Positive Athlete Pittsburgh honors student-athletes with scholarships, awards

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 | 12:38 AM

The Sen. John Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum provided the setting Monday evening for the eighth annual Positive High School Athlete Awards.

Student-athletes representing 30 boys and girls high school sports from throughout western Pennsylvania, along with two coaches and North Allegheny High School, were recognized and celebrated by former Steelers player Hines Ward.

“I circle this date on my calendar every year because I get a chance to meet kids who inspire me to be a better person,” Ward said.

More than $16,000 in scholarships were presented to the award winners.

Positive Athlete Pittsburgh officials said they received more than 1,000 nominations from coaches, principals, athletic directors, teachers and parents representing 150 high schools in the region.

In addition to accomplishments in competition, the nominated Positive Athletes were to show characteristics such as an optimistic attitude, teammate encouragement, the ability to admit imperfections, giving 100 percent in all occasions and putting the team over personal goals.

“These kids are approaching life the right way with a positive attitude,” Ward said. “They are involved in charitable causes, have already learned the meaning of giving back at an early age, and many have overcome difficult circumstances and remained positive.”

Award winners for each sport:

Football: Andrew Engel, Canon-McMillan

Girls Volleyball: Julia Fiedor, Thomas Jefferson

Boys Volleyball: Nick Bridges, North Allegheny

Softball: Elizabeth Ohorodnyk, Beaver Falls

Boys Cross Country: Darion Gregory, Smethport Area

Girls Cross Country: Elizabeth Simms, Butler

Cheerleading: Isabella Stoll, Plum

Boys Basketball: Leonard Robinson III, Clairton

Girls Basketball: Kaitlyn Lyons., Central Valley

Wrestling: Matthew Ferraro, North Catholic

Boys Swimming: Brent Brewster, Fox Chapel

Girls Swimming: Aria Eppinger, Winchester Thurston

Gymnastics: Hannah Schepner, Hampton

Boys Soccer: Connor Anderson, Pine-Richland

Girls Soccer: Julia Chakos, Trinity

Boys Lacrosse: Daniel Kovalan, Mount Lebanon

Girls Lacrosse: Samantha Louis, South Fayette

Boys Tennis: Khalil Frazier, Blackhawk

Girls Tennis: Ashley Pesarsick, Norwin

Boys Track: Hunter Boyd, Mars

Girls Track: Mia Anthony, Rochester

Boys Golf: Gregory Hensh, Laurel Highlands

Girls Golf: Lexi Tofanelli, Seneca Valley

Baseball: Dominic Giallonardo, Mount Pleasant

Field Hockey: Alena Lateef, The Ellis School

Ice Hockey: Bailey Julian, Hempfield Area

Boys Multi-Sport: Gregory Guzzo, Valley

Girls Multi-Sport: Kierra Shreffler, Kiski Area

Rowing: Kyle Pollock, Upper St. Clair

Dance: Madalyn Gorgacz, Union

Boys Coach: Darryl Wiley, Nazareth Prep

Girls Coach: Jane Bock, Brownsville

North Allegheny was recognized as the Most Positive High School for its support of the Positive Athlete Pittsburgh program, including the high number of nominations it submits each year.

High school coaches honored were Jane Bock, the longtime softball coach at Brownsville, with the Girls Coach of the Year Award; and Darryl Wiley, the bowling coach at Nazareth Prep, with the Boys Coach of the Year Award.

In addition to the scholarships awarded to the athletes in each of the numerous sports, a select number also received other scholarships.

Butler senior Elizabeth Simms and Canon-McMillan senior Andrew Engel were selected the Male and Female Positive Athletes of the Year, respectively. Each received a $5,000 scholarship.

“This is such an amazing honor and a special feeling,” said Simms, who will attend Davidson College in North Carolina with plans to study biomedical engineering on a pre-med track.

“All those here have done so many positive things in their lives, and it’s an honor to be recognized with them.”

Ashley Pesarsick from Norwin was presented the Title IX Award and a $1,000 college scholarship for showing leadership to her entire school.

The Comeback Player Awards with $1,000 scholarships were given to Fox Chapel’s Kate Carnevale and North Catholic’s Matthew Ferraro for their ability to overcome serious injury to make a positive impact on their teams and teammates.

Thomas Jefferson’s Julia Fiedor was selected the winner of the Positive Solutions Award and a $1,000 scholarship. The award is presented each year to a student-athlete who has helped others on their team and in their school and/or community create a positive solution to a difficult situation.

The Jeff Boynton Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Valley’s Gregory Guzzo for putting his teams first as the late Plum football standout did during his high school days. Guzzo receives a $2,200 scholarship, reflective of Boynton’s No. 22 jersey.

The award winners will be recognized at Tuesday’s Pirates game at PNC Park.

“This evening is about the different stories of the student-athletes,” Positive Athlete Pittsburgh’s Scott Pederson said. “Some of the kids have overcome things, and others have given back in significant ways. Every year, we get more and more inspiring stories that show what this is all about. When you get to meet the people behind the stories, it’s truly an incredible experience.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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