Dunmore Scholar-Athlete Lauren Grippi Chasing Star at Penn State

Lauren Grippi icc 2

Dunmore tennis MVP Lauren Grippi, center, is shown with her coaches Jenny Ondeck and Jenna Urban.

By Steve Svetovich

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lauren Grippi had to wait until mid-July to graduate, and saw her graduating senior activities cancelled, but the humble, polite scholar-athlete took it all in stride.

“I felt like we missed out on a lot of fun senior activities like awards and class night,” she said. “but everyone was in the same predicament. We were all in the same boat, so how can you complain?” 

Lauren said she worked out, did school work and prepared for the college application process during her time off due to the pandemic. She will most likely study psychology while attending Penn State in the fall. 

Daughter of Shannon and Rich Grippi, Lauren had an impressive 3.6 academic average at Dunmore High School. She was a member of the National Honor Society and MVP and co-captain of the tennis team. She was Spanish Club recording secretary and a member of show choir, drama club and chorus. She was president of SADD, wrote for the school newspaper and was a football cheerleader for four years. Her favorite academic subject is English. 

Lauren, in her courteous nature, said she was honored to receive the team MVP award for tennis. “I felt honored and very happy when I heard about it,” she said. “Tennis takes a lot of determination and you can’t give up. You have to practice very hard.”

The talented and always busy Dunmore graduate said her parents taught her to work hard to achieve goals in life. “My parents taught me about a good work ethic and to always try my best at anything I do.

“My parents are always there for me. They also taught me to treat people right.”

Lauren said her Dunmore tennis coaches, Jenny Ondeck and Jenna Urban, taught her similar values. “Try my best and never give up. Work hard all the time. Keep your head up.”  

Lauren comes from a very talented and hard working family. Her dad is a retired Pennsylvania State Policeman. Her mom is a local dental hygienist. Her late grandfather Doug Miele was a veteran and Scranton Tribune newspaper editor. Her late great-grandfather Tony Miele played baseball, spent numerous years as a volunteer baseball coach and is a member of the Northeastern Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. Her brother Richie Grippi, 21, was an all-star baseball shortstop at Dunmore and is a junior at Penn State. 

Lauren said her goals in the immediate future are to pursue a psychology degree at Penn State, graduate, get a good job and eventually pursue an advanced degree and become a counselor. 

“I like to help people and listen when someone has a problem,” she said. “I like to help out with a person’s problem. That’s why I think counseling would be a good field for me.”

The soft-spoken tennis stalwart said she enjoys listening to country music in her spare time. Luke Combs is her favorite country artist.

Lauren said she enjoys being involved in a lot of school activities, but still kept her grades in the mid 90s. “I always got my school work done before practice,” she said. “I set time aside to study.” 

Kind, considerate and hard-working, Lauren will now chase her star at Penn State, but she will never forget Dunmore High School.

“I felt a part of a family at Dunmore,” she said. “I was welcomed by teachers and classmates throughout all my years at Dunmore. It is really a very close knit community. It will always be a part of me.” 

Athlete of the Month: Kayleigh Semion

Athlete of the Month Kayleigh SemionBy Steve Svetovich

Dreams come true. This is the case for former Dunmore basketball standout Kayleigh Semion.

Daughter of Sherry Nicolais and step daughter of Mark Nicolais, Kayleigh passed up opportunities to play Division I and II college basketball because she wanted to attend Penn State. It was her dream school. 

Not only did she achieve that, but she dreamed even bigger. As a junior, she tried out for the varsity girls’ basketball team and made it. And after three years on the team, she was named Penn State’s recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, a prestigious honor for team play. 

Kayleigh, 23, has proven the value of hard work and dedication throughout her years at Penn State. And no one works harder. During her high school years, she was often seen practicing her shot over and over and over at the Greater Scranton YMCA. 

She began her college career as a club basketball player and team manager before earning a roster spot during the 2017-18 season.

A consummate teammate, she made a huge impact on and off the court for the Lady Lions. Kayleigh was a crucial spark off the bench and always gave her all, the only way she knows.

A genuine scholar-athlete, she is a two-time Academia All-Big Ten selection and will receive her master’s degree this May in Business Management and Organizational Leadership.

Kayleigh was Times-Tribune player of the year in 2015, her senior year with the Dunmore Lady Bucks basketball team.

“I am very honored to receive the Sportsmanship Award,” she said. “It is really humbling. I look at it as a team award. It is awesome, a great ending to my basketball career.”

Named second team All-State after her senior year at Dunmore, the point guard said she wants to secure a management position in the sports industry upon graduation. 

basketballKayleigh was a key member of Penn State’s club basketball team that placed third in the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association Championship Tournament in her sophomore year.

Her team beat Virginia Tech, Ohio University and the University of Connecticut before losing to Air Force at Ohio State. Kayleigh scored 13 points off the bench in the loss.

The former Dunmore standout served as team manager for the Penn State varsity girls’ team for two years.

But in November of her junior year she was invited to tryout for the Penn State varsity team. She worked extremely hard during the two-week tryout and made the team.

For Kayleigh, it was another hard earned dream come true story.

“It was one of the best feelings in my life ever,” she said. “When I was told I made it, it was just awesome. My hard work paid off. I put so much into it.

“I had an extra year of eligibility while going for my master’s degree, so I played three years of Division I basketball at Penn State. My playing time increased during my final two years. I was getting good minutes. 

“Putting that Penn State jersey on was so meaningful to me. Playing in those Big 10 tournaments and facilities was unreal. Playing Division I college basketball at Penn State was so special to me.

“I can now say I played Division I college basketball at Penn State.”

Kayleigh played two years under Coquese Washington and one year under Carolyn Kieger at Penn State.

Kayleigh, All Regional as a high school senior, said she learned a lot from Dunmore basketball coach Ben O’Brien. “He taught me about a strong work ethic. He taught me a lot at Dunmore.”

Her mom, a prominent twirling instructor in Dunmore, and two sisters, Brittany and Meredith, are her role models and mentors. “I learned so much from them my entire life. They gave me my mind set and work ethic and I follow in their footsteps.”

An Ed Sheerin fan, Kayleigh had a 3.8 GPA with a B.S. in Kinesiology before starting graduate studies at Penn State.

She scored over 1,200 career points at Dunmore.

Tickets Available for Upcoming PSU Basketball Bus Trip


The Greater Scranton Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association has announced its 2020 basketball bus trip to see the Penn State men’s basketball team play Northwestern at the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday, Feb. 15 at noon.

To book a seat, email TFZayac@gmail.com or call Ted at 570-406-8886.  Cost for members is $50; non-members, $55. Pictured are the Alumni board members, from left: Ted Zayac, Candy Dolgash, Jeff Mallas,president; Sue Thomas and Steve Weissberger.