Ward to present 26 high school student athletes with Positive Athlete Awards

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PITTSBURGH (April 29, 2014) – The Senator John Heinz History Center will host the third annual Western Pennsylvania Positive High School Athlete Awards this Sat., May 3 at 12:30 p.m. Student athletes representing 26 different boys’ and girls’ high school sports along with two coaches and one high school will be honored by current and former local professional athletes, including Hines Ward, Roberto Clemente, Jr., and Olympic women’s hockey goalie Brianne McLaughlin. Over $10,000 in scholarships will be awarded to the winners.

Nearly 1,000 nominations from coaches, principals, athletic directors, teachers, and parents were submitted by a total of 125 Western Pennsylvania high schools. Positive Athlete was created as a movement for more positivity in youth sports. In addition to excellence on the field, each nominated Positive Athlete was required to show characteristics such as an optimistic attitude, teammate encouragement, servant leadership, heart for others, ability to admit imperfections, giving 100 percent all the time, and realizing the team as more important than the individual.

“We hope this program focuses the spotlight on how important a positive attitude is not only in sports, but in life as well,” said Ward. “The most successful businessmen and women are positive individuals, so we’re using sports to help instill those characteristics at a young age. Positivity is a life skill that will help any young person deal with relationships, obstacles, and opportunities.”

Below is a list of the 2013-2014 award winners:

Baseball – Matt Gunsallus – Plum High School

Basketball (Boys) – Marcus Malara – Mt. Pleasant High School

Basketball (Girls) – Allison Bartoszewicz – Vincentian Academy

Cheerleading – Stephanie Mandella – South Allegheny High School

Cross-Country (Boys) – Ryan Lerda – South Fayette High School

Cross-Country (Girls) – Elizabeth Manickas – Neshanock High School

Field Hockey – Anna Romeo – Norwin High School

Football – Cole Blake – Moon Area High School

Golf (Boys) – Thomas Steve – Upper St Clair High School

Golf (Girls) – Kelsay Soom – Laurel Highlands High School

Gymnastics – Megan Tamilia – Moon High School

Ice Hockey – Kellen Carleton – Pittsburgh Central Catholic

Lacrosse (Boys) – Caleb Reynolds – Mt. Lebanon High School

Lacrosse (Girls) – Lia Vinciguerra – Blackhawk High School

Soccer (Boys) – Alex Hannigan – Canon McMillan

Soccer (Girls) – Deanna Dicesere – Greensburg Central Catholic

Softball – Alexis Roenigk – Freeport Area High School

Swimming (Boys) – Zachary Buerger – North Allegheny High School

Swimming (Girls) – Erin Shepard – Plum High School

Tennis (Boys) – Matt Milkus – Springdale High School

Tennis (Girls) – Kaitlyn Schaffer – Fox Chapel High School

Track & Field (Boys) – Luke Smorey – Baldwin High School

Track & Field (Girls) – Lydia Dennis – Mars High School

Volleyball (Boys) – Daniel Conwell – Norwin High School

Volleyball (Girls) – Cheyenne Seik – South Side High School

Wrestling – Jacob Beistel – Southmoreland High School

Girls Coach – Katie Smolter – Seneca Valley High School (Girls’ Tennis)

Boys Coach – Bob Palko – West Allegheny High School (Football)

In addition to the individual awards, Highlands High School will be honored as the Highmark Most Positive High School, in recognition of how the school came together following the tragic death of football star Ryan Richards.

As a special addition to this year’s award ceremony, Mayor Robert Brooks of Murrysville will present FR PROUD t-shirts to all of the high school and celebrity athletes as a thank you to the entire Pittsburgh community for their support of Franklin Regional High School. A group photo of all of the athletes in their FR PROUD t-shirts will cap the award presentations.

The following scholarships will be awarded to seven of the aforementioned athletes:

Mylan Labs “Male and Female Positive Athletes of the Year” – Given to a male and female athlete of the year. The winners will each receive a $2,500 college scholarship.

“Jeff Boynton Memorial Scholarship” – Given to the Positive High School Athlete who best exemplifies the former Plum High School star who always put his team above himself. The winner will receive a $2,200 college scholarship (Jeff’s number was #22).

UPMC Sports Medicine “Comeback Player” Award – Given to the Positive High School Athlete who has overcome serious injury to make a positive impact on his or her team and teammates. The winner will receive a $1,000 college scholarship.

Duquesne Light “Positive Energy Award” – Given to the Positive High School Athlete who adds energy to his or her team during games no matter what the scoreboard says, and brings the same energy to every practice. The winner will receive a $1,000 college scholarship.

VESLA 360 “Iron Man Award” – Given to the Positive High School Athlete who through strength training and preparation was able to stay healthy and strong during their season and provides an example of durability and resiliency while performing at the highest levels. The winner will receive a $1,000 college scholarship.

Knichel Logistics “Title IX Award” – Given to the female Positive High School Athlete who has shown amazing leadership to her entire school. The winner will receive a $1,000 college scholarship.

“We hope this program focuses the spotlight on how important a positive attitude is not only in sports, but in life as well,” said Roberto Clemente, Jr. “My father’s legacy will always be remembered for his heart for others, something that ultimately cost him his life”.

Positive Athlete, a subsidiary of parent company Celebrate Positive, LLC, is a group of high-character professional athletes who have teamed up to promote the benefits of positivity to young athletes around the world. These athletes believe it is crucial to begin shaping the futures of young athletes for life skills beyond athletic competition. Positive Athlete Pittsburgh’s website (http://pittsburgh.positiveathlete.org) is designed to tell positive stories about the kind of role models our young athletes should aspire to be. MSA Sports is an official media partner of Positive Athlete Pittsburgh.

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