The female soccer phenom has proven herself among the top PAT kickers in the NWOC
Rex Putnam High Schools varsity football team had one of the best PAT kickers in the Northwest Oregon Conference this past fall. And, in case you hadnt noticed, shes a girl.
Bella Geist, a Putnam junior who excels as a goalkeeper in soccer, has been the Kingsmen kicker for most of the past two seasons.
When I was a freshman, one of my good friends (Joey Cardinal) was talking about football in ceramics class, Geist recalls. He said, It would be so cool if youd kick. And youd be really good at it because you can kick a soccer ball really far....
I talked with my advisor (Ryan Mitchell), who is also a football coach, and he said he thought I should give it a try.
That Christmas, Bellas father, Dean Geist, bought her a practice tee, and she started practicing.
I didnt think it was too hard, Geist says. Its different in a game though....
Last fall she got her chance to show her stuff in the Kingsmens third game of the season, a 64-34 win over Parkrose.
The regular kicker missed the first one, and I did the rest, Geist recalls. I made the next eight or nine in that game I dont remember exactly how many, but I know I didnt miss. I was 100 percent. And Ive been the kicker ever since.
Geist made 27-of-30 (90 percent) of her PAT kicks last year and 35-of-38 (92.1 percent) this fall.
Shes attempted only one field goal in a game, a 30-yarder.
It was long enough, but it was wide, she says.
Geist says shes kicked a 37-yard field goal in practice.
Geist says that making a PAT kick in a game isnt as easy as it looks: The snapper has to get off a good snap, the holder has to get the ball down, the kicker has to do his or her job, and your teammates have to block. And then theres the nerves.
In the game with Hood River [a Nov. 2 state play-in game at Hood River], we were behind 13-14 with 51 seconds left and I was super nervous, Geist recalls.
I was afraid I would lose one for the guys. My legs were shaking....
It turned out to be my best kick of the night. It went right down the middle.
Putnam ended up winning that game 20-14 in overtime.
Geist says she has had first-class snappers and holders in junior Brady Eberhart and senior Nick Parr.
Im going to miss Nick next year when hes gone, Geist said. Hes a really good holder.
Geist admits that sometimes she gets a little scared, but just a little, because she believes her teammates have her back.
Sometimes, if someone misses a block, I get a little afraid, she admits. But, if it happens and I get taken down, one tackles probably not going to hurt that much. If I got hurt, I know my teammates wouldnt be okay with that, so they dont miss a lot of blocks when Im out there.
Geist says shes not really that afraid that shell get hurt playing football, but she adds, I get nervous when its a close game.
Geist says she is happy to be a part of a football program at Putnam that appears to be making a turnaround.
Im really proud of my team, she says. One of their main goals has been to put Putnam football on the map for kids that are freshmen now, and I think were headed in the right direction.
Although Geist gets her biggest crowds on Friday nights, football is not her main sport. Shes an accomplished goalie in soccer, and she cleared 5-0 as a high jumper in track and field last spring.
In 2009 she was just one of two Oregon female soccer players named to the Olympic Development national pool in her age division.
Geist, who competes for the Oswego Southside Soccer Academy, has been named to ODP regional teams the last four years in a row.
She was the goalie for club teams that won Oregon Premier League State Cup championships in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Geist was the Northwest Oregon Conference girls soccer Player of the Year this fall and a NWOC first-team all-conference selection as a sophomore. She helped lead the Kingsmen to the state quarterfinals the past two seasons.
Geist, as a junior, has already made a verbal commitment to play NCAA Division I soccer for Oregon State University. She says shes been told that OSU will pay for four years of education.
If I red-shirt my freshman year, theyll pay for my fifth year, Geist said.
Asked if she might be interested in kicking for the Beavers football team, Geist said, Id like that. That would be really cool. But I dont think the soccer coach will let that happen.
A 3.94 student, Geist plans a career as a physical therapist.
Ive always wanted to do something related to medicine, she says.