With crucial help from family and friends, Bell was able to open her club. To this day, her sister and niece both coach alongside her. Girls can begin running at Jeuness as young as age five, but regardless of age, Bell makes sure they’re still putting in all of the hard work. “Once you make that decision to be on the team, you have to be ready to do the work,” she explained. “I don’t care if you’re four or if you’re fourteen — when I look at the girls in my club, I see them all as athletes.”
Even though Bell works them hard, the girls always know they can come to her if they need to talk. “Sometimes girls need a coach, a social worker, a friend, even a mini-psychiatrist,” she said. “It’s the whole thing — growing up as a girl and going through the different stages of life – they need that support sometimes. I try to help them be the women they want to be. It’s not always easy, but the girls know they can come to me with anything.”
Friends Off The Track: Coach Bell and the Sheppard Sisters (Photo Courtesy Of Coach Jean Bell)
At her club, Bell does more than just coach young women to excel in track, she inspires and teaches them about life and responsibility, helping propel them in the right direction — college. “Being responsible is the main thing I try to teach girls. Knowing where you want to be and what you want to do with your life,” she said. Bell’s ultimate goal for them is college. “That’s what this team is about. Our hope is that they get there on an athletic scholarship, but even if they don’t, they’re still expected to get there and do well,” she said. “That’s the expectation.”
It’s pretty easy to see that Jean Bell wears a lot of hats for the girls of her Jeuness Track Club. But whether she’s coach Bell, therapist Bell, mom Bell, or friend Bell, one thing is crystal clear: she’ll always be there when they need her.