Bella Secaira had played softball before.
But the moment she said she really became a softball player was when she first set foot in the place she simply calls "the warehouse."
Secaira saw the three batting cages at Softball Connection in Huntington Beach. She met Tony Rico, a hitting coach she referred to as her Mr. Miyagi from "The Karate Kid."
Rico hasn't taught Secaira how to "wax on, wax off," or how to catch flies with a chopstick since that meeting about five years ago. He helped teach her hitting and also did something far more valuable for Secaira, the Newport Harbor High sophomore catcher.
"He switched softball for me," Secaira said. "Instead of being a hobby, it's making it a career and actually going to college for it. That was the best time, because it really opened my eyes. If I keep working hard and I give it my all, I can go to college for it, or maybe be on the Junior Olympic team like some of my friends are."