New Zealand’s Bell leads Flashes

Jeremy Juhasz

Sophomore paces field hockey team in shots and goals

Sophomore Debbie Bell leads the field hockey team with seven goals. Rachel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Debbie Bell, a New Zealand native, never thought she would play field hockey for Kent State.

Now, after collecting Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year honors in 2008 and currently leading the Flashes in shots (43) and goals (7), the sophomore from Hamilton, New Zealand has been a diamond-in-the-rough addition to the program.

Kent State actually recruited Bell’s high school teammate, and current Flash, Carla Johl, first.

Bell by the numbers


Games started: 7

Goals: 7

Game-winning goals: 2

Assists: 2

Shots: 43


Games started: 15

Goals: 21

Game-winning goals: 7

Assists: 4

Shots: 85

“Initially, her high school friend Carla Johl. committed to come here. So we had been in contact with her, and we had been looking for some other players,” Kent State coach Kathleen Schanne said. “Carla actually put us in contact with Debbie.”

“I followed another girl over to our team – Carla,” Bell said. “She got recruited. She helped me get in. I was kind of lucky.”

Bell posted staggering numbers as a freshman, recording 85 shots and 21 goals to earn All-MAC First Team honors.

“She’s a definite key to our team,” senior captain Laurie Wilkins said. “She brings positive energy and just mixes it up every day. I think it’s nice to play with someone like that because you always want to . be competitive with them.”

Her teammates call her “Doof,” a nickname her father gave her. While Bell likes to think her nickname reflects her playful personality, it actually originated from her middle name, Ruth. Her dad called her Ruby Doof, and from then on, Ruby was dropped and Doof stuck.

Bell’s nickname and outgoing personality doesn’t coincide with her aggressive style of play. She considers herself a player with relentless will.

“I’d say my play is pretty aggressive,” Bell said. “It’s a little more aggressive than American hockey. I would say that I’m hungry on the field, and that’s why I have a higher shot range.”

But her play isn’t all about tearing up the field. Bell is a quick learner and studies the game.

“I think her knack is finishing,” Schanne said, “But, she’s also a student of the game. She’s a very smart hockey player.”

Bell said her sophomore campaign has been somewhat easier than her freshman season.

“I think confidence within the team and knowing the girls – it makes it a lot easier,” Bell said. “Returning after what we did last year, it’s just exciting. It’s just a lot more comfortable.”

Home is far away, and Bell knows it.

“Yeah, I guess I miss home,” Bell said. “But being that far away, you don’t think about home too much because it’s just not suitable.”

While her family visited campus earlier this season to watch her play, Bell still relies on the team to be her family away from home.

“My team is my family and my friends, because I don’t know anyone else in America,” Bell said. “It’s great that I have a great team.”

Bell credited her teammates for her early career success. After achieving so much in such a short amount of time, Bell has a promising future, Schanne said.

“She’s a good communicator on the field,” Schanne said, “and I think she’s got a bright future ahead of her.”

Contact sports correspondent Jeremy Juhasz at [email protected].