Brancato stars on cheerleading team despite heart condition

Alexa Di Novo, Staff Reporter

When she was just three months old, Bella Brancato had her first surgery.

Now as a 16-year-old cheerleader, she has persevered through her condition and surgeries and starred as a key member of the EGHS varsity cheerleading team.

Brancato was born with a rare heart condition named Tetralogy of Fallot. According to the Mayo Clinic, the condition affects the structure of the heart and the blood flow.

”Nothing really caused it, a lot of times it’s genetics, but no one else in my family has the same condition as me,” Brancato said. 

Brancato is consistently applauded for both her great academic and star tumbling achievements on Elk Grove’s varsity team. To get to where she is now, Brancato devotes hours outside of school to focus on perfecting her tumbling skills.

”It really hasn’t affected me (as an athlete), but a lot of the time people think that I’m bad or lazy because I’m slow and need breaks in between full outs,” Brancato said.

Brancato’s dedication is never overlooked. As a matter of fact, she was at practice doing full outs hours before heart surgery her freshman year.

“Bella is one of our most dedicated athletes,” head coach Shannon Evans said. “She’s always putting in 110 percent in whatever she does, even when she’s tired she still pushes through.”

Thanks to the many other athletes who also contribute to the cheer team, Brancato’s fellow teammates have previously advanced to state and placed in the top 10 at previous competitions. 

Throughout the routines, Brancato can be seen tumbling across the floor. 

“Bella knew at that point that her No. 1 priority was cheer, so she pushed herself to be here at practice,” Evans said. “She was an essential part of that routine. If she wasn’t there, it would be very difficult to complete that routine.”

Brancato continuously pursues her love for competitive cheerleading by putting in the effort through her work ethic. 

”Don’t doubt people born with medical conditions, whether it be a heart condition, or any other condition,” Brancato said.