Dunmorean of the Month: Bridget Walsh

Bridget Walsh recently received the Grant Burger Media Award in Division III Sports Information category. She is a Sports Information Graduate Assistant at King’s College, Wilkes-Barre. (Photo courtesy: Tom Weishaar/One More Shot Photography)

By Steve Svetovich

Bridget Walsh, 24, Dunmore, recently received the Grant Burger Media Award in Division III Sports Information category.

Daughter of Mike and Cathy Walsh, Dunmore, the Scranton Prep graduate is a King’s College Sports Information Graduate Assistant. She is scheduled to receive an M.S. in Sports Administrators this May from Canisius College, Buffalo, New York. 

Walsh received her B.S. in Communications Cum Laude in 2019 from DeSales University where she was a four-year member of the basketball team. She was a key player for the DeSales basketball team helping the squad to an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance as a senior.

She played four years of both basketball and softball at Scranton Prep. She was a Lackawanna League first-team Division I all-star in both sports as a senior and for softball as a sophomore. 

The Grant Burger Media Award is a national honor provided on an annual basis to an individual who has been involved in the advancement of the sport of volleyball through consistent coverage of all mediums. It is presented by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). 

Grant Burger was former Director of Sports Information and Associate Director of the AVCA from 1988 through 1992. 

King’s College head men’s volleyball coach Bernie Kachinko called Walsh “highly motivated, well rounded, very organized in taking pride at getting the job done right.” He said Walsh is “a winner who sets very high standards for herself.”

Walsh, during her assistantship, is in charge of media contact for both the men’s and women’s volleyball teams at King’s. 

With the women’s volleyball team, she helped promote a team with 21 wins. She assisted in promoting Becca Goldberg and Taylor Mueller, All-MAC Freedom Award winners, and also nominated two Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom Players of the Week.

She was the head contact for the inaugural varsity season of King’s College men’s volleyball. She helped promote five MAC Players of the Week before the season was halted due to COVID-19.

James Chagnon, King’s College Director of Sports Information, said there is no more deserving individual than Bridget Walsh. He added Walsh has become one of the leaders in coverage of college volleyball. He praised the Dunmore resident’s connection with student-athletes, adding she has a strong work ethic second to none and a bright future in sports information. 

Walsh was also a four-year student worker in the sports information department during her time at DeSales University. 

She became a graduate assistant in the sports information department at King’s College in the summer of 2019. And she has remained there since, covering home games of several sports and daily sports related events. 

“Three of us are department contacts for a handful of sports,” she said. “I have seven of them to cover. I do pre game reports, lineups, press releases, contacts for game day, game recaps, nominate players for honors and awards. And that is just a small aspect of the job. It is definitely a busy job and over 40 hours of work a week, but I love it. It’s a very big job. There is a lot involved. I love every second of it.

“I love being in sports information on the college level. My goal after graduation is to go full time into an assistant role in sports information and then move into a sports information director position on the college level. And then the goal down the road someday would be moving into a sports administration position.”

Walsh, while at DeSales, completed an internship in the sports department of The Scranton Times in the summer of 2017. She worked under Scranton Times sports editor Chris Imperiale and learned from the likes of Marty Myers, Joby Fawcett, Donnie Collins, Scott Walsh and other notable sports writers. “They are a great group of guys and I learned a lot,” she said.

“I even had the opportunity of doing a big feature on the Scranton Wilkes Barre RailRiders.”

The hard working graduate student said her parents have always been an inspiration. “Growing up, I was not always confident about choosing a career path,” she said. “But we grew up with sports and my parents knew I loved it. My dad loves Notre Dame and watches all the games. I was admiring the work of the Notre Dame sideline reporter, Alex Flanagan. My parents told me I can do that. And they made me believe it.

“Initially, I wanted to get into sports broadcast journalism and then I leaned towards print journalism. I found out it is not a wide open field now. I did an internship in sports information as a college junior and fell in love with it. So it all fell into place. But my mom and dad gave me the inspiration.

“My parents always taught me about hard work and dedication. Both were always extremely hard workers and they taught me that.”

Walsh said there is nothing like the experience of playing four years of college basketball. “It will always be one of the most memorable, rewarding experiences of my life. I made friends to last a lifetime. The teamwork skills you learn take you through life. The teammates you have create a special bond that lasts a lifetime. My dad came to every single one of my games.” 

Walsh is enjoying the contacts and friends she is making in the sports information world. “I have met so many people. I will be able to network when graduation comes along. I have learned so much and am enjoying every minute of it.”

Dunmore Soccer Goalie Olivia Leo Selected All Regional

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.” 

Dunmore Sophomore Ciera Toomey Earns Second All Region For Golf

By Steve Svetovich

Work hard when no one is looking. That’s the mantra for Dunmore sophomore Ciera Toomey. 

The Dunmore sophomore is well known throughout the area for her basketball skills, but has proven to be multi-talented with her second All Region selection for golf. 

Daughter of Carrie and Patrick Toomey, Dunmore, Ciera earned the first girls’ golf medal for Dunmore High School with fourth place in the PIAA Class 2A tournament posting 7-over 79. 

She won a spot in states by finishing second in Division 2 with a score of 81, then claiming a one-hole playoff. 

She won the Scott Greens Invitational title with 3 over 36. 

Those who follow the local basketball scene, know about Ciera’s accomplishments as well as those of her older sister Victoria and mom, the former Carrie Bowen, on the hardwood. Victoria is currently a sophomore basketball player at Rider University. 

“I was very excited when I heard about my All Regional golf selection,” Ciera said. “There are a lot of other great golfers in this area. A lot of the others considered are my friends.

“Girls’ golf is a team sport. You need three top scores to win as a team. You need to push your teammates and work together to win.”

Ciera said she continued to develop her golf skills through constant practice. 

The hard driving sophomore said her Dunmore golf coach Robert Coyle gives her positive feedback. “He always tells me to go out there and try my hardest and never focus on mistakes.”

Ciera said her parents have taught her a lot regarding hard work. “My parents always tell me to work hard when no one is watching. And you should want to work even harder when no one is looking. They tell me if you work hard all the time, then things will come easier. Practice as much as possible. Work hard when no one else is.”

As a freshman forward-center on the Dunmore Lady Bucks basketball team last season, Ciera was one of the league’s leading scorers averaging over 16 points per contest. She also averaged over seven rebounds per game. The Lady Bucks playoff run was halted due to COVID-19.

Ciera, confident and well spoken, said she was introduced to golf at a young age. “I am lucky,” she said. “My dad introduced me to golf when I was in the second grade. I learned all the basics from him and have been playing golf for eight years now.”

The sophomore scholar-athlete has an impressive 97 academic average and is a member of the French Club. Her best subject is math. 

A high achiever by nature, Ciera is undecided about a future college. However, she wants to continue her basketball career and possibly study engineering in college. 

Ciera was working hard in practice to prepare for the Dunmore Lady Bucks basketball season when more statewide COVID restrictions were imposed, halting workouts until at least January 4. 

“We had four days of basketball practice and then it was cut short,” Ciera said. “We are supposed to start back after January 4. I think there will be a basketball season. We are all remaining positive.” 

Ciera, when she finds the time, enjoys listening to music. She likes Labrinth, a pop music artist. 

Thought provoking and intelligent on and off the golf course and hardwood, Ciera said she loves Dunmore. “I have been on this campus since elementary school and love it. The Dunmore school district and community itself is unmatched. The support you get for sports at Dunmore is unmatched. The teachers and coaches are extremely supportive. I love this town and this community.”