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Longtime Gainesville resident, basketball official to join Women's Basketball Hall of Fame
Sally Bell called about 7,000 games in her 33-year career
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After a call on one of his players, Louisiana-Lafayette's co-head coach J. Kelley Hall, right, has a word with referee Sally Bell, left, during the second half of a 2006 game in Baton Rouge, La. - photo by Bill Feig

Sally Bell has gotten a taste of everything women’s basketball has to offer as an official.

Fifteen Final Fours, the Summer Olympic Games and eight seasons calling games in the WNBA were part of the career for the longtime resident of Gainesville, who now lives in Dahlonega.

Over the course off 33 years, she officiated more than 7,000 games — the bulk of those at the college level.

On Sunday, her name was announced to the nation during the ESPN2 broadcast of the Maryland vs. Michigan State women’s game as one of six new members for 2017 to be enshrined in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Bell is the only official who is part of the 2017 Hall of Fame Class and joins a group of only four others who called women’s games on the court to be enshrined.

She’ll be honored with the other members of the 2017 class during the Women’s Final Four in Dallas, then be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on June 10 in Knoxville, Tenn. The new class pushes the total of members to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame to 157, according to the NCAA website.

“I’m just so honored and humbled to join the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame,” Bell said from her home Monday.

Even though her 33 years actively calling games came to an end 10 years ago, she said she’s now busier than ever serving in the rule of coordinating approximately 250 officials for six major college conferences for women’s basketball: SEC, Sun Belt, Southland, SWAC, Atlantic Sun and Ohio Valley Conference.

Her roles now range from hiring, training, mentoring and firing officials.

“I still love getting to train, mentor and help younger officials learning the game,” Bell added.

Bell credits her own mentor, a man by the name of Cecil Huff who was in Northeast Georgia Mountains officials 40 years ago, for forging her interest in the officiating side of basketball.

She also credits legendary former Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt, who died in 2016, for making a huge footprint on her career from the time they first met at an AAU tournament.

“I always had such great respect for Pat Summitt,” Bell said.

Other members of the 2017 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class include former WNBA All-Star and Olympic gold Medalist Sheryl Swoopes, former pro player and Olympic gold medalist Kara Wolters, Middle Tennessee coach Rick Insell, and founder of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Christine Grant.

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