Torres following in family’s footsteps at Little Flower

Bella Torres started at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy as an eighth-grader. She’s now a starter at Little Flower. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Bella Torres heard plenty of stories of how awesome her mom’s high school was.

And after spending her final years before high school at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, she was starting to get the itch to follow in mom’s footsteps.

“I liked Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, but I had friends at Catholic schools and I wanted to try them,” said Torres, who lives on the border of Tacony and Mayfair. “So I really wanted to try to go to one of them. And my mom went to Little Flower, and my cousin (Rory Bagnell) went there, so I wanted to go there.

“I live closer to St. Hubert and that would have been good but my family would have (disowned me) if I went there. They are all Little Flower. My mom, my aunts, my grandmom, my great-grandmom. They all went to Little Flower, so if I was transferring, I knew I was going there.”

She transferred early in her freshman year and after starting for Springside Chestnut Hill as an eighth-grader on the varsity team, she did the same at Little Flower.

But she didn’t start as a sophomore. In fact, she didn’t even play.

The team decided to forgo playing in the fall and scheduled a spring season, but since no other Catholic League schools moved their season, the Sentinels played only one game during the 2020-2021 school year.

During that time, Torres was playing for her club team, FC Bucks, so she was unable to play high school soccer. Turns out she didn’t miss much, but she did miss being around her friends and is happy things are back to normal.

“Last year was really tough not playing,” Torres said. “I played club soccer and they go all year, but they give you a high school season, you have to play, but they do that during the fall when everyone plays. When they switched seasons last year, I was playing club. It starts in October and goes to the summer, but it was OK because we really didn’t have a season at all.

“It was really bad for all of us, but especially the seniors. I really wanted to play with them. I loved playing with them during my freshman year, so I wanted to have another year with them. It was bad for everyone, but I felt bad for them.”

That was sad, but the good news is soccer season is here and Little Flower is back playing against Catholic League opponents this year, and the Sentinels have their sights set on winning the championship.

They have a lot of catching up to do, but the talent is there and Torres believes that could carry them a long way, possibly all the way to the title.

“It was really hard at first because there were so many new freshmen, we haven’t all played with each other, we didn’t have a year of soccer together, even the sophomores,” Torres said. “But practice is good, we practice every day and on Saturdays we do a run. Sometime six miles, sometimes four miles, we just run a lot to stay in shape. That’s something coach is very big on, so we work hard, even when we’re not playing soccer. We know that if we’re fit and in shape, we can win a lot of games.”

Coach is longtime Little Flower head Markos Pittaoulis, who had to reapply for his job during the summer after the school hired a new athletic director. It didn’t take long for the school to bring him back, but for a little while, the players were nervous.

“I don’t think anyone was going to play if he wasn’t coaching,” said Torres, whose mother played for Pittaouils during her days at the school. “He makes soccer so much fun. He is Little Flower soccer. I heard he wasn’t coaching, and then I was down the shore and I heard he was back. I was so excited. We all were. We all really wanted to play for him.”

They got their wish, now they want to win it all together.

“I think we can be really good,” Torres said. “We’re young, but the young players are really good. We (the upperclassmen) have to show them how to play Catholic League soccer, but they’re really good.”

Torres can serve as the perfect mentor.

While she’s not a captain, she is one of the players who sets the tone in practice. She’s also ready to lead the team on the field.

“I try to help everyone do better,” Torres said. “I play center mid, so I have to work with everyone. I have to work with the defense, the offense and the other center mids. I like to help everyone and work with everyone.”

She hopes that equates to a great junior season. She also has some personal business she’d like to take care of.

“I really want to figure out where I’m going to college,” said Torres, who hopes to become a teacher after college. “And I want to get more involved in school, in clubs. I think I want to be an ambassador, showing people around the school. I really love it here.

“I want to have a normal school year. I really haven’t had a whole year of high school. I want to experience that. It’s been tough for everyone, but I’m ready to go to school and have a normal year. I hope we get it this year.”