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May, 2020

Ceepo Heads to Cleveland State University after Distinguished Youth Career

Isabella Ceepo has accomplished so many things in her 12-year career with Internationals SC.  Most importantly she has grown from a promising youth player to a Division I recruit.

“Playing for the same club for 12 years has been very important to my growth as a person and a player,” Ceepo said. “Having a consistent atmosphere and working with the same players and coaches over the years has been very rewarding.  I have been able to work with many great coaches that have taught me several important lessons and have also made many friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Ceepo pointed out that both Zdravko Popovic and Keri Sarver have been instrumental in her development.

“Zdravko and Keri are the two coaches that have had the most influence on me and my career,” Ceepo said. “They both have incredible soccer knowledge and a passion for the game.  They not only focus on mastering the fundamentals but also take a lot of pride in pushing their players to be the best that they can be.  Without these things I would not be the player that I am or have the opportunity to play D1 college soccer.”

Internationals SC helped Ceepo through the recruiting process, allowing her to make the best decision for the next step of her academic and athletic career.

“The club has helped me through the recruiting process in many ways,” Ceepo said. “They held seminars 2-3 times a year that provided important information regarding the whole recruiting process and they provided us with sample letters and emails to help us reach out to college coaches.  The ISC coaches also provided me with individual guidance and spoke to college coaches on my behalf.”

Ceepo was coveted by a number of prestigious Division I programs and decided that Cleveland State University was the best fit for her moving forward. 

“I chose Cleveland State for the next step in my academic and athletic career for many reasons,” Ceepo said. “One being that I wanted to stay close to home. They have a very diverse curriculum and choices for majors and at the time I was not sure what I wanted to pursue.  When I visited the campus, I really liked the atmosphere and being close to downtown.  From a soccer perspective, the program has been steadily improving under Coach Dallas (Boyer).  His coaching philosophy and encouraging style stuck out to me most.”

Cleveland State University women’s soccer head coach Dallas Boyer is excited to see Ceepo join the Vikings. 

"Bella fits our possession-based style of play perfectly,” Boyer said. “As the ‘glue’ in the center midfield of one of the best club teams in the country with her Internationals ECNL team, she is excellent and connecting the defending group to the attacking group to create a cohesive system and helping to get all of the other players around her in situations to succeed.  So often in watching her play the last few years, she is responsible for a key pass that maybe isn't credited with the assist, but is the play that initiates her team's attack and got created the perfect situation for her teammate to attack from.  She will be able to drop in and help a back line build up to start a possession and switch the point of attack to get us from side to side like we try to execute.  The biggest growth in her game is that she's now also defending much better, both in her 1v1 defending on the ball as well as covering a larger area within the shape with her other midfielders.  With the graduations of Toni and Sydney who did similar things for us in possession last year, Bella can immediately help fill the void and keep us in our style of play very effectively."

Moving into the collegiate game should be easy for Ceepo after such success at Internationals SC. 

“The Internationals SC and Cleveland State have a very similar playing style,” Ceepo said. “Since starting at the club at age seven, the club has always stressed a possession style of play which is one of my key strengths as a center midfielder.  The Internationals has also taught me not just the physical aspects of the game but the mental aspects as well.  They have taught me the importance of teamwork, leadership, and other things like the importance of nutrition.  I think all of these aspects is what’s going to prepare me best for the next level.”

Playing in the ECNL also helped Ceepo get ready to play in college.

“The ECNL is full of great players and great competition,” Ceepo said. “The Ohio Valley Conference was one of the most challenging conferences in the league, so each game was extremely competitive.  We also played in at least three national events each season that broadened my experience nationally.  The traveling nature of the league, both regionally and nationally, helped build comradely among my team and also helped me build time management skills when it came to soccer and school.  I am extremely thankful to have played in the ECNL.”

Club and ECNL Director Keri Sarver was quick to praise Ceepo for her many accomplishments at the club.

“Seeing Bella Ceepo move on to the next phase in her soccer journey is bittersweet,” Sarver said. “She has been with us in one way or another since she was four years old!  First, hanging out on the sidelines with her older sister Taylor's team, and then moving into our foot skills program as a six-year-old to making a U9 roster as a seven-year-old and now, graduating at the top of our pyramid as part of the backbone of our U19 ECNL team.  Bella's qualities on the field will be an immediate asset to the CSU program.  Her tireless work rate, her field vision, and ability to keep possession and complete the final pass are just some of the qualities that separate Bella from other midfielders.  As her coaches, we can always rely on Bella to give 100% and be consistent day in and day out.  Her training habits and mentality make those around her better.  Off the field, Bella has always been committed to her academics, has led by example and has represented our club and her family with the utmost class and respect.  We are so happy for Bella as she moves on and cannot thank her and her family enough for what they have done for the Internationals over the past 15 years.”

The Akron, Ohio native certainly has big plans for this fall and the years ahead. 

“I am entering Cleveland State as a pre-med student with a goal of following my four years of undergrad continuing onto medical school,” Ceepo said. “I am looking forward to a good college experience and meeting knew people. My goal with soccer is to be a four-year starter, be the best teammate that I can be, win the Horizon League, and go as far as we can in the NCAA tournament.”

Internationals SC is very proud of Ceepo’s accomplishments and knows the best is yet to come for this talented midfielder. 

Photo Credit: Kim Bruni

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