Dunmore’s Bridget Walsh Finishes Off DeSales Hoops Career in Style

Bridget Walsh action shotBy Steve Svetovich

Dunmore resident Bridget Walsh, Scranton Prep graduate, wrapped up her DeSales University basketball career in the “Sweet 16” tournament with her team losing to Ithaca, 76-75, in Brunswick, Maine, Friday, March 8.

Daughter of Michael and Cathy Walsh, Dunmore, Bridget played four years of Division III basketball for DeSales.

She dropped in 19 points, including 7-for-7 from the free throw line, in the nail biting loss to Ithaca.

DeSales advanced to the “Sweet 16” with its 22nd consecutive win over Middleburg.

The DeSales senior was a big part of the team in her junior season when she appeared in 27 games, including 18 starts, averaging 6.6 points per game. Bridget, a center-forward, averaged about nine points and nine rebounds and three blocks per game this season.

She became the school’s all-time shot blocker with 182, beating the previous mark of 155. Bridget broke she single season DeSales record for blocked shots with 80, beating the previous mark of 55.

Bridget is currently applying to different graduate schools where she would like to receive an assistantship in sports management or sports information. She would also like to be a graduate assistant women’s basketball coach. “That is a dream of mine,” she said. “I want to coach women’s college basketball.”

Bridget has a 3.3 grade point average at DeSales. She is editor-in-chief of “The Mintrel,” the campus newspaper. She was sports editor for the past two years.

Bridget Walsh team“I want to stay involved in college athletics,” she said. “I have been in love with college athletics ever since I got here. I would love to help student-athletes in the future. I want to get involved in sports information or management on the college level.”

The DeSales senior is a member of Character U, a program at the school that helps transition freshmen from high school to college life.

“It’s nice to see the kids grow,” she said.

The talented center-forward talked about the success of the team. “We played a lot of basketball this summer in preparation for the season,” she said. “We stressed defense and averaged a lot of points per game. A lot of our points came from the result of our defensive pressure. It was huge with our transition game. Our defense was a big part of our success.

“Our defense and connection on the court was the biggest reason for our success. We had three seniors leading the way and a great freshman class which was crucial coming in.”

DeSales, coached by Fred Richter, finished the season 27-3.

“We learned so much from coach Richter,” said Bridget. “He taught us not only about basketball, but to be a better person and a success in life. He teaches us what we need to do to run our lives after college and basketball.”

The senior stalwart said she owes a lot of her success to her parents.

“My parents taught me to make the most of opportunities and not take anything for granted. My parents both worked hard in life to help provide me with opportunities. They taught me to be the best version of myself.”

Bridget played four years of basketball at Scranton Prep and was first team All Conference as a senior.

She is a sports communications major with a minor in journalism and sports management at DeSales University.

Athlete of the Month: Mackenzie Black


Athlete of the Month Mackenzie Black is shown, center, signing for a full Division I gymnastics scholarship with West Virginia University.

By Steve Svetovich

Hard work and dedication pay off even to those who are the most modest of sorts.

Take Mackenzie Black, for instance.

The Dunmore high school senior accepted a Division I scholarship and a spot on the gymnastics team at West Virginia University.

Emilia Raynova, instructor at the United Sports Academy, Dunmore, made the announcement last month.

Daughter of Shanette Black and Thomas Nolan, MacKenzie was one of three local high school gymnasts who were accepted into a Division I college on a full athletic scholarship for the coming year.

The others were Adeline Rider of Scranton Prep and Donna Howell of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School. All earned spots on their respective gymnastic teams.

mackenziee“This is a great accomplishment,” said Raynova. “Not many gyms in the country are lucky enough to achieve the same results, especially having three seniors in the same year.

“We are so proud of our girls and their coaches. Only about 200 gymnasts in the nation receive a scholarship to a division 1 university every year and our girls have earned their spot for three of them.

“All three girls worked for this moment for over 10 years.”

MacKenzie, 17, signed her letter of intent early last month. She has been a gymnast at United States Sports Academy for the past 12 years.

MacKenzie, who has a 91 academic average at Dunmore, talked about her experience at the United States Sports Academy. “It’s a very welcoming environment,” she said. “It helps to keep us humble in terms of our success.

“I spend a lot of time there. I spend about 21 hours a week at the United States Sports Academy. The coaches there are like our second family.

MacKenzie said Raynova was initially her instructor. Her current coaches are Omar Egas and Sylvia Topalova.

“I learned everything from my coaches. Mr. Omar taught me that dedication is so important. Without it, you cannot go far in gymnastics.

“Sylvia teaches us how to be neater and control our anxiety.”

MacKenzie is very close to her mom. “My mom teaches me about modesty. She told me that if you do well, not everyone should know about it. Never brag about accomplishments. That keeps me level.”

The highly talented yet humble Dunmore senior talked about what is takes to be a good gymnast. “You need dedication and perseverance.”

She talked about her future goals.

“I would like to make it to the nationals and go to the West Virginia camp and help coach in the summer.

“I want to be successful in life, have a family and provide for them. I want to be able to provide for my mom in later years.”

Former Dunmore Pitcher Working on His Dream

By Steve Svetovich

Former Dunmore High School All Region pitcher Josh Zilla has a dream—to pitch in the big leagues. And he’s spent most of this summer in Florida working on making that dream a reality.

Son of Robert and Donna Zilla, Dunmore, Josh will be entering his sophomore year later this month as an Information Technology major at Keystone College, where he is a pitcher on the baseball team.

Josh Zilla, a pitcher with a dream of playing in the major leagues, is currently playing at Keystone College.

Josh Zilla, a Dunmore pitcher with a dream of playing in the major leagues, is currently playing at Keystone College.

Josh spent most of this summer pitching in the South Florida Collegiate League. His team played a 32-game schedule while Josh worked on developing a third pitch—a splitter.

The sophomore hurler played three years of varsity baseball at Dunmore High School, where he played four total years of baseball and four years of football. He was an all-star football player as well as a baseball all-star as a junior. He was an All Regional pitcher as a senior when he was named the Lackawanna League Division III Player of the Year. Josh was 7-0 with a minuscule 0.52 earned run average (ERA) as a senior pitcher. He fired a no-hitter and threw 24 consecutive scoreless innings at one point in the season. He struck out 61 batters.

Zilla pitched 14 innings in his freshman season at Keystone. He had a 2-0 record and impressive 1.90 ERA. He has a 3.0 grade point average at Keystone.

His coach at Keystone, Jamie Shevchik, recommended he learn a third pitch, and that is when Josh made his decision to play in the South Florida Collegiate League.

“He wanted me to work on a new pitch, a splitter,” said Zilla. “I worked on getting movement, getting it down and throwing it for strikes. I had a nice experience there learning a new pitch.”

Josh said he learned a lot from Shevchik in his freshman season.

“He teaches me to stay competitive and remain focused on the mound. Keep my mind straight and be more fluent with my delivery.”

The righty pitcher said coach Mark Finan and his assistants also taught him a lot at Dunmore.

“Coach Finan and his assistants were always telling me to be focused and keep my head in the game,” said Zilla. “They kept my mind straight and focused.”

Josh has been playing baseball since age five right up to Legion and now collegiate baseball. He loves the game and is spending the final month of his summer pitching for the Dunmore entry in the Dunmore Freedom collegiate summer league (formerly CSBL). Home games are played at Dunmore’s Sherwood Park.

“I want to keep getting better as a pitcher. I want to work on my control and velocity. I want to pick my grades up and work on getting my Information Technology degree, but that is a backup plan,” said Zilla. “My ultimate goal is to get drafted and pitch in the MLB. I want to pitch in the big leagues.”