Standout Female Athletes Share Celiac Disease Diagnosis

November 16, 2010

Standout Female Athletes Share Celiac Disease Diagnosis

Two inspirational stories make local headlines.

Standout high school volleyball player Zoe Bilello and North Carolina State University Cross Country star Andie Cozzarelli have never met, but they share something amazing in common – they are celiacs who have excelled thanks to a proper diagnosis!

Recently profiled by two local publications, these ladies shared their personal experience overcoming undiagnosed celiac disease in an effort to inspire others to Restore their Health and Reclaim their Life!

In an interview with the Indiana Star Press, Zoe Biello admits that she struggled with anemia and fatigue prior to her diagnosis. Since going gluten-free in April, the high school senior – who balances 5 AP courses, oboe and English horn practices in addition to volleyball – has gained about 15-20 pounds and now has the stamina to excel on and off the court!

According to athlete zoe

“Zoë battled through anemia to play nearly flawless volleyball at the state finals. She first learned of her condition in August of 2009.

‘I was getting really, really tired during two-a-days, more tired than I should’ve been,’ she says. ‘I go in, get my blood tested and find out I’m extremely anemic. My iron count’s like near zero.’

Her doctor put her on an iron supplement, but that only made her feel worse. Her tooth-pick thin body was constantly running on fumes. She then took more blood tests and eventually discovered she had Celiac disease — a condition where the lining of the small intestine is damaged from eating gluten and other proteins.”

Moving forward, Biiello faces the challenge of deciding what she will pursue at the college level- and where.

“She recently received admittance into Indiana University, and she is in the process of applying to the University of Colorado Boulder, Duke University, University of Houston, Tulane University and Yale University.

Zoë participated in a volleyball camp at Yale in the summer of 2009 and briefly dreamt of playing for the Bulldogs, but she says she ranked roughly sixth on their pecking order for a libero. Still, Yale is right at or near the top of her list of potential schools.

‘I decided that if I wasn’t going to go to a top academic school for volleyball, then I wasn’t going to play volleyball,’ she says.”

To read more about Zoe Bilello and her personal celiac story featured in the Indiana Star Press:

gf cross country andie

A three-sport standout at Apex High School, Andie Cozzarelli became frustrated and struggled to find success as a member of the North Carolina State University Cross Country team.

That was before Andie discovered she had celiac disease.

As reported by the Technician, a student newspaper of NC State:

“After having two subpar seasons by her own standards, the junior has finally emerged into one of the Wolfpack’s top runners. In her three races this season, Cozzarelli finished seventh at the Wolfpack Invite, 38th at the Roy Griak Invitational and 37th at the NCAA Pre-Nationals, which was the second-best finish among the team.

One of the biggest obstacles Cozzarelli has had to deal with in her collegiate career has been coping with Celiac disease. Since last October, she has been forced to adopt a gluten-free diet by avoiding foods that contain the protein gluten, which is typically found in wheat foods like bread and pasta.

‘I talked to the nutritionist about how I was always feeling sick and having stomach aches my freshman year,’ Cozzarelli said. ‘It turned out it was Celiac disease. We later found out that my grandma actually has Celiac disease and it’s hereditary. Immediately after I changed my diet [to gluten-free], I felt a completely drastic difference in how I feeling.’”

Now, Cozzarelli plays a vital role for the Wolfpack and received All-ACC and All-NCAA Regional honors this 2010 season.

To read more about Andie and her personal celiac story, click here.