Valley News Dispatch girls athlete of the year: Shemanski leaves lasting legacy at Freeport

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Sunday, June 28, 2020 | 3:41 PM


From the time she stepped on the soccer field at Freeport in fall of 2016 to when she put on her Yellowjackets girls basketball uniform for the final time this season, Sidney Shemanski was a difference maker.

As a freshman, she became a starter in basketball and soccer, helping lead both teams to the PIAA playoffs, and captured gold in the Class AA 800-meter run at the WPIAL track and field championships.

The accomplishments and accolades kept rolling in.

Shemanski was a scoring force for the Freeport girls soccer team this season as she led the Alle-Kiski Valley with 38 goals.

“Shemanski is just such a naturally gifted athlete,” Freeport girls soccer coach Brittni Grenninger said. “Every time she stepped on a field, whether it was practice or for a game, she was zoned in the entire time and outworked every player on the field. There will be a lot to adjust to without her. You just don’t replace a player like that.”

She found the back of the net several times in key section matchups with rivals Deer Lakes and Burrell and rose to the occasion with four goals in the postseason.

She scored twice in a 2-1 WPIAL first-round win over Waynesburg and netted her team’s first goal in a 2-1 overtime upset of top seed Hopewell in the quarterfinals. She earned all-section and All-WPIAL recognition.

Shemanski dealt with illness and back issues at the start of the basketball season, but she was able to rally and lead the Yellowjackets in several statistical categories, including points (12.5), rebounds (8.5), assists (3.5) and steals (3.6) per game. She surpassed 1,000 points for her career.

Shemanski scored 16 points and added 10 rebounds as Freeport came within two points of upsetting No. 2 Southmoreland in the WPIAL quarterfinals. She added 12 boards as the Yellowjackets took North Catholic to the limit in the first round of states.

In a change from previous springs, Shemanski said she had planned on forgoing her final track and field season.

“I know that was surprising to a lot of people,” said Shemanski, who will play basketball at Seton Hill. “It was a tough decision, but I just wanted to focus on lifting and preparing for my first college basketball season.”

But with her successes this past year in soccer and basketball, which earned her Valley News Dispatch first-team all-star honors after each season, Shemanski was selected the VND’s athlete of the year for the second year in a row.

She earns the honor out of a group of contenders that included Yellowjackets girls volleyball standout and Shemanski’s basketball teammate Madeline Clark, Knoch WPIAL girls tennis champion Laura Greb and Fox Chapel WPIAL and PIAA swimming champion Sophie Shao.

What moment or moments stand out the most from your senior soccer season?

There are so many. I would say our playoff games, especially beating No. 1 Hopewell. We had all the hope and determination in the world to beat them. We just all came together and didn’t give up and were able to accomplish what we were working for. That was great.

What were the key factors that led to the girls basketball team having another successful season, which included a section runner-up finish and a berth in states?

There were three of us who started (at Freeport) since our freshman year, the Clark twins and I, and we just grew so much over the years. That experience was valuable and having an amazing overall team of talented players this year, it really brought us together.

What was it about Seton Hill overall and the basketball team specifically that made it the right fit for you?

Coach (Mark) Katarski called me after the last playoff game we had, and he told me I was good and wanted me to come play at Seton Hill. I had never thought about Seton Hill. I didn’t know what major I wanted to go into. I made my decision so late. After I realized they had a physician’s assistant program, I shadowed a physician’s assistant and realized it was the perfect fit for me. With basketball, I knew I wanted to keep playing. I loved everything about my visit, and I knew I would be making the right choice.

Was there any thought during the recruiting process of playing multiple sports in college?

It was either running track at Duquesne, soccer at Slippery Rock or basketball at Seton Hill with many others mixed in. It was always back and forth. That was one of the reasons I made my decision so late. I had a lot to think about.

Is there a possibility of eventually picking up soccer or track and field at Seton Hill?

With my physician’s assistant program, it’s a five-year program, and it’s very rigorous. I don’t think it would be good if I doubled up on a sport. It could possibly work, but I think this is the time to just focus on one sport and be the best I can be at it. It will be good for me to see what I can do working and competing year round at just basketball while focusing on my education.

How weird of a feeling will it be to not compete in a fall or spring season after numerous years of being a three-sport athlete in high school?

I was in such a habit of going from one season to another and knowing how to balance each sport with my schoolwork. I was in that groove, but basketball will keep me busy, and we start preseason basketball workouts the fourth day of classes.

What are your plans for the summer?

I’ve been working a full schedule at (Natrona Heights) Dunham’s and trying to get a workout in every day. We got a huge basketball workout packet in the mail, and it lays out all of the weeks for us. It’s really nice and organized.

Are there any vacation plans set for this summer?

I am going to Williamsburg, Va., and then on to the Outer Banks. I know there are a lot of safety measures in place and things that are necessary to do, but it will be nice to see the beach a little bit.

Do you have any favorite shows on Netflix or otherwise that you can’t miss?

There is this YouTube channel, where these two people, Trev and Chels, travel and go on vacations. I can’t wait to travel a lot when I am older. That’s basically all I’ve been watching. They are partnered with Royal Caribbean, and they get paid to go on cruises. They give a tour of the cruise. It’s a lot of fun.

You are a hockey fan, and Sidney Crosby is your favorite athlete. How do you feel the Penguins will do when the NHL returns?

I think they will do really well and have a chance at winning the title. I haven’t been following them as much lately because I’ve been so busy. We will get (college) discounts to go to their games, and I bet I will be at a ton of their games.

What advice would you give younger athletes who are entering high school?

I would say that no matter who or what gets in your way, just keep doing what your heart wants you to do or what you set out to do and give it your all. Enjoy every moment because it goes by so fast. There’s too much focus sometimes placed on winning this game or that game, but it really comes down to the memories you’ve made and the teammates you have who will be friends for life.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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