Penn Hills athletes participate in WPIAL Sportsmanship Summit

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Sunday, November 20, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Getting a chance to look at the past while keeping an eye on the near future provided Penn Hills junior Hannah Pugliese with an opportunity for reflection.

Pugliese was one of six Penn Hills athletes who represented the school at the WPIAL’s 13th annual Summit on Sportsmanship on Nov. 16 at the Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum.

“It was a cool set-up,” Pugliese said. “We were able to go through the different levels and see some of the WPIAL teams there. They are also adding a display for (Penn Hills graduate) Bill Fralic. I’ll want to come back and see that.”

Penn Hills athletic director Stephanie Strauss nominated Luke Hoolahan (soccer/swimming/volleyball), Carter Lance (football), Brice Peeler (basketball), Caroline McDevitt (soccer), London Irish (volleyball/soccer) and Pugliese.

The headline speaker was Roberto Clemente Jr., son of former Pirates standout and Baseball Hall of Famer Robert Clemente.

When it comes to sportsmanship, Peeler believes kids getting experience playing sports at a young age helps. He picked up his love of basketball while playing at the Penn HIlls YMCA. When the YMCA closed, there was a void in the community as no one else stepped in to serve youth players in the community.

There is a push from local volunteers, which started last year, to get a program up and running to do skills camps a few nights a week. They are hoping to get a full in-house program started within the next few years.

“I think we need to get kids into sports at younger ages,” Peeler said. “That’s when people’s minds develop. When I was younger, I started playing at the YMCA, which was where I developed my love for basketball. A lot of the kids in Penn Hills now don’t have the same privilege.”

There has been an emphasis on sportsmanship nationwide over the past few years. Due to a number of reasons, including abuse and low pay, many sports are suffering from a shortage of officials. Pugliese, who also plays on the AAU circuit for basketball, said helping to change the culture relies on everyone involved.

“People just have to have more positive energy,” Pugliese said.

Peeler, who played three sports growing up, enjoyed the event.

“Sportsmanship is a goal that we all have together,” Peeler said. “We want to try and work together toward a positive goal.”

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