Graduating from high school is quite a milestone day in anyone’s young life.
What better day than that to make a major decision on your immediate educational and athletic future.
Bella Moore-Reel, the Region 4-AA Player of the Year for girls soccer from Putnam County High, signed to play collegiately with nearby Georgia Military College in Milledgeville.
She received her diploma on the evening of June 11, but unlike most of her fellow graduates who had nothing more on their minds than counting down the hours before the start of the ceremony, Moore-Reel was on the road that morning with her full gear on. GMC was staging a tryout, and it was a fruitful one for the former Lady War Eagle.
Brandi Barling, head coach for Putnam girls soccer, said her center midfielder was the “heartbeat of the midfield. She controlled the flow of the game from forward to back.”
Moore-Reel played two seasons for Putnam County after transferring from Gatewood. Her first season, however, was cut off right at the cuff of the state playoffs when schools closed due to COVID-19.
“I didn’t get to see her true potential last year,” said Barling.
But in returning for the spring of 2021, Moore-Reel achieved co-Most Valuable Player status for the Lady War Eagles by notching a team-leading amount of assists with just a minimal amount of scoring herself (four to five goals, according to Barling). Behind her efforts, Putnam County went unbeaten in Region 4-AA and reached the state’s Elite 8 round.
“The team was young,” said Barling, adding that any of Moore-Reel’s teammates would attest that it was this senior’s determination and desire to win that pushed the group that far in the postseason. “She willed them to be better … very strong personality. She would instruct them on where to be and backed them up.”
In Moore-Reel’s own game, Barling said she had an uncanny ability to “transport herself at the speed of light. One minute she’s clearing the ball out, and the next she’s taking a shot at the other end. She was a never-ending source of energy.”
And Moore-Reel carried that energy to the June 11 GMC tryout, where after getting all “hot and sweaty” she received an offer to join the Bulldog team. GMC, which has a two-year athletic program, played its 2020-21 soccer season in the spring and went 6-3-1.
In school, Moore-Reel plans to study criminal justice. For the returning Putnam County players, her advice is, “Follow your heart and to always know your purpose on and off that field.”