The Lost Season: Bell uses ConVal fall to stay ready for college soccer

  • Nikki Bell in action for ConVal at Souhegan last year. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • ConVal girls' soccer star Nikki Bell Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/25/2020 9:55:12 AM

ConVal senior Nikki Bell helped lead the Cougars into the playoffs last season. A dedicated, year-round soccer player, Bell’s ConVal career was building to this senior season, where she was expected to be one of Division II’s top players. Unfortunately, while the NHIAA left the decision to participate in interscholastic competition up to the individual school districts, ConVal did not approve anything beyond conditioning and skills-and-drills practices – a decision that Bell said made her “really sad and kind of frustrated.”

She spent the fall preparing for next year, when she’ll play soccer at Misericordia University, a Division III college program in Pennsylvania.

“I feel lucky that it’s not the end of my soccer career because I’m playing in college,” Bell said, “but I feel bad for those seniors that won’t be playing next year and their experience is ending this way.”

ConVal and Bell’s club soccer teams practiced without full gameplay this fall, enough to keep her busy and keep her skills sharp.

“Personally my goals are to stay in shape and keep my touch on the ball because I am going to play in college and I don’t want to lose anything during this time,” Bell said.

But as one of the Cougars’ senior leaders, she’d hoped for more than just personal success this fall.

“I think it’s important to make this year as fun as possible so next year the girls will come back and be excited and ready to play with each other,” Bell said.

Bell and her teammates did their best to bond, but ConVal’s school structure, which groups students into two cohorts based on where they live in the district, means that student-athletes only practice with those teammates in their same cohort, every other week.

“I think this will have a bad effect on next year,” Bell said, “because when they come together as one team, some girls will have a stronger bond and it still might feel like two teams versus one united one.”


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