July 5, 2012
By John Hirn
Ram Alumni Athletes Association
From 1985 to 1988, the CSU volleyball team played 509 sets winning one High Country Athletic Conference championship, competed in the NCAA tournament all four years and amassed a record of 102-39 under head coach Rich Feller. During that stretch, Cindy Cox-Bellin played in 496 matches, missing only 13 of the Rams’ 509 sets to become the all-time leader in matches played by any CSU volleyball player; a record still not broken.
This “Iron Woman” of Rams Volleyball came to Fort Collins from Cerritos, California in 1985 passing up schools like Illinois State and Cal State Northridge to play at Colorado State University. She joined a group of the greatest volleyball players in school history. Legends like Sheri Danielson, Angie Knox and Diane Saba to form a team chemistry that dominated the court at Moby and won the conference championship in her freshman year.
Cox-Bellin thought back to her favorite memory from her freshman year when she first played with Sheri Danielson. “I had only heard about her (and she was like a legend). Sheri was playing in Japan for the Pan Am Games and she missed two a days and the start of pre season. I was starting in my first home match against UCLA and all of a sudden the crowd erupted, I look over and here comes a player pulling a jersey over her head and running onto the court. It was Sheri Danielson who went right from the airport to Moby. Rich stood up and motioned for a sub, looked at me and said set Sheri. I was terrified but with the first pass I set Sheri and she put it away for a kill. She then ran over to me, introduced herself, told me good job then kindly instructed me to set the ball a little higher.”
Cox-Bellin also played with other teammates like Chris Donohue, Traci Bartalo, Cindy Nelson, Stephanie Montgomery, Melissa McNally, Jill Johnson, Shelia Quillan, Lynn Jameson, Pattie Hanrahan and Jo Haas. But it was her head coach, Rich Feller that guided the team during one of the most successful times in Rams Volleyball history.
More than 20 years later, Cox-Bellin remembered what Feller meant to the team, “Rich was a great coach and now friend. He ran a quick offense, which I preferred, and wasn’t afraid to change things up if needed. There’s a lot of strategy that goes into every game. Each team had their own strengths and weaknesses and Rich was good at preparing us for our opponent. Rich was even tempered, not too high spirited or too laid back.”
Her assistant coaches also played a key influence on her team and the early success of volleyball in the old HCAC. Cox-Bellin remembered two of those assistants, “Kathy Tye my freshman year was our assistant coach, she worked with me a lot and had such a positive attitude. Jim Huffman was our assistant coach the next three years; he was hilarious and brought a lot of energy to our team.”
Cindy Cox, as she was known for the first three years of her career at CSU, married Chris Bellin in her senior year and changed her name to Cindy Cox-Bellin for the 1988 season. Although nothing really changed except her name she said, “I had to promise Rich that I wouldn’t get pregnant though.”
Besides playing in all but 13 of the Rams Volleyball sets over a four-year stretch, Cindy Cox-Bellin was named to the HCAC all-conference second team in her first three years and in her senior season was finally named to the first-team all-conference. She also received All-District six honors in 1987 and 1988.
The other impressive record of Cindy Cox-Bellin is her career assists, which 24 years after her last game in a CSU uniform remains as the leader in that category. With 6,340 career assists she is 467 ahead of the next closest Ram in the school record books. Her career 12.78 assists per set also remains a school record. She led the nation in assists per game in 1987 and during her four years at CSU she ranked nationally in the top-20 each season in assists per game. At the end of the 1988 season, her career assists broke the NCAA Division I record for most by any single player according to the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
After graduation, Cox-Bellin had a brief career in coaching with Cal State Fullerton where former CSU assistant Jim Huffman had taken over. That only lasted one year and then she tried her hand at some co-ed leagues, but decided on raising her four children. She said, “I spent the first 15 years or so raising my four beautiful children; I now work as a finance manager at The Armstrong Hotel in Fort Collins. I am currently training for the Horsetooth Half Marathon.”
Cindy still attends as many Rams Volleyball games, CSU football and CSU Men’s and Women’s basketball games as she can every year. Her oldest daughter is currently a CSU student and she has another daughter at the University of Northern Colorado who plays on the soccer team. She continues to coach youth volleyball camps and remains in contact with her former teammates, Coach Feller and current Rams coach Tom Hilbert.
Cindy Cox-Bellin was inducted into the CSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002 and remains as one of the greatest volleyball players in school history. Her “Iron Woman” status remains an amazing feat and her career one that any current of future Rams Volleyball student-athlete can look up to for many years to come.