Bellamy And Nash To Return

Midfielder Jesse Bellamy, left, and keeper Brynn Nash, right, have committed to return to the REDS women's soccer team in 2022 for their fifth and final seasons of U SPORTS eligibility. (FILE PHOTOS: Kevin Barrett/for UNB Athletics)
Midfielder Jesse Bellamy, left, and keeper Brynn Nash, right, have committed to return to the REDS women's soccer team in 2022 for their fifth and final seasons of U SPORTS eligibility. (FILE PHOTOS: Kevin Barrett/for UNB Athletics)

(FREDERICTON, NB) It’s been a bit of a running joke since mid-November.

“If you come back, I’ll come back,” they’d say to each other, one never completely sure if the other was serious.

In the end though, the joke became a self-fulfilling prophecy for Jesse Bellamy and Brynn Nash.

The veteran members of the UNB REDS women’s soccer team will return, together, to play their fifth and final seasons of U SPORTS eligibility in 2022.

“There was a continuous running joke of “if you come back, I’ll come back,” confirmed Bellamy. “But we both respected whatever choice the other was going to make. If Brynn had chosen not to come back, I would have been happy for her and excited for her next phase in life. For my own selfish reasons, I was hoping she would decide to return so that we could spend a few more months living in the same city and playing together. Now that we’ve both decided to come back, I’m excited to be teammates and compete together for one more season.”

“We always bounced the thought of playing another year off each other, but respected the ultimate decision each of us would make,” said Nash. “Part of me knew that playing another season with Jess would be worth it, and it's hard to imagine her not in my immediate life after being by her side for five years.”

Nash, a keeper, and Bellamy, a midfielder, then unknown to each other, arrived at UNB as members of the recruiting class of 2017.

Together, they’ve developed into formidable talents and respected leaders.

Together, they seen the highs and lows of Atlantic University Sport soccer.

They’ve been part of teams that have staged playoff upsets and they’ve been part of teams that have failed to qualify for post-season play.

And they both, like so many other student-athletes, lost a year of competition to the pandemic.

“Besides the on-field performances and results, the effects of the pandemic were still limiting things and not having a home field was upsetting. In general, many contributing factors made the season feel unfulfilling,” said Nash.

In 2021, the REDS went 4-5-3 and just missed making the AUS playoffs.

Disappointing for all, but especially Nash and Bellamy.

“Not qualifying for AUS left a bitter taste in my mouth,” said Bellamy. “I didn’t want to end my career on that note. The thought of walking away with one year of eligibility left also started to weigh on my mind, and I started to feel like I wouldn’t ever really be able close this chapter of my life without wondering what one more season could have had in store for the team and me.”

“The experience Jesse and Brynn bring is invaluable.”

Regardless of why they’re returning, REDS head coach Jon Crossland is excited to have the duo for one more season.

“They’ve impacted our program significantly during their time here,” he said. “The opportunity to chase a championship one last time is great. They’ll cross over with a new generation of players that will have the opportunity to learn from them.

Over four competitive seasons, Bellamy, graduating this spring with a Science degree, has started 34 of the 42 games she’s appeared in. In that time, she’s scored five goals and assisted on four others.

Bellamy is coming off the best season of her career. She scored twice and registered three assists, earning 2nd Team AUS All-Star honours.

Nash, graduating with a Recreation and Sport Studies degree, has started all 33 of the games she’s appeared in for the REDS, registering 13 wins, 15 losses and five draws.

“I love soccer and I’ve seen myself grow as an athlete,” said Nash. “I knew that I would be mad at myself if I did not play out my last year of eligibility and compete at a high level for at least one more year.”

Both Nash and Bellamy say they sought the advice of supportive parents before making their commitments.

“My mom always told me to play at the highest level I can for as long as possible, because, someday, I'll wish I still could. Her words have stuck with me throughout my decision-making process,” said Nash.

“I spoke to my parents quite a bit, as I really value their opinions and advice,” said Bellamy. “They told me, I’m only in my early-twenties once, and am only a university athlete once, and to enjoy this phase of life as long as I can. Knowing that they supported my decision had a great impact on me.”

“Jesse sets the example for our group in on-field performances and energy,” said Crossland. “She has high standards for herself and those around her, and will do whatever is needed to win. When her teammates see that, it raises them up and motivates them.”

“The level of detail and attention that Brynn puts into all she does is impressive,” he said. “Whether it’s training, gym workouts, game days, Athletes’ Council or the Women In Sport conference, it doesn’t matter, Brynn does not see status quo. She has a keen eye for development and for making things better for herself and others.”

Both Nash and Bellamy say they considered continuing their educations elsewhere, but neither considered exhausting their eligibility with another program.

They both say their goal for 2022 is the same as the goal they set in 2017, a conference championship.

“With it being my final year, I want to give everything I possibly can and prove to myself what I’m capable of, so that when the season ends, I can end my career knowing that I gave it my best,” said Bellamy.

“My goal each season is to continue to build on my development, and continue to push myself technically, tactically, mentally and overall, as a contributing teammate,” said Nash. “There is a feeling of redemption that could relate to the goal of being a contender for the AUS title. That’s a goal, but something I’d like to contribute to being the standard for REDS soccer in the future.”

The REDS, with Nash and Bellamy in the line-up, are scheduled to open the 2022 AUS regular season on September 11th, at Moncton.

UNB’s home opener is scheduled for September 17th, at 1:00pm, when the REDS will host the Dal Tigers.


FILE PHOTOS: Kevin Barrett/for UNB Athletics