the tournaments they will compete in are by invitation only.
The partner organization, React Fast Basketball Academy, has changed its name to Integrity Basketball Academy. They acquired a building from Arena Sports in Windsor, which will be renamed Integrity Arena; they promote their program as one that “does things the right way.” They also will have a strength and conditioning program that is age and development appropriate.
Integrity Basketball Academy and State 38 Basketball welcome sponsorships and supporters in this endeavor to coach the next generation of basketball players. Bell’s goal? To create scholarships for State 38 Basketball students and to build the premier youth basketball program in Northern Colorado.
Bell really enjoyed his two years at CSU. It was, he says, “a great fit and a welcoming place.” He met “great people at CSU and in Fort Collins.” Does he still play basketball? Of course he does, “in pick-up games with Pierce Hornung (B.S., ’13) and members of current CSU men’s basketball coach Nico Medved’s staff.
True to his word, Will Bell is still playing a role in basketball. He is coaching Northern Colorado young people with integrity.