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UNF Spinnaker

Basketball scorekeeper uses no hands, has no legs

 Have you ever tried to keep up with being the scorekeeper for a Division I basketball team? Maybe the real question is: Could you do it with no hands while sitting in a wheelchair?

 UNF’s Kenton Bell can.

 Bell, born without hands or legs, has never walked a day in his life. He has never thrown a football or enjoyed playing soccer with his friends. It wouldn’t be unnatural to think someone like Bell grew up distant from the norm, but this was most definitely not the case.

 Being the scorekeeper for the Ospreys is what Bell loves to do, he said.

 He uses a metal rod in his mouth to press the particular buttons of which he is in search during a fast-paced game and is able to inform the fans of any fouls from the players. He also keeps the scoreboard up to date.

 “When I am on the court, I am no longer disabled,” Bell said.

 In his spare time, when he is not doing what he loves to do, Bell is focused on writing his autobiography he has titled “Look Mom, No Hands, No Legs Either.” The book is almost finished, and he is sure he has found a publisher, he said.

 His mom taught him how to write with a pen or pencil in my mouth, Bell said.

 There was possibility that Bell could have gotten a job with UNF arch rival Jacksonville University. When he was at Indiana University-Purdue University, he called JU to inquire about a position as scorekeeper.

 JU didn’t need a scorekeeper but did refer Bell to UNF. And Bell contacted UNF the day after the previous scorekeeper resigned, and he got the job, he said.

 UNF Athletics hired Bell over the phone.

 Bell served as the scorekeeper for IUPU for seven years and for University of Kentucky for five years. 

 He enjoys every minute of his job, he said.

When UNF women’s basketball head coach Mary Tappmeyer found out the scorekeeper didn’t have any hands or legs, she didn’t take it seriously, she said.

 “I thought it was a joke,” Tappmeyer said. “When I first met Kenton, I reached out to shake his hand.”

 However, Tappmeyer makes a special effort to tap him on the head before every game.

 Bell also served one term on the Mayor’s Disability Council in Jacksonville from April 2003 to March 2006. Then Major John Delaney appointed him.

 Growing up, Bell was what could be called a regular military brat traveling from base to base wherever his father was stationed.

 Bell, who visits his family in Indianapolis every summer, has no intention of moving back and now lives in an apartment across the street from JU.

 “I do declare I am the best scoreboard operator this side of the Mississippi River,” Bell said. “I’d like to move up and see if I can do the pros, do a Jaguars game or something like that.”

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