WHS vs LHS

Longview varsity assistant Cheryl Bell, right, and head coach Chaka Jackson watch warm ups before a Sept. 4, 2018 game against Whitehouse.

Cheryl Bell won more than 400 games as a volleyball coach, but her legacy goes beyond more than wins and losses on the court.

“The first thing that comes to mind about coach Bell is faith and family,” said Longview volleyball coach Chaka Jackson, who played for Bell coached under her as an assistant at Hallsville High School.

Bell died on Thursday due to complications from COVID-19, which she had battled since August. She was 53.

“She loved her family, the game and her athletes so much, but the love she had for Christ was so passionate,” Jackson said. “Coach Bell was so special to everyone she came in contact with, and was a faithful servant. She had a fire in her spirit that would make anyone want to be the best they could be. She taught and instilled how to be successful on and off the court. She taught the life lessons that will never be forgotten. She will be remembered by her passion and dedication to every athlete and every team she coached.”

Bell was head volleyball coach at Hallsville from 1994-2011, compiling a 446-186 record. Her teams averaged nearly 31 wins per season from 2007-2011.

She retired to spend more time with her family, but spent the last three seasons as an assistant volleyball coach at Longview High School under Jackson.

Bell attended Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Arkansas from 1985-89, earning a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science/All Level. She later earned her master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Lamar University.

Darby Graff, who played for Bell, signed with Texas A&M out of high school and is currently head volleyball coach at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, said she often turned to Bell for advice in high school, college and her professional life.

“When I think of coach Bell, I think of this energetic, loving, encouraging, God-fearing woman,” Graff said. “She taught us so much more than volleyball. She taught us how to be confident in ourselves on and off the court, an she instilled qualities in all of us I know for sure I use today – hard work, dedication, discipline, humbleness, how to overcome adversity and to learn in wins and losses.”

“She was one of the first people I called when I got my first coaching job at ETBU, and I called her multiple times for ‘’what would coach Bell do’ advice over the last few years. Her guidance, caring heart and even tough love at times made me the player and coach I am today. She touched so many lives and will for sure be missed. I hope I can impact even half the lives that she has touched.”

Facebook posts poured in about Bell from former rivals, bosses and co-workers on Friday.

“Such a tough competitor. Always had her kids at the top of the game. She was also a sweet soul and had a wonderful smile. She loved the Lord and her family. Well done my good and faithful servant.” – Candee Collins, former Pine Tree coach

“I was so sad to hear this news. What an awesome person. Cheryl was an amazing example of how a coach can make a major impact in a young person’s life as she did so many times. She will be terribly missed, and her legacy will continue in all of her students and athletes.” – Scott Mitchell, Hallsville baseball coach

“I loved coach Bell. She was a solid leader for our young Ladycats in Hallsville. She coached my daughter, and my daughter admired Cheryl. Coach Bell was the true definition of Ladycat Pride, Purple and Hallsville. The world has lost a fine, outstanding, loving individual, but God has gained a true Christian warrior.” – Roger Adams, former Hallsville ISD head football coach and athletic director

Services are pending for Bell.

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Follow Jack Stallard on Twitter: @lnjsports

Sports editor

I've covered sports in East Texas since 1987, starting as a 21-year-old sports editor at the Kilgore News Herald before spending seven years at the Lufkin Daily News and the past 23 years at the Longview News-Journal.