Mia Chiaro Named Scholar-Athlete of the Year by LIAA

Mia Chiaro2By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore High School graduating senior Mia Chiaro is the recipient of the Lackawanna Interscholastic Athletic Association (LIAA) female scholar-athlete of the year award.

“I was really excited when I heard about this,” Mia said. “It was a big moment for me and everyone else because of all the disappointments we had in sports this year due to COVID-19. It was nice to be recognized for something after going through all of that.”

Daughter of Alyssa and Nick Chiaro, Dunmore, the scholar-athlete was a key participant at Dunmore for soccer, swimming and track and field. She was also a football cheerleader. She had a 3.8 grade point average, including a 99 average in her final two quarters.

Mia was first-team all-star for track and field in her sophomore and junior years. She was a first-team all-star for soccer once and second-team twice. 

She ran the 100 meter and 300 meter hurdles and participated in the 4 by 1 and 4 by 4 for the Dunmore track and field team.

She credits her swimming coach John Andreoli for being a strong mentor. “He really cares about us,” Mia said. “He inspired us to be better. He had a talk with us that really gave us confidence and got us motivated. We became highly competitive and we kept improving to become an excellent swimming team. We had a great team bond. I will never forget the lessons learned and the spirit of our team.”

Mia, well spoken and articulate, said she will attend the University of Pittsburgh and study political science in the fall. She wants to attend law school in the future.

“I want to become a lawyer and possibly become a politician in the future,” she said. “I hope to play some club soccer at Pitt.” 

Mia enjoys listening to music and is a big fan of Kanye West. 

Mia Chiaro1As a three-sport athlete and cheerleader, she proved to be highly versatile. “I like to be involved and active,” she said. “So that is a no brainer for me. I like being a part of something special. And as most know, being a part of any sport at Dunmore usually results in something special. The coaches here teach you so much about sports and life. And the teammates you have result in lifetime friendships. You develop a great bond with your teammates.”

Mia said she gets her competitive spirit from her parents.

“My parents always tell me nothing gets handed to you. You need to work hard to develop a competitive work ethic.”

The aspiring law student and politician lit up when speaking of her experience at Dunmore High School. “You get a lot of opportunities to express yourself and get involved at Dunmore,” she said. “You develop lifelong friendships and you are a part of something special. All of the sports you participate in at Dunmore are special. 

“Our coaches and teachers at Dunmore teach us to be competitive on and off the field and in life. And this all translates to life as you transition beyond high school. It is such a great experience at Dunmore.”

Homes Away from Home

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Shown from left are Adrian Danchenko, Palm City, Florida; Lenny Zubrickas; Christina Zubrickas, holding baby Reed Joseph; Roseann Zubrickas; and Tyrone Bronte, Australia.

By John Andreoli

Often the quest to excel is carried out quietly.  At all levels of organized sports, athletes can go about their daily lives in relative anonymity.  Their goals and the path to achieving them may differ, but their attitudes and dedication are much the same.  In this highly specialized world, it almost always takes extreme personal sacrifice to rise amongst the ranks.

For the members of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights hockey team the struggle entails another often worrisome detail many athletes are lucky to take for granted—a place to live and three square meals a day.  Young players who hail from various parts of the United States and all over the world forego many of the luxuries most teenagers take for granted in their pursuit of a college scholarship or a possible career in hockey.  Cyber schooling is often sandwiched amongst multiple daily practices all while being far from the comforts of home. While social media can be a great help, long distance relationships with friends and family in different states and countries can be difficult to maintain. Homesickness can be a daily tribulation that many of us are fortunate enough to not have to consider.

Roseann Zubrickas is the Billet Coordinator for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights and places young athletes with families around the area.  The young men, generally in their mid-to-late teens, are responsible for getting themselves back and forth to practice and games at the Revolution Ice Centre as well as whatever costs are associated with personal care and/or luxury items.  What they require is simple: A bed, a place to keep their clothes, and three meals per day. They do require internet access to keep up with their studies, as well.

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Adrian Danchenko from Palm City, Florida

While being close to their practice facilities is most convenient, players in the past have lived as far as a 40-minute drive away.  Families that sponsor a young hockey player (or multiple players at once) receive a monthly stipend of $400 per month for each player.  Sometimes housing two players at once is easier as they can travel together and keep each other company.

Their season runs from August through May, though the time they spend at a potential home may vary depending upon where they are at in their schooling.

“We’ve placed players in all different sorts of living situations, whether they be conventional two parent families or single parent families.  We’ve had a lot of success placing the kids with “empty nesters” or those whose adult children have moved out and have a spare bedroom.”

While a potential host family may have concerns about how players spend their downtime, Roseann assures them that the players’ behavior is monitored both on and off the ice and that their coaches have a zero-tolerance policy related to misconduct.  As members of a junior hockey club, the young men are not just developing their talents, but are also learning how to become mature adults who are accountable for their actions.

Those interested in hosting a player fill out a questionnaire regarding household rules and responsibilities that are expected to be maintained.  Roseann meets with the players and potential hosts to ensure that the two are a proper fit. In her own home, she keeps in contact with the players’ families who have themselves come to visit, as well. The host families are strongly encouraged to notify the coaching staff should any issues arise. As the Billet Coordinator, Roseann also keeps in close contact with hosts to make certain that a clear standard of conduct is met.

The billet program for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights provides a unique opportunity for people to share their homes and lives with young men who have sacrificed a great deal to pursue their dreams.  As such, the comfort and care provided by a host family is often what they need the most.

“They’re not just tenants or roommates.  You keep in touch with these kids and follow their progress.  You learn about where they’re from and invest in their goals. You care about them and vice-versa.  They become family.”

To find out more, please call Roseanne Zubrickas at (570) 499-6393 or email her at rzubrickas@comcast.net.

Dunmore Swimmers Look to Make Great Strides This Season

By Steve SvetovichDHS swim team

Dunmore High School second year girls’ swimming coach John Andreoli is looking for his team to increase its roster and make an impact this year. Andreoli, Aquatics Director at the Greater Scranton YMCA, Dunmore, said practice begins this coming Friday, November 16.

“We had 11 girls on the team last year and are hoping for 15 to 20 this season,” said coach Andreoli.

“We’ve taken great strides in gaining some respectability in our league. It’s been a tall task getting the program on its feet, but I think we are looking real strong going forward. We plan to make some waves in the near future.

“I just need to get some more swimmers on board. And we are planning to do that.

swim“We have two of the best swimmers in the area, senior Colleen Brown and sophomore Maddie Healey, on our squad.

Both girls already garnered quite a bit of attention last season as they each broke three school records.

“We have some returning young swimmers who are going to surprise a lot of people this year. We also have some freshmen who look very promising.

“I would like to see more public interest in our team. We want to build the program and get off to a good start. Swimming is not always on the radar, but our story could be a compelling one this year. Our program should be getting a little boost with more girls coming out to swim.”

Coach Andreoli, who was a star swimmer at Valley View High School, said both Brown and Healey broke multiple school records and placed high in districts last season.

He said junior Mia Chiaro just started swimming for Dunmore last year and placed in districts. “We expect big things from her this year. And she never swam until last year.”

Dunmore’s first swim meet will be Dec. 13.

“Dunmore has not been a traditional powerhouse in swimming. We are trying to change all that. We are taking steps to gain relevance in the program.

“We have a lot of returning swimmers and a lot more depth. We are returning more than half of last year’s team and adding more to the roster.”

Andreoli is in his second year as Aquatics Director at the YMCA. He has coached the Greater Scranton Stingrays swimming team for the past seven years.

bucksBrown is in her fourth year as a member of Dunmore’s swimming team. Healey, in her second year, has had lots of success as a swimmer. Both performed well in districts last season. Both came up in local swimming programs and swim at Blue Dolphin Aquatics.

“Both girls are very dedicated.”

Coach Andreoli can’t wait to get started. “We are going to get the community excited about our program this year. This is an upstart year. And we are trying to get the program out there to the public’s attention.

“We will definitely improve this year. This has always been a small program at Dunmore, but with 15 to 20 girls coming out this year it is expanding. We will make a name for ourselves.”

Andreoli has been coaching swimming for various local teams over the past decade. He has served as a lifeguard and swimming instructor.

Fundraising events have also started for the Dunmore swimming team. Money needs to be raised for warm up suites and equipment.