By Steve Svetovich
Dunmore senior soccer goalie Olivia Leo knows how to turn a lemon into lemonade.
The stalwart scholar-athlete knew it would be a difficult senior year with the COVID-19 pandemic in full force, but she worked and studied hard, remained positive and was awarded with an All Regional selection as a soccer goalkeeper.
Daughter of Lisa and Mario Leo, Dunmore, the senior goalkeeper is captain of the Lady Bucks soccer team. She recorded 89 saves and had eight clean sheets while leading the team to a 9-6-1 record and a first round Division 2 playoff win. This was her first All Regional selection.
“I was shocked and did not expect this,” Olivia, 17, said. “I was really excited to end the year on such a good note. It is an honor to be both a first-team all-star and All Regional. I owe this honor to my teammates and coaches.”
Olivia’s soccer coach at Dunmore is Dan Badyrka. “I give him a lot of credit,” she said. “He made me a much better soccer player. He made the whole team better. We got him as a coach this year and honestly he really got our team well prepared for each game. He is one of the best coaches I ever had. I learned a lot from him.
“He really loves the game and you can tell.”
Olivia is a four-year member of the Dunmore Lady Bucks soccer team. She has a 93 academic average and is a member of the National Honor Society. She is the treasurer of SADD and a member of the French Club and Art Club.
The All Regional goalkeeper has received an offer to play soccer at Fisher College in Boston, Massachusetts, but is undecided on a college choice at present. Olivia wants to major in criminal justice and eventually become a police officer.
She has learned a lot about life lessons from her parents. “My mom and dad tell me to take more risks in life. They tell me to live the life I want. And if I do that, it will be a good life.”
Olivia said she likes listening to music in her spare time and would like to see Hallsy, a pop-punk group, in concert.
She talked about her future goals. “I want to go to college, play more soccer, graduate and become a police officer. That would be a nice life for me with a future husband and kids. I want to live my life happy.”
Olivia, articulate and kind hearted, said the past year living with a world wide COVID pandemic has not been easy, but she remains positive. “It has been very difficult to not be in class and get the teacher’s input right there. But the teachers are going through these hard times too and are working through it like us. We are all trying to stay positive and get past it.”
She has enjoyed her Dunmore experience despite the COVID setbacks the school district has faced. “This year has been very difficult not to be in class as a senior, but overall I loved it,” she said. “I have been at the same complex since pre school. My best friend, Alexandra Santasiero, and I have been together from pre school right through senior year. We are stuck together like glue. I love it at Dunmore. I’ve made my best friends here from grade school on up.”
Olivia, very well spoken, talked about what it takes to excel as a soccer goalkeeper in high school. “You need to rely a lot and have trust in your teammates,” she said. “It is not an easy position to play. With trust in your teammates, it is easier to do what I do. There is a lot of practice involved. You really have to know the game.”
She continued to credit her teammates for her own success. “I could not have done any of this without my teammates,” the humble and team oriented senior said. “The other three seniors on the team – Gia Levis, Abby Springer and Anna Talutto – and I started freshman year together and we all grew closer through senior year.
“I would not have accomplished any of this without them or the others on the team or my coaches. I am grateful to all of them and to be a part of this team for the four years.”