By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor
EVERY YEAR we receive a photo from the Hermitage School District of a group of student-athletes that I am thrilled to receive and run in the paper.
The photo is of Hickory High School “tri-athletes,” boys and girls who participate in sports during each of the fall, winter and spring seasons. But there is more to it than that. Each of these athletes also must maintain an 85 percent B average during the first three 9-week grading periods of the year.
Academics and athletics provide a tremendous combination for boys and girls. While you get the book learning in academics, you also get other valuable lessons from sports including working as a team, establishing relationships, developing sportsmanship and much more. When you combine everything you produce a well-rounded young person who has a bright future.
Too often today we see kids who excel in athletics and think that it is their way out. Yes it can be. But only if you combine it with schoolwork. It is sad to see some of our area athletes head off to college, only to be out in a year or two because they could not handle the academics.
When I speak to young athletes I always stress that you should feel just as good about getting an A on a math or English test as you should scoring a touchdown, making a basket or having your hand raised on the mat. True winners do well in both academics and athletics.
I always laugh when I ask kids how many of them plan to play professional sports some day. A vast majority of them raise their hands. Then I tell them that about only 1 in every 10,000 high school athletes will be pros someday.
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association has pathetic academic standards concerning athletic eligibility for high school kids. A kid must have passing grades each Friday in four courses. That means a kid could have Ds in four courses and be flunking three others and still play. Come on!
Unfortunately, some schools simply follow the PIAA standards rather that require stricter rules. To me, a school should require at least a C average in overall classwork. That’s really not too much to ask.
School districts need to force kids to want to achieve better. Playing sports is a privilege not a right and the real purpose of school is to get an education.
But another important thing about the Hermitage group is that they compete in more than one sport. Too many kids today want to concentrate on one sport, thinking they will someday earn a Division I scholarship or eventually become a pro.
College coaches whom I’ve talked with in the past actually have told me they like their recruits to play more than one sport because they like to look at how they handle themselves in other venues.
Not only that. Many athletes do better in school during the sports seasons than they do in off-seasons. That’s because there is a certain level of discipline that takes over and at least in college, you are more focused on everything you do.
So congratulations to the 77 Hickory High athletes who were honored as tri-athletes. Following is the list:
Seniors: Bryce Benic, Brianna Colbert, Breanna Garthwaite, Joe Hines, Kevin Jancsar, Jeremy Orlik, Jarret Sonoga, Marcus Sonoga, Isaac Sutley, Mark Wagner, Julia White, Derek Work.
Juniors: Claire Abdul-Malak, Bailey Brown, Anthony Cannone, Patrick Durisko, Kenny Ezi-Ashi, Sophia Fustos, Alyssa Kostka, Brady Leunis, Bobby Marzano, Nathan Mastrian, Brett McBride, Justin Peidle, Jenna Placzek, Jordan Sipos.
Sophomores: Jackie Abraham, Austin Aikins, Jacob Andrzejewski, M.K. Bair, Rita Baldarelli, Madison Bell, Coulter Biship, Kyle Boyd, Billy Colbert, Noah Cole, Danielle Collier, James Dorko, Hanna Fox, Cali Free, MacKenzie Gruber, Kevin Hartenstien, Kyra Henderson, Gerald Koledin, Kristen LaCamera, Nicole Lacava, Elena Marchand, Evan Montgomery, Richard Murphy, Andrew Pursel, Victoria Russo, Amanda Saltsgiver, Sara Suler, Jackie White, Hope Wilterdink, Casey Zreliak.
Freshmen: Anna Abate, Nathan Aikins, Josh Andrzejewski, Nick Arp, Lexi Bible, Cailen Blaire, Haley Boyd, Paige Brown, Joey DeJulia, Alura Dillon, Dylan Fox, Olivia Fustos, Lauren Garthwaite, Katie Gustas, Malayna Mason, Abbey Murphy, Anthony Nardone, Jordan Peidle, Colton Pellis, Kaitlyn Slezak, Robert Thomas.
Lynn Saternow is sports editor of The Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.