Difference makers

Erik Boal

In addition to referring to her as the most unappreciated athlete at

Bellarmine-Jefferson High, Bryan Camacho says 16-year-old Julie Van

Dyke is a “coach’s dream.”


Camacho also has a high level of praise for fellow junior Kelly

Hobbs, but for different reasons.

That’s because the 17-year-old prides herself on being an

opponent’s worst nightmare.


On the basketball court, they are diametric opposites, with Van

Dyke functioning as the smooth, subtle, calm and almost effortless

sharp-shooter, and Hobbs operating as the tough, confident and often

relentless defender.

Off the court, they are former rivals, but now best friends of

three years, with Hobbs leaving St. Francis Xavier Catholic School

and Van Dyke arriving from St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic School to

join forces at Bell-Jeff.


Camacho has dubbed them “Fire and Ice,” but all cute labels or

characterizations aside, the only thing that matters to Hobbs and Van

Dyke today is that they leave the Long Beach Pyramid with people

calling them “CIF Southern Section champions.”

Hobbs, Van Dyke and their 14 other teammates will compete at 9:30

a.m. today against Westlake Village Oaks Christian (21-6) in the

Division IVA final, marking the Guards (23-4) third trip to a CIF

championship game and their first since winning it in 1997.


“Every single player on this team has so much pride in Bell-Jeff

and everybody honestly loves each other. It’s like a big family,”

said Hobbs, a three-sport athlete, who was the most valuable player

on the girls’ track and field team last spring.

“It’s a beautiful thing we’re experiencing right now and for all

the hard work we’ve put in, we deserve to play here.”


Camacho always knew that Hobbs deserved to start, but there was a

time when the girl who the third-year coach says, “captures the

identity of our team,” didn’t have the same swagger that she boasts


Frustrated over her lack of offensive production, Hobbs sought

direction from Camacho about how she could best contribute to the


After a lengthy conversation, the message was simple: let her

defense create her offense.

“She might not score, but at the end of the game, you’ll know she

was there,” said Camacho of Hobbs, who is averaging 10.2 points and

2.8 steals per game.

“She might not be the best shooter, but she will [cover] you full

court the entire game and she’ll outwill you in the end. In order to

beat her, you don’t have to be better, you have to be 10 times

better because she puts a lot of pressure on herself and she wants to

be perfect.”

But aside from the physical strides Hobbs has made on the court,

Van Dyke has seen a change in her attitude off of it.

“She’s responsible, she carries us and her attitude motivates us,”

said Van Dyke, also a three-sport athlete, who averages 12.3 points.

“She’s a great person and a great athlete and she’s developed into

a second leader.”

Said Hobbs: “Coach made me believe in myself. And when people put

their trust in you, it makes a big difference.”

Although Hobbs has been a difference-maker in the playoffs --

tallying 11 points and six steals in a 47-41 second-round win against

Flintridge Prep and scoring 16 points in a 69-34 quarterfinal victory

against Downey Calvary Chapel -- she defers to Van Dyke when

discussing clutch performances.

Van Dyke scored 19 points in the Guards’ 57-51 semifinal win against L.A. Windward, including four three-pointers.

“She’s always going to be there and come through for the team,”

said Hobbs, who boasts a 3.7 grade-point average.

Said Camacho: “If you let her set her feet, she can definitely

shoot the basketball. But she can handle the ball, she’s a good

rebounder, a great passer and a strong defensive player.”

Added Van Dyke, who earned a 4.4 this past semester and boasts a

4.0 cumulative GPA: “I saw the rims and I knew it was going to be a

good night.”


In order for Bell-Jeff to enjoy a good morning, Camacho knows it’s

going to take more than just Jennae Peoples to win a title.

But ever since losses to Mission Hills Alemany and La Canada in

late December, the Guards have evolved into a more complete team,

thanks to invaluable contributions from Hobbs and Van Dyke.

“They complement each other very well,” Camacho said.

Said Julie, who is joined by cousins Kelly and Janette Van Dyke:

“It’s just one big bonding experience and it all shows how much we

care for each other.”

In addition to sharing such a special moment with her best friend,

Hobbs has also gained satisfaction in reaching the final when many

thought the Guards couldn’t.

“When nobody thought we could come through, we still believed,”

she said.

“And even after we did, people still don’t think we’re big-time.”

But with personalities like Hobbs and Van Dyke, Bell-Jeff isn’t

too far from getting there.