After more than 25 years of coaching in Berkshire County, Mount Greylock cross-country coach Larry Bell was inducted into the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame on June 5. While Bell is deserving of the honor he received, a little push from fellow coaches Scott Burdick of Greylock and Jeanne Teasdale of Lenox was needed to get Bell to submit his application.
"I was petrified," Bell said in a phone interview with The Eagle. "That is for retired guys, not for guys still coaching. Everyone thinks I know everything, but in the back of my mind I know I don't. We all fear being judged. There are a lot more people that deserve to be in the hall than some may realize."
While Bell had some doubts the hall of fame, his coaching history speaks for itself. He was the coach of the Division II back-to-back-back state championship teams produced by Mount Greylock in the 90s.
"I had a few good years and we won a few state titles," Bell said. "It's flattering and I am really honored to be recognized as a part of the coaching fraternity because I know what all coaches give up in their lives. I've been blessed."
In 1981, Rudy Bennedetti, who was Larry's first track coach, was inducted into the MSTCA hall of fame and ironically, he was Bell's first cross-country coach.
"It was pretty cool," Larry said. "Both [Bennedetti] and I being in there together, especially with him being my first coach."
It wasn't until a PHS school trip in Bell's junior year of high school before he actually started doing track and field. A kid on the trip asked him to train with him and next thing he knew, he was on the team.
"I became a runner by accident," Bell said. "I was looking for an identity. Like any boy, I want to be good at a sport. The reason I went out for track is so I could get in shape for soccer. I hated [track]. I told the coach I was going to quit at the end of the year and he was okay with it. I went home and it was posted in The Berkshire Eagle that I was going to be a captain next year. My dad was so proud that I couldn't quit."
Bell went to college at Western Nebraska and after graduating he returned to the school and created the women's track and field and cross-country teams. In his first year coaching there, he had 12 girls and nine of them made Nationals.
"I think my career can be summed up as a fluke," Bell said jokingly. "It was incredible, I had some really good kids fall into my lap."
After about three years in college, Bell started to coach a local high school in Nebraska because teaching was his priority, while coaching was more of a hobby.
"I was a little bored just being a college coach," Bell said. "I would sit around all day waiting for them to come to practice, it became a little too important."
He then spent three years at Pittsfield and one year at Taconic before spending the past 24 years at Greylock. After one year at PHS, he became the coach of the Williams College cross-country team. He held that job while at PHS and then Taconic, but when he went to Greylock he resigned from Williams, which was the third ranked team in the country at the time.
After 20 years of coaching three sports a year, Bell still enjoys coaching, but admits that it is starting to wear him down.
"I don't have as much energy anymore," Bell said. "I come home and have to take a nap before supper. It is just an energy thing."
Not only does Bell continue to coach at Mount Greylock, but this will be his first year as an active hall of hame coach. The same hall of hame coach that helped Greylock to three of their four cross-country state titles and was on the coaching staff of four out of the five Berkshire County teams to ever win a cross-country state title.
Contact Jacob Mendel at 413-496-6250.