Ella Deganutti – Cheerleader – US Glove Brand Ambassador
It’s been said as one door closes, another opens. This certainly rings true for Ella Deganutti, whose seven-year journey with dance ended unceremoniously around her ninth birthday. But the exit coincided with her aunt beginning to coach cheerleading, and Ella, a native of Ottawa, Ontario, was quickly recruited for cheer. “Basically, she told me to try it out and I was like okay, I guess,” says Ella, indicating her initial indifference towards the new sport. “But then I stuck with it and I really started loving it.”
Despite the overlaps between dance and cheer, Ella’s body needed a little bit of time to adapt to the new demands. “When I started cheer, I couldn’t do anything,” Ella says with a laugh. “I didn’t even have a backbend. I couldn’t do anything more than a cartwheel.” Fast forward five years to the present and Ella is now on two competition cheer teams within the All Star Federation, providing a sense of just how far her hard work has carried her. “One is 4.2, so level four stunting and level two tumbling so it only goes up to back handsprings, while the stunting is harder,” Ella explains. “The other is level five for both [stunting and tumbling]. It’s definitely harder skill-wise because there’s stuff like fulls, but we can go to Worlds, which is the biggest competition.”
Ella doesn’t hesitate when choosing her favorite part about cheerleading: stunting as a flyer. “It’s the closest you’ll ever come to flying, so it’s a lot of fun”, says Ella, adding “It’s scary though because you fall a lot.” She knows this firsthand and recites the story of a particularly memorable incident from practice a few years ago when Ella’s team attempted a new stunt in which they would catch her on her stomach. Instead, they missed her altogether and she slammed into the spring floor below, momentarily knocking the wind out of her. But after regaining her breath—and composure—she was right back at it. Although she doesn’t have a favorite stunt skill—they’re all scary and fun in their own way, according to Ella—she especially enjoys anything one-footed.
Ella’s range of tumbling skills has also grown significantly, encompassing tucks, layouts, back handsprings and back handspring-tucks. She really loves doing front aerials, something that doesn’t require much power or effort because of her natural flexibility. But it isn’t always smooth sailing for Ella, who admits she usually has to work through some mental barriers that come with the territory. With the gyms closed for most of the past year, she’s taken to outdoor tumbling, something that came a lot easier in warm weather instead of the harsh Canadian winter with the threat of slipping usually living in the back of her mind.
In addition to working to overcome those mental blocks, Ella also found ways to overcome her physical limits. “I’m not going to lie, I hated grass tumbling because it always used to hurt so much,” she says. Fortunately, tumbling has provided a catalyst for connecting with other tumblers, including fellow US Glove Brand Ambassador Luca Marz, who was one of a few tumblers that convinced her to give US Glove’s Tiger Paws a try. Once she got them, they quickly opened new doors for her in tumbling. “Back tumbling was always scary because you had to tuck on the ground and you could faceplant. In general, it hurt your wrists a lot. But with Tiger Paws it doesn’t hurt at all.” She also appreciates the wide array of colors available and is more than pleased with her pink pair.
Outside of tumbling and cheer, some of Ella’s favorite memories have come from her family’s five trips to Italy, where much of her extended family lives. “My dad’s full Italian and my mom’s half, so instead of staying in hotels we stay with family,” she says. “And then after we see everybody we’ll go somewhere nearby for a few days like Croatia or Paris.”
An eighth-grader, Ella says that her involvement with Best Buddies is one of the highlights of her school day. Through this club, she spends her lunch period hanging out with some of the special education students. In addition to destigmatizing children with disabilities, she says it’s a genuinely fun experience. “They’re all just so funny and sweet,” says Ella. Looking way, way down the road, Ella has given some thought to attending medical school, perhaps inspired by her frequent Greys Anatomy binges.
We’re excited and proud to have Ella join our group of Brand Ambassadors, and we look forward to seeing how she unleashes her superpowers in the future.