Gifted athlete tackled challenges
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Friday, February 24, 2012
2/24/12 at 4:59 AM
Concealed as she was under her helmet and pads, nothing about Carolyn Bell's appearance initially aroused the defenders' suspicions.
Her own teammates were fooled at first, too, because of her short haircut.
But by the time she had thrown her first touchdown pass or run the ball in herself, leaving would-be tacklers sprawling in her wake, it just didn't seem to matter much.
"When they realized they were playing with a girl, at first they'd be like, 'What the heck?' " said Bell's sister, Julie Blesi.
"But then when they saw how good she was, they didn't mind sharing the field with her. In fact, Carolyn was better than most of the guys on her team."
A student at Tulsa's Grimes Elementary School in the mid-1970s, Bell played quarterback for the Grimes Cowboys' eight-person football squad.
She also played receiver some, scoring a lot of touchdowns for a team that won most of its games, her sister said.
From football, she went on to basketball and tennis, which became her favorite.
"Carolyn excelled at just about every sport she ever tried," Blesi said.
Carolyn Meador Bell, whose passion for athletics led her into the field of sports massage therapy, died Sunday of cancer. She was 48.
A funeral Mass was held Thursday at St. Mary Catholic Church. Ninde Brookside Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
When she was a child, Bell started with flag football before moving up to tackle.
In the fourth grade, she was the only girl on a formerly all-boys flag football team at Whiteside Park Recreation Center.
"I'm good at football, and I'm a tomboy. I just decided I wanted to play," she told The Tulsa Tribune in 1973, adding that she didn't mind the rough stuff.
Having four older brothers probably helped.
"They pretty much toughened her up," Blesi said.
"She definitely wasn't the girly girl in the family. That was me."
Bell took her cues from Tatum O'Neal, the young Oscar-winning actress in "Paper Moon."
Bell, who idolized O'Neal, not only looked a lot like her but also could match her for sheer spunk, family members say.
After Nimitz Middle School, Bell attended Booker T. Washington High School, where she excelled as a varsity tennis player.
Tennis was a lifelong love. As an adult, she gave private lessons and continued to play herself until her recent illness.
Bell worked as a licensed sports massage therapist for nearly 30 years and most recently was on staff at the Tulsa Skin Care Institute.
She also had her own business, In the Zone. Her clients included many triathlon competitors - cyclists, runners and swimmers.
Bell also worked regularly with older people. She treated residents at Aberdeen Heights Assisted Living, where her mother lives, and also at the Montereau retirement community.
Bell was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer in August.
She was also battling heart problems, of which the family has a history, her sister said.
Bell was preceded in death by her father and two brothers.
She is survived by a son, Brady Garrett Bell; her mother, Danna Meador; two brothers, Mark Meador and Dan Meador; and one sister, Julie Blesi.
Tim Stanley 918-581-8385
Carolyn Bell: She worked as a licensed sports massage therapist for nearly 30 years and most recently was on staff at the Tulsa Skin Care Institute. She also had her own business, In the Zone. Her clients included many triathlon competitors - cyclists, runners and swimmers.