Bellingham Bells head coach Jim Clem will step down for the 2024 season. He coached the Bells for 12 seasons, primarily as a pitching coach but recently as head coach in 2023.
“It’s been a great ride, I’ve just really loved what I’ve been able to do,” Clem said. “I wish everybody could love their job as much as I did, it really isn’t work. Labor of love, as they say.”
Clem said he plans to spend his time off with his wife and family.
“He’s such a good representative of what our mission is and what we try to accomplish,” said Bellingham Bells General Manager Stephanie Morrell. “Everyone is going to miss him, the energy he brings and what he brings to the culture – because he brings a lot.”
The Bells’ way, said Morrell, is to enjoy the game through teamwork, development and community-centered activity. Clem expressed that the environment they’ve created has had a positive impact on players, coaches and fans.
“The culture that the Bells have, and have had for a long time, is what makes them special,” Clem said, “In order to be what we call a good Bell, you have to think about what’s good for the team and the community — more of a we thing than a me thing.”
He also said team mentality is what enabled the Bells to win as much as they did, including many close games.
The Bells went 35-18 in 2023 under Clem’s leadership. The team responded well to Clem’s positive attitude and team mentality, infielder Yohann Dessureault said. “I just knew from the beginning that he was a great person. He always had something positive to say, even in tough times and losses,” he said.
“He would believe in everyone and it would boost our confidence,” Dessureault said. “The results came right after because we knew he had our back.”
Clem stepped away from the team in 2022 to spend time with his family but returned as head coach the following season.
Over the course of his 12-season run with the Bells, Clem made the playoffs seven times and was a contributor in the recruitment process, helping craft a championship-winning team in 2014. He oversaw the development of hundreds of players, many of whom still keep in touch with him. He was also inducted into the WIAA Coaches Hall of Fame in 2014.
Clem’s impact on players can be seen in pitcher Spencer Howard, who worked closely with Clem.
“Spencer Howard, who was with us in 2014, was kind of a project,” Morrell said. “And by 2016 he came back as a whole different guy and ended up pitching three seasons in Major League Baseball. [Clem] set him on that path.”
Regarding the hunt for a new head coach, Morrell said they hope to have the position filled by early November.
Clem expressed his confidence in the returning Bells coaching staff and management.
“As long as those people are there, that’s going to be a team that the community can be super proud of,” Clem said. “The Bells really are a special organization.”
Nate Landi is a senior at Western Washington University and a campus reporter for The Front. He is a journalism major and is very interested in sports and local news. You can reach him directly at email@example.com.