Athlete of the Month: Leahy O’Conner

Athlete of the Month - Leahy O'Connor2By Steve Svetovich

Leahy O’Connor knows how to seize an opportunity. Take his experience at Holy Cross High School, for instance. Leahy enjoyed Holy Cross to the fullest.

Son of James and April O’Connor, Leahy, 18, was a four-year member of both the baseball and basketball teams at Holy Cross. When he wasn’t practicing or playing a game, Leahy concentrated on academics and will graduate with a highly impressive 3.9 grade point average.

Leahy will attend college at the University of Pittsburgh where he will study pre-law in the fall.

“I have been looking at the University of Pittsburgh for a long time,” he said. “My dad and my aunt both went to colleges in Pittsburgh. I have been to Pittsburgh a lot and love the city. I am really looking forward to it.”

The scholar-athlete learned his work ethic from his parents. “My parents taught me the value of hard work and about how to overcome failure in order to succeed,” Leahy said.

Leahy was named honorable mention as a junior and was selected first-team all-league as a senior for basketball. 

Athlete of the Month LeahyHe averaged 12.5 points per game as a small forward this past year for the Crusaders under veteran basketball coach Al Callejas.

He scored 650 career points at Holy Cross.

A superb center fielder on the baseball team, he batted .273 as a junior. He was disappointed over the cancellation of his senior baseball season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was devastating not to play baseball,” he said. “We thought our team would strongly compete for the league and district title and even go further. It was tough not to be able to play as a senior.”

The hard working senior said he learned a lot from Holy Cross basketball coach Al Callejas. “He teaches you how to overcome difficulty. And that is how you become a success.”

Leahy also enjoyed playing for Holy Cross veteran baseball coach Sandy Menichetti. “He is a lot of fun to play for. He teaches us how to enjoy what we are doing while still working hard. He wants us to have fun, but still give our best effort.”

Leahy said his best academic subject is English. He is a member of Student Council, the National Honor Society and the History Club at Holy Cross.

He is very proud of the Holy Cross basketball team’s achievements this past year in winning the league and district titles and advancing to the second round in the state playoffs.

“Our hard work really paid off,” he said. “We worked hard the entire summer to get ready for the season. We were in the gym 10 months of the year working extremely hard. Our team success is really special because we put in the effort and it paid off.”

Leahy, who is a huge fan of the late Tom Petty, said he loved his four years at Holy Cross.

“It was just a great experience,” he said. “The atmosphere is the best. Everybody accepted me there. Seniors became friends with me when I was a freshman there. Likewise, I made sure to make friends with the freshmen when I was a senior. 

“That is the kind of school it is. It is close knit.”

And Leahy is not the kind of a young man who sits still. He is keeping busy during the COVID-19 pandemic studying and working. He works at a gas station in Archbald and does some landscaping work at Marywood University. 

“I’m trying to save some money for college,” he said. “I’m looking forward to Pittsburgh.”

Athlete of the Month: Karl Kincel

By Steve SvetovichAthlete of the Month Karl Kincel athlete

The Dunmore Bucks football team lost its first two games this season, but one of the positives has been the performance of junior linebacker-fullback Karl Kincel. 

Kincel is leading the Bucks in tackles at press time and rushed for 56 yards on nine carries in his team’s 30-17 loss to Mid Valley in the second game of the season.

Son of Karl, Sr., and Danielle Kincel, the hard-nosed junior has been a member of the Dunmore football team for the past three years. He is a member of the track and field team where he performs the 100, 200 and 4 by 1. He is a guard on the Dunmore basketball team. 

He is a member of the Spanish Club, Engineering Club and has an impressive 96 academic average. His best subject is Math.

The scholar-athlete said his parents are always very positive influences.

“My parents teach me to keep a level head and always be humble.”

He said new Dunmore head football coach Kevin McHale has been a strong influence.

“Coach McHale tells us we have to work hard for anything we get. Nothing comes easy.”

The junior stalwart said retired Dunmore football coach Jack Henzes visited the team before its first two games. “It was awesome to see him. He looked great. It’s nice to see he is there for our players.”

Henzes coached Karl in his freshman season.

Karl said he would like to study engineering in college and would like to attend Penn State or Temple University.

“My future goal would be to study engineering in college and possibly play college football. I want to graduate and possibly become an engineer.”

Karl said he enjoys listening to hip hop and rap music in his spare time and would like to see Little Baby, Drake, or Meek Mill in concert. 

He talked about what it takes to excel at the linebacker and fullback positions in high school football. 

“To be a good linebacker, ” he said, “you need to have good instincts and be able to read the ball.

“To be a good fullback, you need to be hard nosed and willing to take a hit. You need to be able to make a good block too.”

Intelligent and thoughtful, he talked about the team goals. “First, we want to rebound from our first two losses. We want to work hard in practice and then go out there and beat Carbondale.

“Our goal for the season is to go out and win a state championship.”

He praised Dunmore High School. “Dunmore has been great to me. They teach you to be a leader and a good person. Dunmore has done a lot of great things for me. It has been an awesome experience.”

Athlete of the Month: Jenna Bradley

Jenna BradleyBy Steve Svetovich

The world is her oyster.

Holy Cross junior softball pitcher Jenna Bradley is putting together a season for the ages as she pitches her team to the district finals against Northwest.

Daughter of Josh and Jenn Bradley, the talented junior had a 17-3 pitching record at press time. She totaled an astounding 272 strikeouts and a miniscule 1.02 ERA at press time.

Jenna fired a shutout, 2-0, with 16 strikeouts in the district semifinal win over Mountain View.

She has a double figure strikeout total in every game she pitched this season except a shortened three-inning contest.

Jenna also is tearing the league apart as a hitter. She was hitting .533 with seven homers and 25 RBIs at press time.

And Jenna excels in the classroom too. She has a 4.06 grade point average with dual enrollment at Marywood University as an IHM scholar. She will earn 18 college credits through the IHM scholar program when she graduates high school.

She is junior class president and a member of the student council advisory board at Holy Cross. She is a member of the National Honor Society and a member of the foreign languages club.

Jenna has committed to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for the fall of 2020. She will play softball and study sports management with a goal of getting into the Eisenberg School of Business.

Jenna, who used to ride horses competitively, said she owes a lot of success to her parents. “They tell me to put the work in and good things will happen. At the end of the day you will be successful if you work hard. They tell me to play hard all the time and work equally hard in school. They are always there for me.”

Status-FastPitch-Game-Leather-SoftballJenna said Holy Cross veteran baseball coach Joe Ross, who came from a baseball family in Green Ridge, teaches her a lot.

“He tells us to not get wrapped up in the nonsense. Take one pitch at a time. Enjoy the game. Keep things simple. Put your work in. Have fun.”

Jenna, an All Regional selection as a pitcher last season, also plays first base where she was honorable mention as a freshman. She is widely considered one of the top softball players in the area.

She attributes the success of the team to her teammates. “We fight right to the end. A lot of people underestimated us because we are young. We did this playing for each other and not as individuals. We make each other better.

Jenna, well spoken, confident and humble in nature, talked about her personal success. “I play because I love the game. It keeps me level headed. I surround myself with people and teammates who make me better.

“I have played through adversity and overcomed it. When someone says you can’t do something or accomplish something, you work even harder.”

Jenna said she likes music and would like to see country artist George Strait in concert.

With a strong intellect, she talked about her future goals.

“Well, I am committed to play Division I softball at the University of Massachusetts and want to perform well. I would like to complete my degree and then get into marketing maybe for NIke or Under Armor. Eventually, I would like to own and operate my own sports facility where I could coach and be a part of a recruiting process for other young softball players. I would like to help develop and recruit young players. That would be my ultimate goal.”