OSULA Announces 2023-2024 Scholarship Recipient

OSULA Announces 2023-24 Scholarship Recipient –

Bella Fisco of Saugus, Calif. (Saugus H.S.)

LOS ANGELES – Bella Fisco, a product of Saugus, Calif., and graduate of Saugus High School, has been chosen by The Ohio State University Alumni Club of Los Angeles (OSULA) as the recipient of its annual scholarship award for the 2023-24 academic year. The announcement was made by the club’s scholarship committee chair, OSULA Vice President Micah Pycraft.

OSULA’s $9,000 scholarship, open to all local Southern California high school graduates, was awarded to Fisco for her first year on the main campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

“Thank you very much for the scholarship award,” says Fisco, who graduated from Saugus High with honors and an impressive final grade point average of 3.96. “I want to thank the Ohio State Alumni Club of Los Angeles for the generous scholarship offer. I am super excited to attend The Ohio State University and represent OSU both academically and athletically!”

Not only did Fisco receive the OSULA scholarship, but she earlier signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Ohio State as a member of the Buckeye women’s swimming team, and she will be receiving scholarship assistance from the Athletic Department as well.

Fisco swam on the Saugus varsity swim team all four years breaking four high school records, a league record, winning CIF championships in the 100-yard butterfly and being on the podium at the State Championships. She also captured Saugus High scholar athlete and Female Athlete of the Year honors as a senior.

As a student athlete, she balanced her local academic, athletic and community activities with elite-level training and competition opportunities as a national team member on two club swim teams, Canyons Aquatic Club and Rose Bowl Aquatics.  Those efforts helped propel her to three-time USA Swimming Scholastic All-American honors.  She also was actively involved in Christian clubs and programs through her high school and church and participated in fundraising activities and events for a variety of charities.

An all-around athlete, Fisco initially started competing seriously as a youngster in a different sport before circumstances helped divert her focus from grass to the pool.

“I always loved all sports,” reflects Fisco, “and when I was nine, I was injured playing soccer so my parents thought swimming would be a great sport for me to participate in while I was healing. I instantly fell in love with swimming and discovered my passion for the sport. I was inspired by the coaches and athletes on my team, and I was motivated to learn all I could about being a competitive swimmer.”

This fall Fisco will join a talented team being piloted by Bill Dorenkott, OSU’s director of swimming and diving, who led the Buckeye women to their fourth consecutive Big Ten title last season and a sixth-place finish at the 2023 NCAA Championships, its highest finish in program history. 

“I am super excited to swim for Coach Dorenkott and the entire OSU coaching staff and to represent the Buckeyes in the Big Ten,” confides Fisco. “The team environment that the coaching staff and team members have created is exactly what I was looking for as a student athlete in college and I know it’s a place where I can continue to succeed. I likely will be specializing in butterfly, breaststroke and the IM events.”

Thanks to her parents and family background, this Southern California native says she always kept her eye on the Big Ten Conference as a potential destination for her to pursue her academic and athletic goals. 

“Growing up I always watched Big Ten football with my family, so I was drawn to the Big Ten conference from the start of determining which school was the perfect fit for me,” she recalls. “I researched NCAA Division I universities with excellent programs in health and rehabilitation sciences and swim teams with amazing team environments, and one thing I found really caught my attention.

“I viewed a video about The Ohio State University’s swim program on the school’s athletic website,” she continues, “and it included presentations from the coaches as well as the Eugene D. Smith Leadership Institute. This video spoke to me in volumes, and I knew at that moment that The Ohio State University was the perfect fit for me.”

Her family’s Midwest roots definitely stem from her parents, who both grew up in the Detroit area and went to college in the state up North.  They actually met on an airplane while traveling from California back to Detroit and, after getting married, moved to Ohio after her mother’s graduation for a new job with a major accounting firm. 

Fisco’s father started his professional career in Ohio in the law enforcement industry, which he continued to thrive in after moving to California a few years later.  It is his side of the family tree that has a greater connection to the Buckeye State with relatives of Bella’s father immigrating from Italy to the Cleveland area, including her late grandfather. 

“I am blessed to have my parents support in my choice to attend The Ohio State University and I am looking forward to sharing all of my educational and athletic experiences with them throughout my college career,” says Fisco.  “I’m also excited to get to know a lot more of my Italian relatives!”

In the classroom, Bella initially will be working on her bachelor’s degree through OSU’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.  She plans to pursue a master’s degree in athletic training and a clinical doctorate in physical therapy from Ohio State as well. Her career ambitions are to work with both professional athletes and athletes with disabilities.

Explains Fisco: “My professional goals are to help athletes with their athletic performance and rehabilitation. Specifically, I am interested in working with athletes with prosthetic limbs and helping them to achieve their athletic dreams.”

As for her own dreams, which are already impressively focused for an incoming freshman, Fisco is about to find out if those will be at all affected by moving from sunny Southern California to the four-seasons environment that Columbus, Ohio has to offer.  At this point it doesn’t appear anything will dampen her enthusiasm for enjoying and succeeding in her new home away from home. 

“I have been on the campus of The Ohio State University two times this past year,” Fisco reports, “and the amount of school pride and overall community focused environment is a clear indication of the positivity that Ohio State students have about their school. I know attending Ohio State will prepare me for my professional career as well as for life outside of school.

“I am so excited to be a Buckeye and to be part of an educational institution that exudes unity, pride and community,” she concludes, “and once I graduate, I will cherish being an alumni. My dad has taught me the importance of community and service and I look forward to giving back to The Ohio State community as an alumni member in the future!”