Sophomore defender Bella Palazzolo hails from the town of Shelby Township, Michigan, just an hour outside Detroit. While she stands only at five-foot-two-inches, she is often called the “spicy Italian” by her teammates due to her fiery spirit on the field and her intense passion for life.
Palazzolo is a Health Sciences major, focusing on a Physician’s Assistant track. She’s in the pre-PA club, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and a representative for her team on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
The game of soccer started at the age of four for Palazzolo. “I did basketball and volleyball briefly, but soccer was always my main focus,” Palazzolo said. Soccer took center stage in her sports life once high school came around, where she played on both her club soccer team and high school team, as they were in different seasons.
Palazzolo knew SLU was the place for her almost immediately. “I was recruited and asked to come visit SLU, and I just had a good feeling about it,” she said. “Nothing else compared. Academically and athletically, it was the place for me.”
Palazzolo is primarily a left back for SLU’s women’s soccer team, and she has a dominant left foot to complement her position. Being a college athlete has played an impactful role in her life. “Playing a college sport is very, very demanding, but it’s just as rewarding,” Palazzolo said. “ In the moment, it seems impossible, but being a student athlete forces you to develop a mentality that you’re always going to make it. Quitting is not an option.”
She also sits on the leadership committee for her team. “I love the team, and I’ve had people tell me how much of an impact our team culture has made. People notice it,” she said. “Being a leader on the team, it’s cool to see that people notice how much work we do behind the scenes because it all really does translate on the field. It’s really rewarding.”
Off the field, Palazzolo spends a solid amount of her time as a hospice volunteer. She is primarily a companion, which entails providing company for the patients. She will do anything from watching TV with them to putting together small puzzles. “It’s rewarding in the sense that you know that the patients really need you. Hospice is not pretty, and it can be very sad. You’re providing them with a brief moment where they don’t need to think about their situation,” Palazzolo said.
Another anchor in Palazzolo’s life is her family. Her parents and siblings live in America, but many of her relatives live across the ocean. “I have a huge, Italian family. My family is very loud and very warm,” she said. “It’s a lot of laughter and a lot of accents. The food is the biggest connection I feel I have with my family in Italy, but we FaceTime the relatives we have over there a lot. It’s totally stereotypical to what everyone thinks it is. However, it can be hard to be away from them knowing that I’m missing out on big family moments and not being able to share those memories with them.”
Palazzolo feels her family has played a major part in the person she is today. “Something my family has taught me is that even if you’re super different or don’t really reflect your family’s culture, my family is so forgiving,” she said. “I find myself being more like that and more accepting. At the end of the day, family is what’s going to be there. You’re going to lose friends and significant others, but your family will never leave you and never reject you. They will always support you.”
After college, Palazzolo’s main focus is on her career. “I’m not really sure if I want to play soccer after college,” she said. “Right now, I am pretty career-focused, and I have a plan for professional school. My end goal right now is to be a PA in the emergency room, ideally in trauma, but I am open to anything. I want to travel a little bit, but I will go where opportunity takes me.”
Palazzolo was a key member of last year’s team, who placed second in the A-10 regular season. She started almost every game and played several 90-minute spells. Palazzolo and the rest of the women’s team will be back in action in the fall.