Bellin helps Allderdice boys develop into regular playoff contender
Soccer and Sam Bellin, ironically, go hand in hand.
Bellin has had a lengthy and distinguished soccer career; first as a player, now as a coach.
He has attained hall-of-fame status on the pitch.
Bellin, head coach of the Allderdice boys soccer team, last year was inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Western Pennsylvania.
The Jewish Sports Hall Of Fame of Western Pennsylvania was founded in 1982. Per its website, it has a dual mission: To financially support Jewish related sports programs in Western Pennsylvania and Israel, and to find Jewish men and women with connections to Western Pennsylvania who have achieved a high level in athletic competition, or with prestigious careers that are closely related to the sports field, and to honor them with induction into the hall of fame.
“I was very much humbled and honored to be selected to the hall of fame,” Bellin said. “Honored to be included with some of my peers who were premier Pittsburgh athletes in the 1970's and 80's, and humbled to be in the same grouping with national sports stars such as Hank Greenberg and Randy Grossman.
“I've loved sports since I was a small boy and always dreamed of being an athlete and worked hard to try to make it come true, so it was a really special feeling to be recognized alongside all of the great athletes included in the hall.”
Bellin, 54, is in his ninth season as Allderdice's coach. Prior to 2017, he had compiled a 101-38-14 overall coaching record with two City League championships, one runner-up finish and four WPIAL playoff appearances.
He was a midfielder/defender in 1986 at the University of Georgia, following a three-year stint from 1981-83 as a midfielder at Allegheny College, where he was a two-time all-conference selection and team captain in 1983.
Bellin also was a four-year starter from 1977-80 at Allderdice, where he was named to the Eastern Select All-Star Team three times. He was team MVP, captain and scoring leader in 1978 and 1980, and netted a school-record 57 career goals (since broken by Andrew Dealy, Rafal Kolankowsky and Josh Mycoff).
“I played one year at Georgia,” said Bellin, a Scott Township resident. “I tore my ACL playing for Allegheny in 1983 and was not ready for the 1984 season. I hurt it again before the 1985 season, and ended up neither playing nor going to college either of those years. I had a teammate and friend in the local men's league who had played with the UGA assistant coach in college, and one thing led to another. My knee was healthy again by 1986, and I was ready to try something new.
“My major in college was history, but even then I thought I might like to go into coaching some day.”
Bellin was named section coach of the year in 2015 and 2016. His basic coaching philosophy: “Try your hardest and be a good representative of your school. Always remember that soccer education supports classroom education in developing mature, reliable, caring human beings.”
Allderdice captured section titles in 2015 and 2016, finishing undefeated in section play and 12-3-3 and 15-2-1 overall those two seasons.
The Dragons won WPIAL first-round decisions both years, edging Peters Township, 2-1, in 2015; and blanking North Hills, 3-0, in 2016.
“My coaching highlight was probably the playoff victory over Peters Township at Cupples Stadium in 2015, and running with the boys to mob Noah Swaby at the corner flag after he scored the overtime winner,” the soft-spoken Bellin said.
He nominated a few other highlights; one in particular and one in general:
“The hard-fought loss to Upper St. Clair in states in 2011, which really demonstrated that Allderdice soccer could match up with the best of the WPIAL,” Bellin said. “And, of course, coming to Schenley Oval every day to work with the boys; it's the journey as much as the destination.”
Allderdice has been fighting for a playoff position in Section 3-AAAA this season, along with Central Catholic, Plum and Fox Chapel.
“I think this year's team can become a quality team, hopefully a playoff team, and maybe even a (WPIAL title) contender,” Bellin said. “We lost 10 starters from last year so we started a bit slow, but have looked better (recently).”
Jesse Weisbord, a senior forward who was an all-section selection a year ago, leads the Dragons offensively with 14 goals and six assists.
Bellin said the Dragons also have “a really strong midfield,” consisting of Dylan Linstedt, Brennan Kaliszewski, Brian Woolley and Hassan Shareef; “two athletic center backs” in Mohammedi Alkhateeb and Owen Marty; and “two highly advanced freshmen” — goalkeeper Ben Martino and forward Stefano Cassara.
“We have the talent to compete once we get ourselves fully adjusted to each other,” Bellin said.
Bellin and his wife Sarah are parents of Eamonn, a senior at George Washington University, and Sammy, a senior at Chartiers Valley and a member of the Colts varsity soccer team.
Since 2012, Bellin has been owner and director of the Mighty Kicks Pittsburgh youth soccer program.
He formerly was employed from 1998 to 2005 as a sports and recreation director at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill.
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.