The engine of Vanderbilt’s culture: Bella Lachance

Bella Lachance was a key piece in Shea Ralph’s puzzle this season.
Bella Lachance smiling. (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)
Bella Lachance smiling. (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)
Lexie Perez

Meet Vanderbilt’s engine, Bella Lachance. 

Bella LaChance celebrates with teammates after scoring against Georgia, as photographed on March 3, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Savannah Walske) (Savannah Walske)

“Bella brings something to our team that is priceless,” head coach Shea Ralph said about Lachance. “She’s one of our engines. We wouldn’t be here without her.”

You usually cannot drive a car without gas. Lachance is Vanderbilt’s engine that does all the work behind the scenes. She has been integral in the Commodores’ culture shift since coming to West End in the fall of 2020.

Lachance reigns from Davie, Fla., attending Cypress Bay High School for one year and St. Thomas Aquinas for three years. The 5’6” guard thrived on the court, ultimately scoring 1,850 high school career points. Her success on the court led to her being named first-team all-state for two years.

Lachance’s stellar high school career eventually caught the attention of Vanderbilt. While Vanderbilt saw a fit with Lachance and the program, the youngster also thought Vanderbilt would be the perfect match. 

“The degree is amazing and I put school first,” Lachance said in an interview with The Hustler. “I’m a student-athlete and I take the classroom very seriously. The SEC is the best conference in the whole world and Nashville is beautiful.”

Lachance was recruited by former Vanderbilt head coach Stephanie White. Lachance spent her first season at Vanderbilt under White’s leadership. Due to COVID-19 concerns and a depleted roster, White elected to end the season on Jan. 18, 2021. The announcement came just eight games into the season.

When the season concluded, White was fired and Vanderbilt later hired Ralph to be its next coach. From the first day Ralph got there, Lachance was pushed. Lachance, like she always does, had a winning attitude and great mentality when being coached by the former national champion Ralph.

“[Ralph] has pushed me harder than anyone has ever pushed me,” Lachance said. “She’s made me realize things about myself. She’s turned me into the player that I am where I won’t give up, no matter what anyone says. I will never give up and ‘’ll always put up a dog fight.”

Across the 87 games Lachance has played, she has made 24 starts, scored 175 points and notched 32 steals. Lachance may not be atop a box score, but she has embraced her role and run with it. 

One of Lachance’s favorite games she played in came during her junior year. On Feb. 9, 2023 Vanderbilt upset the Arkansas Razorbacks, 78-70. Lachance scored a career-high seven points. She enjoyed outlasting Samara Spencer in battle, who was a player Lachance shared the court with in high school. 

Whenever Lachance’s number has been called, she does her best to deliver. 

No moment embodied that more than on Senior Day. The Commodores had accomplished nearly everything they hoped for from winning their third-straight game to Cambridge scoring her 1,000th point.

One thing had yet to be accomplished. Lachance to score a basket. With just over 30 seconds remaining in the game, Vanderbilt had the ball with a 15-point cushion over the Florida Gators. Pierre got the ball near the free-throw line, handed it off to Lachance who then drove to the rim and converted on a layup.

The fans at Memorial Gymnasium immediately erupted when Lachance scored. The way Lachance was embraced on that day proved how much she is beloved by her team and the Vanderbilt community. 

Lachance’s basket was the cherry on top of the Commodores’ prosperous 2023-24 regular season campaign.

 

Lachance has been a figurehead behind the scenes who has helped Vanderbilt catapult itself from an SEC bottom feeder to an NCAA Tournament team.

Lachance did not see game action when the Commodores defeated Columbia in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament on March 20. Lachance — like she has her entire time at Vanderbilt — was the most vocal supporter on the bench and the first to give the team high fives and words of wisdom during timeouts. 

  

This season especially, Lachance has been the glue that keeps the Commodores steady. 

“I’ve tried to take over that role of being a leader along with Jordyn Cambridge,” Lachance said. “I know how it’s like to be a freshman, and you get to this new school and you’re nervous and scared. So I’ve just been trying to be a role model to help them lead by example.”

Bella LaChance dribbles down the court, as photographed on Feb. 19, 2023.
Bella LaChance dribbles down the court, as photographed on Feb. 19, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Barrie Barto) (Barrie Barto)

Lachance treats each of her teammates like family. She embraces and loves every member of her team. She particularly enjoys being a mentor for Ryanne Allen, Jada Brown and Khamil Pierre. 

She also conducts off-court activities with her teammates light-heartedly. Although SEC basketball requires a lot of focus, grit and determination, Lachance encourages her teammates to have a good laugh when in the right setting. She is particularly proud of her dry humor and dad jokes.

“She’s always been there to help others,” Lachance’s father Sean said.

Lachance takes her leadership seriously, on and off the court. The senior uses her platform to be a steward in the community through community service. In February, she became a two-time member of the SEC Community Service Team. 

“Community service means a lot to me and winning this award shows how serious my team and I take it,” Lachance said. 

As Lachance’s time as an undergraduate student is nearing the finish line, she will take several of the relationships and connections with her, graduating with a degree in communications. In January, she told The Hustler that she would love to play at Vanderbilt next season while also earning a graduate degree.

Whatever Lachance decides to do, she will continue to stay true to her values and make the people around her smile. Lachance’s future is up in the air, but one thing is for certain; she will never give up, no matter the task she is asked.

“I am most proud of the way she handles herself when things are difficult and not necessarily going her way,” Lachance’s mother Joelle Sebregandio said. “She keeps her head up and she never lets people see her disappointment. Bella always gives 100 percent regardless of the situation.”

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About the Contributors
Andrew Wilf
Andrew Wilf, Former Sports Editor
Andrew Wilf (’24) is Sports Editor for The Vanderbilt Hustler. He is from Livingston, N.J., and is majoring in history and minoring in business. He joined the sports staff his freshman year, previously serving as a Staff Writer, Assistant Sports Editor and Deputy Sports Editor. Beyond writing for The Hustler, he is also the host of Anchor Analysis, Commodore Clash and Live From West End. In his free time, Andrew enjoys watching the NFL and playing golf. He can be reached at [email protected].
Lexie Perez
Lexie Perez, Graphics Editor
Lexie Perez (‘26) is from Northern Virginia and is majoring in climate studies and human and organizational development and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. She enjoys listening to 70s and 80s pop music, doing the daily Wordle and rooting for the Nashville Predators and Cincinnati Bengals. She can be reached at [email protected].
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