Aug. 22nd Outstanding Student Athlete: Penn's Kari Bellville
We know Kari Bellville as the top junior golfer in the state of Indiana, and as a Top 25 junior nationally. But as it turns out, Bellville is almost as good with her feet as she is with a four-iron.
"It keeps me sane, that's what I say," Bellville explained. "I love the game."
"She's always fresh when she comes out to the soccer field," said Penn head soccer coach Jeff Hart. "She's excited to be out here."
The Penn senior travels coast-to-coast throughout the year to play in the top junior golf tournaments. But her schedule gets even more hectic in the fall, where she is a four-year varsity player for the Kingsmen in both golf and soccer.
"Come to practice in the morning and then I go play 18 holes in the afternoon," said Bellville. "Or flip-flop it."
"It's a rare kid that wants to make that type of commitment," Hart said. "She's also a 4.0 [GPA] student. We'll do whatever we can to help her out within the scheme of our team."
On the links, she led Penn to wins in its first eight invitationals.
"Golf, very mind, mental," Bellville says of the differences between her two sports. "You have to be calm and collect with yourself."
"Certainly never panics in soccer," said Hart. "A lot of kids under pressure will panic with a soccer ball, she does not do that."
On the pitch, she is an attacking midfielder and captain for the Kingsmen.
"You get to shove people, and it's literally the best part," said Bellville, who has been a full-time starter since her junior year. "You get to be physical. You get to be with teammates, where golf is more an individual sport."
"She's a very physical player and that's because she works so hard in the weight room and in fitness," Hart said. "She brings that physical play to the field. She doesn't back down from anything."
Next year, she will be on scholarship for the Notre Dame golf team, meaning she appreciates this final season of soccer even more.
"There's a reason I didn't choose to quit when I came to high school," Bellville said. "It's a part of me and it's an amazing sport."