SCOTTSDALE- Saguaro High School volleyball players were prepared to see a positive outcome in their game against Seton Catholic Preparatory School last Thursday after having won the first two games of the season.
For most people growing up, you are familiar with the sound of rain and never question what it might be, but for Bella Valdez, senior setter at Scottsdale Saguaro High School, her experience was different.
At the age of 5, Valdez failed her kindergarten-hearing exam, causing her to be taken to a doctor where she learned she was hearing impaired.
“The first day she got her hearing aids it was raining, and she goes, ‘“what is that,’”” mother Cheryl Valdez said. “It was raining on the car.”
When Bella was younger she used to grab her families faces and look at them but what her family never knew why she did this. When grabbing their faces Bella was actually reading their lips the whole time.
“We just thought it was cute,” Valdez’s mother said. “We never knew she was reading lips.,”
Valdez’s mother said. Bella is proficient in reading lips now and uses it as an easier way to communicate with people and understand them better.
“Sometimes she’s just staring at you smiling, but it’s because she didn’t hear what you were saying or asking her,” Cheryl said. “She’s not being rude.”
Bella has been involved in volleyball throughout school since junior high school and has never let her hearing impairment keep her from pursuing it.
Her seventh and eighth grade year Bella was coached by her brother who she considers her best friend and someone she looks up to.
“He’s struggled and to see him get back up and to see where he is now just motivates me,” Bella said.
“Its not your usual brother- sister relationship,” Bella’s father, Andy Valdez, said. “They’re literally best friends.,”
When asked who she looked up to the most, Bella’s response was her father. Bella’s
father also coached her when she was younger and was a big impact on her passion for volleyball.
“My dad was always there to push me to be better,” she said. “I always have him to go to and always have him in my head and think what would my dad think.,”
Bella went on to play high school volleyball all four years. Bella played on Saguaro’s volleyball team as its setter with a great senior season with a record of 13-5.
Bella was just named MVP for the Saguaro team at the end of this season. Saguaro made it to state this year but was defeated in the first round at Tucson Canyon
Having a hearing impairment has affected Bella in the little ways on the court. When on the court it is difficult to hear her coach on the sidelines or teammates on the floor but tries her best to communicate with her teammates.
“The hardest thing is miscommunication,” Bella said.
Bella wears her hearing aids as much as possible so she is able to hear more things and be able to perform to her best ability.
Bella has participated in club volleyball throughout her high school career. She played on the Club Arizona Storm club team her freshman year and junior year and
played on the Revolution club team her sophomore year after her coach switched different teams.
This year Bella will continue with club volleyball as she has been chosen to play on the 18s LiveWire club team.
Due to an injury her junior year, Bella was unable to play for Saguaro’s team but was still active in the team and support throughout the year. Bella had a micro fracture surgery, leaving her to miss out her junior year where colleges tend to look at players for scouting. Bella has been positive and came back stronger with a bigger passion for the sport.
Every year, 7 girls are chosen for all-city team, and this year Valdez has been was chosen as one of them. Bella has worked very hard during her seasons on the Saguaro team and hopes to continue her career throughout college.
She is undecided on where she would like to go to college yet but has been looking
at Scottsdale Community College, Glendale and South Mountain. These are the schools that have expressed interest in her playing on the school’s volleyball team.
Bella plans on going to school for teaching and is excited about her path and pursuing a career in elementary or junior high school for teaching. She has also expressed some interest in helping with the special education department.
“Middle school classes were merged with the special education classes, and I would
always help them,” Bella said.
“The kids always just seem to attract to her and she does so well with them,” Bella’s father said.
In junior high, Bella helped and played with some of the special education kids and made some great friendships throughout.
Bella has overcome a lot during her time in high school and is excited to start her journey through college, but right now she is focusing on graduating high school and enjoying her senior year. Bella will be making her college decision within the next couple months as she waits to hear offers for scholarships and positions from the schools.