MINOT, N.D. - The Earnest Elite Basketball Academy was born out of Earnest Bell's goal to help kids reach the next level.
Photo Courtesy: Earnest Bell
"My parents couldn't afford any four-year college, so I had to go get a scholarship. That's why I go for these girls, as well as my boys, and everybody at the Academy. Dream hard, dream big, work hard, and then you get what you want," Bell said.
Bell works with all grade levels at his Minot gym, building team dynamics.
"We work hard we do a lot of drills, and we scrimmage... We just try to work as hard as we can. No selfish ball," said Bell's daughter Alliyah, a Jim Hill Guard/Forward.
Bell's coaching style shows in how he pushes players to get better.
"He likes to go hard on us so we get better. He pressures us so we do good, and he works with us a lot," said Ramstad Guard/Forward Eve Knutson.
"He's very hard on us, but you can tell he loves us. He just wants us to be great and pushes us because he knows that we can," said Ramstad Forward Ava Landsiedel.
"Earnest tells us constantly that we're going to be great, and we have to keep doing what we're doing to [accomplish] our dreams," said Jim Hill Guard/Forward Maggie Fricke.
The Academy's sixth grade girls team is coming off a Power 2 Play Tournament Championship in Denver, Colorado on Dec. 22. It was a total team effort; and Bell hopes the title, along with a 3rd-place finish in Minneapolis and years on top of North Dakota State Tournaments, can lead them to showcases in Las Vegas and Arizona.
"You [have to] have more than one girl to beat us. I have 10 solid girls, solid ones that we can play," Bell said.
"That will help us get our name around into bigger states... It'll open up more doors to bigger tournaments, and hopefully we can win those, too," said Landsiedel.
The Academy's players are proud to put teams from bigger areas on notice.
"People from out of state don't think we're good, I guess. Whenever we go to a big tournament, they ask where we're from... We say North Dakota and they're like 'oh, wow,'" said Knutson.
"A lot of coaches [say] 'we need to see you. You guys are so good...' [When a lot of people think] North Dakota, you don't really expect anyone to be there... When a small city like [Minot] is winning bigger tournaments, it's just like 'wow, we can play,'" said Fricke.
Bell is happy to help lead players from early varsity appearances to college basketball careers.