RACINE — Bella Jaramillo’s opening statement as a high school soccer player has been convincing this spring.
Based on the rich athletic history in her family, one has to like her chances of making a compelling case for herself by the time she graduates from Racine Lutheran in 2022.
The freshman already has 15 goals for the Crusaders (5-9, 1-5 Metro Classic Conference), who appear to be on the rise under first-year coach Peter LaBoda. She has three hat tricks on a team that features five other freshman starters.
How impressive has Jaramillo been? LaBoda coached Genevieve Cruz, who went on to play for Nebraska (she has since transferred to Northern Iowa) at Horlick and sees similarities between the two.
“Bella has added a dimension to program,” LaBoda said. “She reminds me a lot of Genevieve Cruz, who I coached at Horlick. She’s got that raw instinct. There are certain things she can improve on yet, but she’s already at that level on Genevieve.
“She has just brought an intensity level that some of the girls have picked up on. especially being a freshman. Some of the freshmen already look up to her and it’s a great thing to have. I look forward to what she will continue to bring.”
That could be a great deal, based on Jaramillo’s bloodlines.
Her father, Frankie, a Mount Pleasant police officer, was the 1993 All-Racine County Player of the Year in baseball at Case. Her mother, the former Nicole Henningfeld, played basketball at Racine Lutheran in the mid 1990s.
Jaramillo’s uncle Jason, was a former catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. And her aunt, the former Abby Garchek, was a three-sport athlete at St. Catherine’s who went on to be a standout for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team.
As one could assume, Bella was exposed to athletics from an early age.
“All the time when we were little, we’d be outside either throwing a baseball or a football — anything to tie in with sports,” she said. “We were just a sporty kind of group.”
Jaramillo’s roots as an athlete were within the chalk lines of diamonds because of her dad, Jason and a third uncle, Lee (Abby’s husband). But at an early age, she started identifying as a soccer player and the rest took care of itself.
“Soccer was more fun to play,” she said. “I kept really active and I got more experience with a team, how to work as a team. And it kept me in shape.”
By the fifth grade, she was playing for Racine Unified. For the next four years, she gradually developed in soccer, setting herself up to make an immediate impact for Lutheran this spring.
“Freshmen Bella Jaramillo and Kierra Mohally are going to make an immediate impact,” predicted LaBoda in the season preview in April.
LaBoda hasn’t been disappointed so far. Jaramillo and Mohally have joined fellow freshmen Sam Coolidge, Sam Fisher, Haiden Kraus and Emma Stahnke have combined to give the Crusaders a strong foundation.
“It’s not just me in high school,” Jaramillo said. “We succeed as a team and that’s how we win games.”
And that means Jaramillo feels she doesn’t need to score to feel good about a performance.
“We lost a couple games ago, but I thought I played really tough,” she said. “I tried to get the ball and make the best opportunities.”
And when Jaramillo falls short of what she expects from herself, she has a hobby to channel her frustration. She is a skilled artist and one of her drawings has been in display in Lutheran’s lobby this school year.
“Maybe I’ll got home and color because I’ve had a stressful day,” she said. “Like after soccer, I’ll try to calm myself down if I’ve had a rough game. I’ll draw on whatever I can get my hands on.”
What would it mean for Jaramillo to add another chapter to a family which is so identified with sports in Racine County?
“That would mean a lot to me because I would be putting my name up there with my dad and my uncles and my aunt,” she said. “I’m creating my own little way in soccer and not in baseball or basketball or anything else.”