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The Wichita Eagle: WSU cheerleader overcomes the odds: ‘I learned to not take anything for granted’

By Taylor Eldridge

Standing in a line on the baseline at Koch Arena, Carli McCloud, a Wichita State sophomore majoring in exercise science, is inconspicuous next to the rest of the WSU spirit squad.

There’s no way to tell that five years ago McCloud was diagnosed with osteochondritis dissecans, a degenerative joint disorder in her left elbow. McCloud, a North Newton native, was a superb gymnast at the time and had just won the Kansas all-around state title, but doctors told her that she no longer had a future in athletics.

By the time Carli was 10, she was training 20 hours per week at Folger’s Gymnastics in Andover. When she was 13, the training increased to 24 hours per week, but Carli was also having the most success of her career. That year she won the Level 8, 13-year-old division state all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics state meet in Wichita.

Not long after, Carli started feeling an nagging pain in her left elbow. Carli trained with the injury for three months, believing the pain would eventually subside. It never did and instead, the pain intensified.

Carli was referred to Children’s Mercy Kansas City, where orthopedic surgeon Donna Pacicca discovered Carli actually had osteochondritis dissecans and could no longer pursue gymnastics — or any athletics.

But after being told she couldn’t do something, Carli was determined to prove that she could. 


Read the full story via The Wichita Eagle

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