The energy level was high in the Uniondale High School gym last Sunday during the Long Island Kickline Association’s competition as teams from around the island performed intricate routines.
No team seemed short on inspiration to win, but Smithtown West Whisperettes coach Tara Foglia made it clear her team had a special person in mind as they took the floor.
Stephanie Belli, a 2010 graduate of Smithtown West High School and former member of its kickline team, was one of the four women killed when a pickup truck collided into their limousine in Cutchogue on July 18.
“Steph was part of my first team, my first girls, at West,” said Foglia, of the students she’s coached. “I was new to them and they were new to me. We all became close… nearly every girl she was on the team with came to her wake or funeral and many of their moms as well.”
This year’s team has decided to honor Belli’s memory with special purple pins and bracelets to be worn throughout the rest of the school year.
“When everything happened I needed to do something,” Foglia said. “Steph’s favorite color was purple so I spools of purple ribbon. I spent hours making purple remembrance pins. I gave them to all the alumni and their moms at the wake and funeral. From there it mushroomed. I made more and I gave them to the current girls. We are going to wear them on our uniforms at all home games this year. We can’t wear them at competition so they will be on our bags or warm-up jackets for those.”
That isn’t the only thing being done to honor Belli’s memory.
“With the full support of her family we have started a scholarship fund in Steph’s name. We will give out two scholarships every year,” said Foglia, adding that one will go to a Smithtown West student and another to a Smithtown East student.
Regardless of what they do, Foglia will keep her own memories of Belli close.
“Steph was light,” Foglia added. “She had this smile that was infectious. You could never be upset with her. She would sit next to me during water breaks and play with my hair. With anyone else that probably would have been annoying, but it was Steph, you just couldn’t be annoyed. Sometimes the girls would call her ‘Stephania.’ It made everyone smile. She had a way of making tense situations funny.”