Foreign exchange student makes his mark on stage, court at Penn-Trafford

Sunday, May 14, 2023 | 11:01 AM

When Sohta Miyagawa arrived at Penn-Trafford for his junior year, little was known about his talents.

But Miyagawa has surprised many his athletic and artistic abilities.

Not only is he excellent in the classroom, the foreign exchange student from Japan was an experienced volleyball player and an entertainer.

Miyagawa took advantage of the opportunities offered at Penn-Trafford. He was a member of the bowling team and when he wasn’t preparing for the school musical, he was helping the volleyball team win a section title.

Oh yes, Miyagawa was one of the leads of the school musical, “The Little Mermaid.”

“Everyone welcomed me,” Miyagawa said. “It was hard at first because English isn’t my first language, but I was a pretty good singer.”

Miyagawa wasn’t handed the lead because he was an exchange student, according to the musical producer Jen Haberberger, an art teacher at the school. He earned it.

“He has a voice of an angel,” Haberberger said. “In December, we held tryouts for the lead and no one knew who he was. He did great. When he opened his mouth, everyone knew.

“He is so charismatic. He was the obvious choice to play Prince Eric. Everyone loved him. His aunt and cousin actually flew in from California to watch him perform and were impressed with how nice people are here.”

Haberberger said she had a friend help Miyagawa understanding some of the meanings of the words in his part.

“Everyone was helpful,” Haberberger said. “(Penn-Trafford volleyball coach Jim Schall) was great in allowing him to rehearse and prepare. Sohta is a very kind and charming person and he is always smiling.”

On the court, Schall said he didn’t know what to expect or if Miyagawa would help his team.

“I knew had he played volleyball in the past,” Schall said. “He missed a lot of stuff early and then he started helping out defensively. He is a pretty good server.”

Miyagawa missed a week with an illness and missed a key match with Norwin.

Schall said he hopes Miyagawa can work himself back into the mix.

“I played volleyball in Japan,” Miyagawa said. “I’m not a good hitter or setter. The ball is different here. I’m just glad I got the opportunity.”

Penn-Trafford is preparing for the upcoming WPIAL playoffs and Miyagawa would like to help.

The Warriors were scheduled to play in a tournament May 13 at Shaler before the start of the WPIAL postseason.

Schall said Miyagawa wasn’t planning to return to Penn-Trafford after the season and would complete his high school career in Japan.

But for the year he spent at Penn-Trafford, he became someone to remember.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at


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