Double duty for Thorns goalkeeper, Rex Putnam soccer coach Bella Bixby
MILWAUKIE, Ore. (KPTV) - Playing for a state title and a National Women’s Soccer League title, Portland Thorns star goalkeeper Bella Bixby is a familiar name around Oregon - first starring at Rex Putnam High School, then Oregon State, on to the Thorns and back to her alma mater as head coach of the Kingsmen.
“Soccer is a big part of my life, but it is fun to go and help these kids fall in love with the sport,” Bella said.
The Thorns goalkeeper is a proud Rex Putnam grad, so too is her high school and college sweetheart, husband and assistant coach Elliot Bixby.
“This has been her dream for a very long time,” Elliot said.
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Elliot and Bella are from the Kingsmen Class of 2014, OSU Beavers grads four years later, and fast-forward to this magical fall where Rex Putnam is a top 10 club in the 5A rankings.
“It’s definitely tough but having Elliot help me is good because we travel here and there, but you know when I am home, I have training in the morning and then I have high school in the evening,” Bella said.
The Bixby’s have been running the program back in their old stomping grounds for the past two seasons.
“Towards my senior year, that is when I was kind of falling out of love with soccer if you will, I was still obviously very much involved with soccer just because of Bella and everything that she does, but honestly this group of girls really kind of rejuvenated my enjoyment and my love for the sport,” Elliot said.
“Having them step in was a better fit for most of the girls on the team, everyone felt more comfortable,” said Ariana Barney, junior at Rex Putnam.
Ariana is a holding midfield for Rex Putnam and her club team, the Washington Timbers. She is one of the standouts during the resurgence of the program under the good vibes only with the Bixby’s.
“They bring more encouragement, I would say, than the last few years, they keep things more positive, and they run the practice more smoothly and everyone listens very intently because it’s kind of cool having a Thorns player as your coach,” Ariana said.
“She has just been really consistent and patient with us and just keeps pushing us to be our best, because they know we can be our best and we can be probably one of the best teams in the state,” said Hailey Patlán, junior goalkeeper at Rex Putnam.
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Thorns Academy goalie Hailey is pulling double-duty in net for fútbol and kicking for Kingsmen football, just like Coach Bella did nearly a decade ago.
“She also teaches outside of soccer, just like life stuff! Learning how to be a better person and it’s just more than soccer but even then, soccer is life,” Hailey said.
While Bella was away for duty on Senior Night for the eight-member Class of 2023, coach will be back for the playoff run perhaps with some new hardware of her own to bring back home to Milwaukie.
Best of luck to RPHS in the playoffs which begin on Wednesday and to Bella and the Thorns out in Washington D.C. for the NWSL Championship.
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