Dunmorean of the Month: Kayleigh Semion


kayleighBy Steve Svetovich

Dunmore High School graduate Kayleigh Semion could have played Division II or III college basketball just about wherever she wanted, but her dream was to go to Penn State.

When she enrolled at Penn State she thought her basketball career could be over, but it wasn’t. Now the 2015 Times-Tribune Player of Year is really living her dream.

She is a key member of the Penn State University women’s club basketball team.

And while it is not Division I varsity level, this team plays a brand of highly competitive basketball with six to eight tournaments throughout the year. The team practices at least two hours three nights per week.

Daughter of Sherry Nicolais and step-daughter of Mark Nicolais, Kayleigh, 20, is a sophomore Kinesiology major with aspirations to eventually become a physical therapist.

An All Regional and second team All State point guard at Dunmore in her senior season, she had opportunities to play division II or III college basketball, but her dream was to attend Penn State.

Then the opportunity came to tryout for the club basketball team. The tryout was competitive and intense, but Kayleigh, a sophomore at Penn State, made the roster. Now she gets to attend Penn State and play basketball.

With over 1,200 career points at Dunmore, she quickly became a key member of the club basketball team. She averaged 14.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game in her senior season at Dunmore and is playing that same type of game for the Penn State club team. She averaged 8.0 points and 4.5 assists mostly coming off the bench for the club team this season.

She helped her Penn State club team place in third place in the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association Championship tournament last month at Ohio State University. Her team beat Virginia Tech, Ohio University and the University of Connecticut, but lost to Air Force. She came off the bench to score 13 points against Virginia Tech.

Kayleigh was named to the All-Tournament team following the Regional Championship Tournament at Boston University earlier this year. Her Penn State club team won that tournament.

“It is very competitive basketball,” she said. ” It is on the level of division II or III college basketball. We practice hard and get to go away to games. We get to practice all the time. The games are highly competitive. The players love to compete. It is a terrific experience. And it is great representing Penn State.”

Breana Toro, former Lackawanna League all-star from Abington Heights, is a member of her club team.

Two of the girls on the club team were promoted to the Penn State varsity roster after injuries to players last season. Most of the girls on the club team attend the varsity games.

And Kayleigh is even a manager for the Penn a State varsity team.

“I will do anything I can to stay in the game,” she said. “I love basketball.”

The scholar-athlete has an impressive 3.8 grade point average at Penn State. She takes a lot of what Dunmore coach Ben O’Brien instilled in her. “He taught me about work ethic . He is really into what he does as a coach. He really helped me as a basketball player.”

Kayleigh also ran track at Dunmore and was a twirler.

She and her two sisters Brittany and Meredith learned twirling from her mom, a prominent twirling instructor in Dunmore.

“My mom always teaches me to go after whatever I want in life 110 percent at a time. She tells me to go after it full speed.”

Personable and full of life, Kayleigh knows she is living her dream at Penn State. “I love it here,” she said. “I always dreamed of going here. I look around and here I am. I love the atmosphere here. And I still get to play basketball.”

Kayleigh said she likes listening to music in her spare time. She would like to see Ed Sheeran in concert.

And while she continues to do what she loves at her dream college, Kayleigh thinks of her future. “I want to get into a physical therapy school after graduation. It is highly competitive, but I want to become a physical therapist.”

And competition seems to be something Kayleigh Semion thrives on.


Athlete of Month: Vince Rebar

image_handlerBy Steve Svetovich

Vince Rebar knows he has baseball in his blood, and he shows it through his work ethic and consistent production on the field.

The former Holy Cross All Regional baseball player has been one of Marywood University’s leading hitters in each of the past four seasons.

He has a robust team leading .469 batting average after the first 30 games this season. That includes a team leading 53 hits, six doubles, five triples and four homers. He leads the team in homers, runs with 33, RBIs with 34 and stolen bases with 20. His 20 stolen bases in 23 attempts broke the school record previously held by his current third base coach JoJo Diskin.

“That’s pretty cool,” he said after he was told about the stolen base record. “I didn’t even know. Awesome.”

Son of Vince and Maureen Rebar, the 2012 Holy Cross graduate hit .377, .317 and .374 in his first three seasons at Marywood. He spent his freshman season at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, but was red shirted after just two at bats and a season ending injury. He transferred to Marywood in 2014 and quickly made an impact.

He played four years of baseball at Holy Cross where he batted.471 in his senior season. He played third base, but made the All Regional team as a DH.

WP_20170429_15_58_29_ProThe scholar-athlete received a B.S. in business from Marywood in 2016. He finished with a 3.4 grade point average. The stalwart infielder decided to play as a graduate student for Marywood this season after he learned he had one year of eligibility left. “It was an easy decision,” he said. “I applied for the waiver this past summer when I decided to go to graduate school at Marywood. I went for the red shirt and was declared eligible.”

A marketing major as a graduate student, Rebar talked about his approach at the plate. “My approach is to get a fastball and try to get out in front of it. I like to go after the first fastball I see as the number three hitter on the team. I don’t want to miss it.”

And the clutch hitting senior does not miss many. He has a .500 on base percentage this season and has two or more hits in most of the first 30 games he played in this season.

Rebar was the starting second baseman for Marywood last season. This year most of his starts are at shortstop, but with a few games at second base.

He looks at the ending of his Marywood baseball career with mixed emotions. “I don’t want to stop playing,” he said. “There are definitely mixed emotions.

“There are a lot of young guys on the team this season. I wasn’t sure how it would all work out. But the chemistry on this team is very close. We all hang out. It’s been a lot better than expected. I know the seniors on this team play the game with all their hearts.”

And while he strokes line drives all over the diamond, Rebar ponders his future. “Well, I have another year of graduate school. Then I want to keep playing baseball as long as I can. I want to be a coach on this team next year. I am hoping that can be worked out. I would like to stay in baseball as a coach.

“I know there is a baseball scouting school in a Florida. I would love to do that. I want to stay in the game.”

He talked about what it takes to be a solid hitter on the collegiate level. “Well, just to be here playing college ball you already have to be a good hitter. But you have to stay within yourself and don’t get out of your zone. Don’t jump out of your shoes.”

And it’s that mental approach that helped him earn two MVP awards in the Hudson Valley League. He helped the Hudson Valley Pirates win two league titles in his three seasons playing in the summer collegiate league.

Well spoken and confident, Rebar said he learned a lot from Sandy Menichetti, his high school coach at Holy Cross. “He is a great guy. I will never forget the first day I showed up at practice. He told me to break down my swing in three sections – stride, hitch and swing. I remember laughing a little about it at first, but then it all came ¬†together. It sure makes a lot of sense now. I learned a lot from him. It took me some time to figure it out, but I did.”

The modest, but talented hitter said he likes listening to European dance music in his spare time. He has eclectic taste and would like to see Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike in concert.

His dad is present at every Marywood baseball game. “I have learned a lot from my parents,” he said. “They always tell me to never give up and always support me. I do a lot of extreme sports, but they are always behind me. They always encourage me to play baseball. They are my biggest supporters.”

And if you want to see a live hitting machine, go to a Marywood University baseball game.

Just watch Vince Rebar.


Dunmore Freedom League Continues to Expand


Steve Svetovich

The Dunmore Freedom League at Sherwood Park continues to thrive.

Charlie Ehnot, commissioner and founder of the Dunmore Freedom League, coached and managed for over a decade when it was known as the Collegiate Summer Baseball League (CSBL).

The name changed and now the Dunmore Freedom League enters its third year of summer baseball.

The summer season begins just after Memorial Day in early June and concludes at the end of July with playoffs. There will be at least six teams this season.

Most of the games are played at Dunmore’s Sherwood Park.

Charlie Ehnot, a Scranton Prep graduate, formerly coached his three sons – Marc, Jerry and Chaz – for 20 years in the Dunmore Little League and Teener League.

“I was looking for a league for my boys to continue to play in, so we started the Collegiate Summer Baseball League. I had the fortune of coaching my three boys in this league all over again.”

His son Chaz is now a player-coach in the Dunmore Freedom League. He and Mark Simko coach one of three Dunmore entries in the league. Honesdale, Old Forge and a group of former Scranton Prep baseball players who call themselves Varsity Pit Stop round out the current six teams.

Mark Simko played eight years in the league before becoming strictly a manager. His brother “Dirt” Simko was a key player in the league for several years and symbolized the gritty nature of most of the players.

Former Holy Cross and University of Scranton standout Anthony Duchnowski, now a Latin teacher at North Pocono High School, is one of the league’s constants and a star performer. He can’t wait every summer for the season to start.

All teams make the playoffs with the top two teams getting first round byes.

“There is a championship and a lot of good competition! but no trophy at the end,” said Chaz Ehnot. “This is all about the kids playing to stay active in the summer. It’s a supplemental work program that helps keep collegiate baseball players in shape. It helps keep their skills sharp.

“We are very proud of what we have done with this league and what we are going to do. We work hard to make this a classy field. We are trying to freshen it up and make it better.

“All the coaches, along with my dad as commissioner, take part in the schedule and mapping out of the league.”

Charlie Ehnot said local Eagle Scouts improved and enhanced the Sherwood Park baseball field through various scouting projects. One Eagle Scout was instrumental in the building of a new backstop.

You need to be at least 17 to play in the Dunmore Freedom League. There is no maximum age limit. Charlie Terrery played in the league last season at age 57. He played on the same Dunmore team as his son Alex.

Most of the players, however, are in the collegiate age bracket and up to 10 years above. The prime age seems to be 18 to 35.

There are no boundaries. You don’t have to live in Dunmore. You need to be competitive.

“The league is very competitive,” said Chaz Ehnot, “but we do play for fun too. We play for the love of the game. It doesn’t always have to be serious.”

Ehnot said the Dunmore Freedom League is actively seeking new teams and players. “We want to get this league to how it was before. We once had 10 teams and the local newspapers publicized the games. We think this league can get there again.”

Any player or team interested in joining the Dunmore Freedom League can call Charlie Ehnot (570-479-2289) or Chaz Ehnot (301-503-0131).

It is competitive hard ball at its best.

And the players in the league, who range from 18 to 58, love every minute of it.

Play Ball!

RailRiders’ Dustin Fowler Caps Cycle With Walk Off

By Steve Svetovich


Credit: The Times Leader

Dustin Fowler does not get the notoriety of some of his Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders teammates, but his hustle and “gamer” approach bring him in front of the pack.

It’s hard not to notice Fowler’s scrappy style and hustling nature.

And it was that approach that really shined Sunday, April 30, when he hit for the cycle and totaled five hits, including a walk off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to lead the RailRiders to a 7-6 win over Indianapolis.

Fowler hit his game winning shot to right field. His second double of the game moved teammate Tyler Wade to third base in the bottom of the ninth. Wade then scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.

Fowler, 22, a native of Dexter, Georgia, hit a single and scored in the seventh, doubled and drove in a run in the fifth and tripled and scored in the bottom of the first.

The five-hit game raised his season batting average to .293. He has three triples, five doubles and four homers while driving in 12 runs in the first 20 games.

Currently ranked the New York Yankees No. 8 prospect, Fowler does not get the publicity of his left field teammate Clint Frazier, but his production speaks for itself.

And if you know baseball and watch him play, it is easy to see a diamond in the rough.

Drafted by the Yankees in the 18th round of the 2013 June amateur draft, Fowler has quietly worked his way up the ladder to Triple-A performing well at every level. He consistently shows a combination of some power and speed while scoring runs, driving in runs and stealing bases.

Last season in. 574 plate appearances at Double-A Trenton, he batted .281, with 67 runs, 88 RBIs, 30 doubles, 15 triples, 12 homers and a .341 on base percentage. He also stole 25 bases for a second consecutive minor league season.

Fowler was raised in rural Georgia where dirt roads are abundant and traffic lights are few and far between. He hunts like almost everyone else in his hometown, but baseball has always been his passion.

He was more than happy to accept the $278,000 the Yankees offered him after he was drafted. After all, baseball is his dream.

Fowler, who bats and throws left, is a lean 6-0, 185-pounds. Swift on the bases, he also shows range in the outfield from his center field position.

He batted .333 with two triples in his second spring training with the parent club while rubbing elbows in the outfield with the likes of Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury. He certainly did enough to impress New York  Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

Modest yet confident, Fowler speaks in a bit of a southern drawl and he has the cowboy boots to fit the part.

But the main thing is he has made progress and performed well while moving quickly up the ladder. At press time, he had hits in 11 of his past 12 games. He has shown a knack for hitting in the clutch and appears to thrive in those situations.

It may not be too long before we see this young man in New York Yankees pinstripes.

He certainly has the talent and the make up.