WEST VIEW — Bella Alampi decided to take a break from lacrosse to focus on family.
Joe Alampi insisted she reconsider.
He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer last June, and Joe told his daughter the news before they were set to play a tournament in Maryland.
“It was really tough,” said Bella Alampi, a sophomore midfielder at Mars this past season. “I told him I wasn't going to play summer lacrosse and was going to focus on being a family.”
That didn't happen.
“I said absolutely not,” Joe Alampi said. “We're going to continue as normal.”
So they went to Maryland. Bella Alampi had a good tournament and picked up Division I interest from Virginia Tech, Lafayette and Princeton.
“It's actually funny because I was going to a summer tournament the day I found out,” she said. “My dad wanted to wait to tell us. He said we were going to live life as normal. He went to the lacrosse tournament and that's when I got scouted by one of the teams I'm talking to now.”
Bella Alampi's major switch came from when she transferred from Oakland Catholic to Mars to spend more time with her family.
Joe, who has been getting chemotherapy treatments since July, says things have gone well.
“I'm not going to say it hasn't been bad,” he said. “I'm not going to recommend it for fun.”
Lacrosse-wise, it was switching between two different worlds. The Planets competed in the WPIAL's Division II and were in their first season, while Oakland Catholic is a more established program in Division I.
Mars exceeded expectations, finishing 14-5 before losing in the WPIAL semifinals, thanks in part to Alampi, who scored a team-high 97 goals.
“She has such a drive and hard work ethic,” fellow sophomore Shannon Doyle said. “She's always an outlet, whether we get it in the back or transition it through, she's always there, transitioning through and pushing a lot.”
Finding her niche took time with Mars. At Oakland Catholic, Alampi wasn't counted on to score as much, learning under Alex Cozza, who is now a freshman at Virginia Tech.
“At Oakland Catholic, I learned how a team really worked and I didn't have the same role. I was still a major part of the team,” Alampi said. “On Mars, I learned how to put the team on my shoulders where last year at Oakland I learned how to be apart of a team on somebody else's shoulders.”
Mars coach Rich Schoeffel also felt that Alampi learned how to pass better as the season went on.
“She did well for us. ... I think honestly even though she scored 97 goals, she started distributing the ball a lot more,” Schoeffel said. “The way she grew, she started passing the ball more. She wasn't relying on just running down the field and scoring.”
Alampi laughed when describing her dad's experience with the sport. Joe was always a baseball guy and encouraged Bella to try softball.
“I've got baseball in my blood and my son has played it for his whole life,” Joe said. “Bella only played softball for one year ... but it wasn't for her.”
She started playing lacrosse in eighth grade and quickly found her niche.
“I was already pretty quick. Mars started a club lacrosse program and I decided to play,” Alampi said. “Ever since I've picked up a stick, I've loved it ever since.”