Bella Pitta is no stranger to early wake up calls, long hours and hard work.
For Pitta, a senior at Lake Mills High School, a relentless dedication to her craft on the hardwood has led to a Division 1 scholarship.
Pitta, a 6-foot-3 post, signed her National Letter of Intent to play women’s basketball at Lipscomb University at LMHS recently.
“It felt really good,” Pitta said of signing to play at the Nashville-based school, where she plans to study mechanical engineering.
“I’m excited to get out there and start training. Basketball has brought me so far. It’s going to be fun in the future. Right now, I’m focused on our season ahead. I’m excited to start this season and take it one step at a time.”
Pitta wasn’t a big fan of the recruiting process, noting that it was indeed just that—a process. When she first connected with Lipscomb, which is led by head coach Lauren Sumski and associate head coach Chris Sumski—who are a husband and wife duo—things just felt right. There was an instant connection and Pitta felt right at home during her visit to campus.
“One of the things that stood out with Lipscomb is how the coaches I was recruited by talked to my mom before me,” Pitta explained. “I had no idea of that originally. Lipscomb is a faith-based school. My mom, Christina, went to a faith-based school before going to the University of Wisconsin and loved it.
“The community at Lipscomb is insane. They are so nice. I feel like the assistant coaches are my family. They have a great program—one of the best in Tennessee—for engineering.”
Lake Mills girls basketball coach Ryan Lind has only been on the job for several months. It didn’t take him long to discover what Pitta’s work ethic and attitude are like.
“Bella works very hard on everything from weight lifting to offseason training to her game,” Lind said. “There’s a reason she’s going Division 1. A lot of it has to do with her work ethic. She’s always in the gym and working on her game.
“I’ve been impressed with how she’s a good teammate and encourages others on the team and is very competitive. She’s patient with younger players. She understands the team is the biggest thing above all and wants to see the team succeed. Everyone looks up to her and she’s been a good role model for younger players too.”
Pitta, who plays on the AAU circuit for the Oconomowoc-based Wisconsin Lakers, credits former Lake Mills head coach Brandon Siska, now the head women’s basketball coach at Bryant & Stratton College, assistant coach Bobby Rose and AAU coach Mike Ellis for helping her with the recruiting process.
“I didn’t like the recruiting process because you’re showing off your skills and hoping coaches like you,” Pitta said. “The coaches at Lipscomb felt like family. You know there will be an open and inviting community.”
Lauren Sumski is in her fourth year guiding the Bisons, who play in the Atlantic Sun Conference and have been rebuilding the last several seasons. Pitta is excited to play against Lipscomb’s new talented post player—Aleah Sorrentino who transferred in this season from Ole Miss.
“Playing against Vivian Guerrero and Kayla Will, who were strong, aggressive post players, at Lake Mills has made me a better player,” Pitta said. “It’s exciting to be around people like that because they will push you every single practice.”
Lake Mills’ girls basketball team is two seasons removed from bringing home a gold ball after winning the Division 3 state championship. Pitta, who was a key reserve on the state title team, feels this year’s team has the capability to contend for another state title.
“Coach Lind preaches to work as one and work as a unit,” said Pitta, who scored five points per game as a sophomore before posting a team-high 14.4 PPG last season along with 12.3 rebounds en route to being tabbed as an honorable mention all-state performer in Division 3.
“It’s not about one. That’s helping us connect on the court. Coach Rose is the hard-nosed guy and Coach Lind is the guy with the softer approach, so their personalities mesh well.”
Pitta’s hard work has led her to this moment and will help propel her forward both this season and in the collegiate ranks.
“That grind of getting up before the sun for offseason workouts and getting your mind in the mindset of being disciplined is one of the things that’s helped me personally,” Pitta said. “Coach Rose pushes me at practice. Coach Mike has helped me stay with the game when at times I did not want to.
“Watching Jade—my older sister—play and people saying ‘Jade was going to be the better basketball player’ has helped me with my progression.”