By Aaron Tomich/NPSL.com
Legacy is a word often used in the realm of sports. Superstars, icons and legends of each respective league around the world are often asked about their own legacy – what it is or what it could become. Each answer is different.
For Cleveland SC’s Vinny Bell, the word “legacy” has a variety of meanings. Strictly talking statistically, Bell ranks among the best soccer players in Northeast Ohio and NPSL. To date since his first season in NPSL in 2012, he has netted 80 goals. Collegiately at Case Western Reserve University, he earned multiple All-American and All-American scholar honors.
Bell also played a large role in helping AFC Cleveland win the 2016 national championship before joining Cleveland SC. A soccer resume like his is hard to come by and easy to celebrate.
“Vinny is just class all around,” said Cleveland SC president Samuel Seibert. “On the pitch, the guy is referred to as a shark by current head coach Lewis Dunne. The guy is just in a class that honestly NPSL standards of play are not worthy of.”
Equally impressive, and possibly more impactful, is Bell’s commitment to serving the city of Cleveland and surrounding Northeast Ohio communities in need through the sport of soccer. While not working a day job as a senior manager with PwC in Cleveland and also off the pitch on matchday, Bell is serving as a board member for America Scores’ local chapter.
“Mainly what we try to do is serve underserved communities when it comes to soccer, creative writing, and community service,” said Bell. “We bring soccer to areas that might not have that same access to quality coaches and quality play.”
Bell said that the organization goes into local schools to find coaches to train, organize, and run successful camps for elementary school students through middle school, along with offering these kids an outlet to express themselves through poetry, artwork, and other creative activities.
Annual events are also held to raise funds for the organization to benefit those it aims to serve.
“Vinny is committed to his community by giving his time not only on the pitch but also as a board member of America Scores,” said Seibert. “The League and Cleveland SC are lucky to have him as he could have easily moved on in years past but [Bell] loves his family, job, and his city, so he has stuck around.”
Back to soccer, Bell recognizes that his career success can be attributed to not only his individual ability, but that of his teammates and coaching staff. He continually thanks his teammates for putting him in positions to succeed and score, better helping their chances to win. Bell appreciates his coaching staff trusting his style of play, which he calls, “an unorthodox game and skill set.”
“I’m not your typical target forward,” said Bell. “It’s kind of a paradox when I play, because although I am not the fastest or most technical of players, I have good athleticism, strong vision, and decision-making skills and I feel I bring the most value to this club when I can power through opponents and make something happen out of nothing.”
As each new year, each new season pass by for Bell, he knows that his competitive days of playing soccer are near an end. What motivates him in 2021 can be seen in the different parts of his life, on and off the pitch. Bell wants to help develop the younger players on Cleveland SC through leadership and countless years of experience. That also is echoed in his desire to serve the youth of Cleveland when he helps America Scores put on weekly camps and poetry slams.
The Cleveland native is an icon in NPSL and grassroots soccer in Northeast Ohio. His legacy is diverse and wide ranging. It’s one that is selfless and giving, with the ambition to make sure things thrive when he steps away from the field.
“I just want my legacy to be ‘Hey, that guy was one of the guys to keep soccer going in the city,’” said Bell. “I want to be a part of keeping it alive in Cleveland.”
“The guy has put the team on his back several times and just keeps going without complaint,” said Seibert. “[He is a] leader, a champion, a legend.”
You can learn more about America Scores and the local Cleveland chapter here.
Photo Credit: Richard Kruszynski