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    2016 Semper Fi Bowl: West Coast Coach Works to Make a Difference



    Story by Lance Cpl. Shaehmus Sawyer 

    Marine Corps Recruiting Command           

    GARDEN GROVE, Calif. - As a proud father of a daughter and a husband to a great wife, there is one man who feels that football is not the definition of who he is, but rather a part of who he is. With more than 20 years’ experience as a football coach, Steve Belles works to make a difference in the kids he coaches.

    Belles, from Phoenix, Arizona, and head coach of the Hamilton High School football team in Chandler since 2006, was recently selected to serve as head coach for the West Coast team at the fifth annual Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. This was the third time he was selected to coach for the Marine Corps-sponsored event.

    The 2016 SFAAB selected approximately 100 of the nation’s best coaches and football players who have demonstrated success both on and off the field. During the weeklong event, the athletes worked with Marines and coaches to strengthen skills, such as leadership, teamwork and responsibility.

    “I love the game of football,” said Belles. “I think it goes along the same views as the Marine Corps where there is honor, courage and commitment. All of that plays into it at a different level, but it falls hand-in-hand in terms of life lessons that you’ll need for your future and makes you a better person overall.”

    Belles stands approximately 6 feet 3 inches tall and speaks with humble confidence. He is here to see the growth of the athletes and to take back with him the lessons shared by Marines to his Hamilton team, who have won five state championships in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, and three runner-up finishes in 2011, 2013 and 2014. His team has also earned regional championships for seven out of the nine seasons he’s coached.

    Belles earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Economics at the University of Notre Dame, where he played football as a quarterback, wide receiver and running back. He said his psychology degree helps in his career as a football coach, where he finds many intrinsic rewards, like seeing the growth of his athletes. On another side, he is disappointed to see the young men who "fall by the wayside."

    “It’s those kids where you feel like you’ve tried everything, but you just can’t reach them, and that’s where it gets frustrating,” said Belles. “As coaches, we are sometimes the father figure, and I’m not sure if it’s the same with drill instructors, but I think when it’s all over that probably comes into play. Drill instructors make sure you have somebody’s back in war. While they’re out there in battle, it’s just like when we’re on the field, I’m the coach and you’re the player, but afterwards we put our arms around kids and tell them ‘there is always tomorrow.’”

    Despite a coaching record that equates to an 80 percent winning rate in the past three seasons he has coached, Belles credits the football players, current and past assistant coaches and mentors, like Marines at the SFAAB, to his success.

    “I think for one, the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl gives the athletes discipline, which they may have never had,” said Belles. “(The players have) always been the best where they’re from and they’re coming into an environment where everybody is just as good as the other. They have to raise their level of play, so it comes down to the details of the game. These coaches and Marines alike are instilling those details in them, while providing another view of the world where it’s no longer about ‘you,’ it’s about ‘us.’”

    Belles served as head coach of the West Coast team in 2012 and won the inaugural SFAAB with a score of 17-14. His first experience in the SFAAB was one to stay with him through the next two years, where he took his Hamilton football team to runner-up finishes for the state championship.

    ”It’s an honor to be here, and it has exceeded my expectations,” said Belles. “I have been to three major bowl games for high school, and this is the one by far that the group that sponsors it is really involved, which I’m talking about the Marines and how they handle themselves. I think this experience for the kids is second to none, but also a great experience for the coaches.”

    The 2016 SFAAB will be held at the Stubhub Center in Carson, California, and will broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 at 6 p.m. PST.

    For more updates, please visit https://m.facebook.com/SemperFidelisFootball or



    Date Taken: 01.02.2016
    Date Posted: 01.02.2016 16:04
    Story ID: 185572
    Location: GARDEN GROVE, CA, US 
    Hometown: PHOENIX, AZ, US

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