A-K Valley high school athletes of the week: Burrell’s Sara Novak and Springdale’s Mike Mitchell

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 | 4:31 PM

Sara Novak

Class: Sr.

School: Burrell

Sport: Volleyball

Report card: Novak had a solid all-around game for playoff bound Burrell in a 3-0 sweep of rival Valley on Thursday with five kills, seven aces and 10 assists. She also had 13 kills and 11 digs in a 3-1 loss to Derry. The Bucs played Southmoreland in a Class AA play-in game on Tuesday with the winner advancing to play top-seeded North Catholic on Thursday. Novak was the homecoming queen at Burrell, but missed last Saturday’s dance to take part in Carrie Underwood and Dick’s Sporting Goods’ program that benefits female scholastic athletics prior to Underwood’s concert at PPG Paints Arena with teammate Hannah Koziarski. The program donated $20,000 to five local school districts including Burrell.

How does it feel to be going back to the playoffs?

It feels really good. For me, we’ve made playoffs every year I’ve been in high school. I think with the team we have this year, we have a chance to go further than we normally have.

Burrell has played close matches with the top three teams in the section (Freeport, Deer Lakes and Derry). How did those matches help you prepare for the postseason?

Seeing how our potential, especially when we played Freeport, shows how much we can do. Knowing how well we can play gives us some confidence going into playoffs.

What’s it like sharing the court with your younger sister Anna?

I really enjoy playing with her, because we rely on each other out there for feedback and encouragement.

What was it like to meet Carrie Underwood?

It was incredible. Going into the day, we didn’t know we’d be meeting her. It was an amazing experience and a lot of fun. I don’t regret missing the homecoming dance, but people said it was a lot of fun. I wish I could’ve done both, but I am glad I went to that event. The concert was amazing.

Do you have any college plans?

I plan to attend a four-year university to study industrial engineering and hopefully play volleyball.

Do you have any superstitions or pregame routines?

I don’t really have any superstitions, but I do wear Crocs to every game. That’s something my sister and I do. I have a tie-dye pair and a purple pair.

Do you have a favorite pregame meal?

Before the past few games, my sister and I have been going to Wendy’s.

What’s your favorite school subject?

I like math the best and my favorite right now is statistics.

Who are your best friends on the team?

I’m pretty close with most of the team, but definitely my sister Anna, Hannah Koziarski, Reid Watkins and Olivia Kelly.

What’s your favorite TV show?


What’s something interesting that people may not know about you?

I like to travel and I hope to go all over the world and see as many countries as I can. Recently we went up to Bar Harbor, Maine and that was amazing.

Mike Mitchell

Class: Sr.

School: Springdale

Sport: Soccer

Report Card: Mitchell scored a highlight-reel goal that propelled No. 6 Springdale to a 1-0 victory over No. 11 Chartiers-Houston in the first round of the Class A playoffs on Saturday at Fox Chapel. He has 15 goals on the season. The Dynamos play No. 14 Bishop Canevin in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

What were the events surrounding the goal on Saturday?

We had a clearance out of our box and my younger brother, Chris, played a ball to my feet. I kind of dummied the ball and it rolled through the defender’s legs and then I sprinted onto it. I passed it to one of our midfielders and he passed it right back. Then I hit it from 25 yards out into the top corner.

How did it feel to come through for the team in the playoffs?

It felt awesome. Even though we were the higher seed, when it comes to playoffs, anyone that is there has talent and the capability of beating anyone. Getting that first goal with how strong our defense has been this year, it allowed us to pull it back and get a clean sheet.

How do you feel about Wednesday’s matchup with Bishop Canevin?

Bishop Canevin gave us a great game in the first round last year. With them beating Riverside, we know that they have talent, so we’re not going to sleep on them.

What’s it like playing with your younger brother Chris?

It’s been a lot of fun, especially with me being a senior and him being a freshman. He’s helped us out a lot. I yell at him sometimes, but that’s just a brotherly thing. I’m glad I got to play with him one year before it got to leave.

Do you have any superstitions or pregame routines?

I go through the same routine every game. Right before we start our possession warmup, I put my shin guards on and right before we shoot, I put my jersey on. It gets me in trouble with coach (Cesareo Sanchez), because I’m never ready on time, but it works. I also tuck my shoe laces in, so they don’t stick out.

Do you have a favorite pregame meal?

A chicken wrap from Sheetz is my go-to before every game.

Do you have any college plans?

I’m down to Westminster, Waynesburg and Penn State Behrend as my top three schools and I plan to play soccer.

Who is your favorite professional soccer player?

Cristiano Ronaldo. I love his foot skills and athleticism. Every time he’s on the ball, he’s dangerous.

Do you have a favorite professional soccer team?

Newcastle United and West Ham United

What’s your favorite school subject?

Chemistry. I am leaning toward studying that in college.

Who are your best friends on the team?

I spend a lot of time with Matt Taliani and Ephraim Duku, because they are in a lot of my classes. Bryson Andrews is my cousin, so I spend a lot of time with him, and my brother Chris, because I can’t really get away from him.

What’s your favorite TV show?

The Flash

What’s something interesting that people may not know about you?

When I was 13, I trained with West Ham United’s academy in Atlanta.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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