Bell was one of 12 female student-athletes named to the Florida High School Athletic Association’s 2017 All-State Academic Team.
There are those in the world known as Renaissance women or men — people who can do it all.
Maddy Bell fits that definition well, although she likely would never characterize herself that way. She is known in Winter Park for her versatility as an athlete, academic, musician and all-around humanitarian who volunteers her time to help others.
This year, that versatility earned her a spot on the Florida High School Athletic Association’s 2017 All-State Academic Team.
Representing Winter Park High School, the recent graduate was one of only 12 female student-athletes in the state selected for the award — which she received during the 23rd Annual Florida Dairy Farmers Academic All-State Awards Banquet in Gainesville.
And although Bell fits the award’s athletic and academic parameters perfectly, it came as a surprise — even after Athletic Director Mike Brown told her.
“They made the announcement seventh period over the school intercom, but I was actually at home, because I left early — I was sick,” Bell said. “So all these kids were texting me – they were like, ‘Hey congrats!’ And I was like, ‘What? What’s going on?’”
ON THE FIELD, IN THE POOL
In her four-year stint on the girl’s lacrosse team and the swimming team, Bell became a leader on both squads.
Playing back in the goalie position, Bell capped off her high-school lacrosse career by being named co-captain and helped take the Wildcats to a district championship — the best season she experienced during her time with the team.
Her success on the field earned her the Orlando Family Magazine’s 2017 Spring Sports Star Athlete for lacrosse.
Bell also represented Florida as a two-time goalie for the Brine National Tournament Team.
The ability to play such an important role on her team carried over from the field to the pool, where Bell was a member of the Wildcats’ swim team.
During her senior year, Bell was named co-captain and swam in the 100-meter breaststroke and 100-meter freestyle, as well as the 200-meter and 400-meter relay — for which she made states for the first time in her swim career on the individual level.
Her achievements included not only one of her best swim seasons, but also led to Bell taking home the 2016 Metro Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year for swimming.
Awards are just a sort of icing on the cake for Bell, who enjoys the small things that comes with being on a team, which includes maintaining a strong yearlong work ethic.
“I’d basically swim for the swim season (fall) and then in the spring, I would do lacrosse season, and then over the summer I’d swim club just so I would be in shape,” Bell said. “That’s just kind of how I’ve been doing it.”
It should be no surprise that such a desire to perform at the highest level does not simply stop at athletics.
Since she first picked up an instrument in the fourth grade, Bell has had a knack for music — especially as it relates to string instruments.
Bell has been playing her current instrument of choice, the cello, since middle school. The sound of the classical instrument is specifically what drew her to it, she said.
The instrument itself is just one aspect that brought Bell to music, with other factors such as self-expression and music theory playing big roles.
“It’s cool, because the whole experience is that you feel like you are actually putting forth something that comes from you,” Bell said. “You get to listen to cool pieces — talk about them and interpret them — and then the whole orchestra works together to hopefully make something that is, hopefully, beautiful.”
In her first two years, Bell participated in the concert orchestra, which featured solely one of the four traditional string instruments before spending the last two years as a member of the Park Philharmonic Orchestra. She also has performed as a member of the Chamber Concert Orchestra.
The ever-moving Bell also has become a familiar face as a volunteer for multiple organizations — including working with Habitat for Humanity in Winter Park/Maitland; acting as a team leader and organizer for BASE Camp for the Children’s Cancer Foundation; and playing a captain’s role with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
Bell became a part of the organizations through her membership in the National Honor Society.
Part of her role as NHS president was to organize a team for the club, so she roused up other students to volunteer for Relay and BASE.
Her involvement with Habitat came naturally; a friend had been the one to start up a club at the school.
After joining and helping to build a house for a local family, Bell experienced what was, for her, one of the best memories as a volunteer.
“At the dedication, when the family came up and spoke about it, I was in tears, because it was so beautiful,” Bell said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so happy for them.’ It’s just nice to help, especially when you are with a group friends — it’s just a good time and you’re helping someone in need.”
Currently, Bell is volunteering through the YMCA to help teach children how to swim in Eatonville.
After the long approval process, Bell will be moving up north to attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, where she will continue her lacrosse career while studying engineering. She fell in love with the school after attending a summer lacrosse camp up in the area.
“I remember being really impressed with the academics alone, and also it was very STEM-focused, so I liked that too,” Bell said. “So it was a learning over time — the history of the school, what the responsibilities are after you graduate, which is you have to serve for at least five years.”
After touring Princeton, Navy and the University of Pennsylvania, Bell officially committed at the end of her sophomore year.
Looking ahead, there is a lot to do, but Bell ultimately hopes to make her way to the stars as a member of an elite group.
“What I have in my head is go through the Naval Academy, become a pilot, hopefully go to the Naval Test Pilot School, and then I have this crazy dream of becoming an astronaut,” Bell said. “That’s one of my major life goals.”
Contact Troy Herring at [email protected].