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Girls Basketball: LC’s Jessica Bell wants to be in the FBI

Lake Central's JessicBell (33) soars basket first half first round sectional game against West Side Munster Ind. Wednesday February 6

Lake Central's Jessica Bell (33) soars to the basket in the first half of a first round sectional game against West Side in Munster, Ind. Wednesday February 6, 2013. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 14, 2013 6:54AM



ST. JOHN — Jessica Bell is one of the best all-around basketball players in the area. Yet, the Lake Central senior’s accomplishments on the court might actually pale in comparison to her career aspirations.

Lake Central’s forward, who will take her basketball skills to Division II Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., this fall, plans to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the future. Bell will major in ‘Intelligence Studies’ taking courses in Military Intelligence, Police Intelligence, Anti-Terrorism and Counter-Intelligence, not to mention being able to speak languages like Russian and Arabic.

“That’s the goal — FBI agent,” said Bell, who earned a 4.45 grade-point average last semester and has a 4.25 overall GPA. “I knew I wanted to work for the government, but didn’t know exactly how to get there.”

During her unofficial visit, Bell, who was originally interested in Forensic Science, was touring campus when she was told about the completion of the “Intel Building” on campus. Later, on her official visit, Bell decided to change her career path a little bit.

“I met a couple of kids who told me it was an awesome program that they loved,” she said. “It seemed like a lot more interesting path for me.”

When Bell eventually graduates, she must still complete all the requirements at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., to eventually realize her dream. A Forensics Science class she took as a junior at LC really intrigued her.

“That was one of my favorite classes,” she said. “Since my junior year, I’ve also been obsessed with the show ‘Criminal Minds.’ I love the mystery and action of it all. They’re FBI behavioral analysts. I’ve always been very interested in just what makes people do things.”

As far as first-year Indians coach Marc Urban is concerned, Bell has done a lot of things to help ease his transition into his first head coaching job.

“She’s as good of a senior as you could possibly want,” he said. “She cares about the team, the program, and doing all the right things. She’s exactly what I want an LC girls basketball player to be. Leadership-wise, she does a good job of leading by example — by how hard she works on, and off the court. If we need something, she’s not afraid to say it. I think all our girls respect her because she works so hard. They’re all willing to listen to her. I’ve been very fortunate to have someone like her.”

An unselfish player, Bell doesn’t dominate games offensively, but easily could, if the team chose to feature her.

“She does a real good job of rebounding and guarding,” Urban said. “She does a good job of kicking the ball out to our shooters when she feels a double-team coming. At times, she’s guarded by some of the best players in the area, or she’s guarding one of the best players in the area. She’s had to play against players like (Michigan City’s Keshyana) Cooper, (Merrillville’s Victoria) Gaines, and (Lowell’s Katie) Bobos. I think she’s done a really good job of taking those challenges on.”

As she prepares to lead LC into the first game of the Valparaiso Regional against Merrillville on Saturday (10 a.m.), Bell is averaging 11.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. She shoots 49.4 percent from the floor and 71 percent from the free-throw line.

“She’s a very versatile player,” Urban said. “She can post someone up, take them off the dribble, hit the outside shot. She scores in a variety of ways. She’s a really good offensive rebounder, too. I think she has a really good motor — she’s just always going.”

Bell’s motor could be in overdrive Saturday.

“I feel like this is one of the most important games we’ve played recently,” she said. “We want to show people we can play with Merrillville. I know a lot of people in the area think Merrillville will walk right through us. I feel it’s important to the future of this program, and our team, to show everybody we belong in this regional. It’s important not just to me, but for our whole program — the coaches, the players, even all the people who support us — to show we can play with these types of teams and that we can keep up with them.”

What will Bell’s legacy be when she leaves LC?

“I’ve noticed some of the younger players looking to me during the season like: ‘What should I do in this situation?’ That makes me think that I matter to them — that they look to me for answers and as a leader. I just hope I’ve had an impact on this team and the future of this team in the way I’ve acted — not just with how I’ve played. That really means more to me than anyone will ever know.”



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