The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

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Five Goals for Almendarez’s First Season

Isabel Almendarez set five crucial goals for her first year as USAO’s head volleyball coach
Laura Barrios Bardi
Coach Isabel Almendarez supervises a pre-season practice in the Drover Fieldhouse as her daughter, Esmee Bella Ramos makes a prediction of what the team’s standing will be this season.

As pre-season for fall sports begins to ramp up, USAO’s volleyball team will support several new faces, including Head Coach Isabel Almendarez, better known as Coach Bell. The team will feature a mix of experience as the roster currently has 12 new commits, eight transfers, seven returning players, and four freshmen.

Coach Bell said the team has an abundance of talent – both returning and new – and court time will be determined based on pre-season evaluations. She said her pre-season workouts are intentional and meant to build a routine for the program.

The volleyball program has seen a few different head coaches in recent years, and supported their best season in program history in the 2021-2022 school year. The team boasted a 14-17 overall record, with a 6-14 Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) record. Coach Bell is looking to improve on that, as one of her goals for the upcoming season is to finish in the top five of the SAC.

“My competitive nature, determination approach, and passion for the teams and student-athletes success, both on and off the court. Also, my previous program is evidence to building a great program,” Coach Bell said on the experience she is bringing to the team.

Other goals for the year include establishing a team culture, which Coach Bell is cultivating through Drover Check-Ins, which are various meeting styles meant to allow her and the team to bond over the summer. From one-on-ones, small groups, team meetings and activities the players and Coach Bell have started building their relationships.

While strengthening her players for the court is an obvious goal, Coach Bell focuses intently on her players’ performances in the classroom as well. Her third goal for the season is for the team to maintain an overall GPA of 3.30 or higher.

“I create a holistic environment where I navigate my student-athletes through their mistakes. I help them identify and challenge their problem-solving skills which empowers them to become better people in all aspects of their lives,” Coach Bell said.

Continuing to look off the court, Coach Bell wants her players to be involved on campus and in the community of Chickasha. Her fourth goal is for the team to volunteer, attend campus events, and community events. While Coach Bell is new to the area, she said she is learning about the different opportunities her team has to serve the needs of the community.

Her final goal for this season is to fundraise for the team; The team’s goal is to raise $25,000 for the year. The first fundraising event was over the summer as the team sold volleyball merch throughout the month of June. The event was frequently posted about on the team’s Instagram page (@usao_volleyball). Throughout the summer, the team also hosted several different skills camps, including four camps and one “Drover Come & Play” night.

Prior to accepting her position at USAO, Coach Bell coached at collegiate and club levels. Drover Athletics said her most notable position was as at Dallas College Cedar Valley, where she served as the senior head women’s volleyball coach from 2015-2022.

“USAO is unique, warm, welcoming and has a family culture which I believe was a great fit for me, especially that my family and career are very blended,” Coach Bell said. “USAO volleyball has the potential to be a great program in the Sooner Athletics Conference.”

Coach Bell is married to her husband, Cesar, and together they have an 18 year-old-son named Nathaniel, a five year-old son named Tobias, and a two-year-old daughter named Esmee Bella.

Coach Bell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in liberal studies from Texas Wesleyan University, and is currently working on her Master of Science in kinesiology from Tarleton State University.

USAO’s volleyball team will take the court, according to Drover Athletics, Tuesday, Aug. 22 at 3 p.m. against Friends University in the Drover Fieldhouse.


Emily Loughridge is a third-year communication major at the Unoversity of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

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About the Contributors
Emily Loughridge, Editor-in-Chief
Emily is a third-year communication major from Union City. Emily is obtaining a minor in psychology, as well. She has been on staff for The Trend since the fall of 2021 and loves working with the writers on ideas! Emily also works in the Sports Information Department on campus as the Student Assistant, where she takes photos of the various athletic events and assists with the live broadcast. When she isn't studying or working, Emily can normally be found watching Scrubs, Reba, or How I Met Your Mother and enjoying ice cream on the couch with her boyfriend.   Experience with The Trend: Editor-in-Chief: Dec. 2022 - present Managing Editor: May 2022 - Nov. 2022 Contributing Writer: Aug. 2021 - April 2022
Laura Barrios Bardi, Contributing Photographer
Laura Barrios Bardi a third-year art major from El Paso, TX. Laura currently works for USAO's Sports Information Department as a photographer. She is also a member of USAO's track and field team. Her hobbies include stargazing, spending time with friends, and working towards elevating her photography skills.   Experience with The Trend: Contributing Photographer: Nov. 2022 - present