TJ tennis player honored for positivity

Sunday, August 15, 2021 | 10:01 AM

Cindy Obiero was not just a reliable doubles player at Thomas Jefferson.

Obiero was recognized at the end of the 2020-21 school year as Western Pennsylvania’s “Most Positive Athlete” in girls tennis by the Positive Athlete organization.

“Cindy is a great choice for this award,” said Chuck Correll, TJ’s veteran tennis coach. “She has an incredible personality. The trait that stood out is her positive attitude. She wanted nothing handed to her. She worked very hard and was very coachable.

“She only played (varsity) tennis for two years but immediately had an impact on the team. Cindy taught the team how to win and lose with dignity. Very few beginners learn how to compete, but she was determined and was one of our top 10 players her first year. This is a great example of her athletic ability.”

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward is a spokesman for Positive Athlete, which recognizes student-athletes with high character and are team-oriented leaders who experienced winning and losing and have shown passion and caring for the school and community.

TJ assistant softball coach Skylar Meier, also a former girls basketball assistant who played hoops at TJ and Bethany College, nominated Obiero for the prestigious award.

“Skylar encouraged all of my endeavors and was the perfect example of what makes a positive athlete,” Obiero said. “One morning in June, I woke up to a congratulating text from her showcasing how I had won the award. I truly was not expecting to win because I knew there had been many other applicants who went above and beyond in their sport.

“I was extremely grateful to learn that others felt my positivity was commendable.”

Obiero has been a sports enthusiast for as long as she can remember but didn’t play tennis until she reached high school.

“As an incoming freshman, I did not know the first thing about tennis,” Obiero said. “Two of my best friends planned to play tennis, and they thought it would be something fun to do together.

“I’ve loved sports all my life, and I was ready for something new. Lucky for me I had fantastic coach, Chuck Correll, willing to teach me everything I know. Each year, my determination to move up the player roster grew. By the end of my sophomore year, I was a varsity alternate. During my junior and senior years, I rotated between first and second doubles on varsity.”

Obiero and Alyssa Polakovic were doubles players as seniors last season, although not paired together.

“Cindy was a varsity player her senior year and lettered at second doubles,” Correll said. “Alyssa and Cindy were very strong doubles players. Alyssa was very fast and had great court coverage. Cindy had a strong serve and was dominant at the net.”

One of the career highlights for Obiero and the Jaguars occurred during her junior season when the TJ girls advanced to the WPIAL playoffs.

“We all felt a sense of accomplishment knowing how hard we trained to get better from the season before,” she said.

Obiero competed in track and field for two years before switching to basketball in her final two years of high school. She participated in the discus, javelin and shot put events in track. In girls basketball, Obiero was named as one of three varsity captains in 2020-21.

Outside of sports, Obiero graduated with a 4.2 GPA, served as class treasurer for four years and was treasurer of the TJ versus Cancer club for two years. She was elected vice president of the AP Humanities club in 2020-21 and also was a member of the Interact Club and Big Jag Little Cub.

This fall, Obiero plans to attend Pitt and study rehabilitation science. She hopes to work in sports medicine — and make a positive impact — in the future.


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