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.

 

Penn State Scranton hits a home run with new fields

By Victoria Sheridan

With this year’s mild winter, there is not much snow that needs to melt quickly in order for baseball and softball season to begin. Which is a great outcome for the spring Penn State Worthington athletes practicing for the upcoming season.

baseballWhile every season is an important one, this one is special. It marks the first time athletes will dig their cleats into the dirt of the newly renovated Matt McGloin Baseball Field and UGI Utilities Softball Field.

The makeover that took place over the past few years was phase one of a three part multi-million dollar campus Athletic Facilities Renovation. Future phases include a campus wellness center, an auxiliary gym, and major improvements to the Multi-Purpose Building such as renovated offices, classrooms, restrooms, shower and locker facilities, and a new gymnasium. This will be the first time the Multi-Purpose Building has seen any work done since it was built in 1968.

For now, however, the baseball and softball fields are a much needed improvement. Before the renovation, the fields were not up to the standards of other local colleges. It was dangerous for athletes to play as there not a lot of dirt and a hard lip. In the outfield, there were many holes and divots. The fields were not regulation size as they were longer and bigger than NCAA rules. There was no scoreboard to keep track of the innings or score. The field lacked bleachers and a concession stand.

Now, there are scoreboards, dugouts, bleachers, a field house, a concession stand, and a sports information center. There are sidewalks to insure safety for those and a new parking lot to accommodate spectators and opponents.

While these fields are state of the art, none of it would have been possible if weren’t for a collective effort from the plethora of donors in the local community and former student athletes. Both fields, along with the scoreboards and dugouts, were named after campus alumni to recognize their generous donations to Penn State Worthington Scranton’s campus.

The softball field was named UGI Utilities to recognize the generous gift from the company. The Matt McGloin Baseball field was dedicated to the West Scranton native and former Nittany Lions quarterback and currently the quarterback for the NFL Oakland Raiders, Matt McGloin.

According to Penn State Worthington Scranton’s website, Mr. McGloin released a personal statement at last year’s ribbon cutting ceremony about the dedication.

“Having grown up playing baseball, and with baseball being one of my favorite sports, it’s truly an unexpected and terrific honor to have a baseball [field] named after me in the Scranton area,” he said. “I hope the Matt McGloin Baseball Field will inspire future athletes to excel in athletics.”

Many faculty and staff have expressed their feelings toward the three part renovation series. Jeff Mallas, Director of Athletics at Penn State Worthington Scranton, stated the renovation is an asset to the school and athletes, “The renovation is positive for our campus. It helps us and our student athletes.”

Mr. Mallas expressed that once phase two and three of the renovation takes place, the facilities will rival colleges in the area. With a sharper appearance to the campus, it could help to recruit athletes.

Mr. Mallas has high hopes for the fields, “It will be good for the community during the summer for camps, programs, and clinics.”

Assistant softball coach, Mar Tsakonas, has been part of the athletic program since 2009. This spring marks the first time ever that the softball team will be playing at home instead of Sherwood Park located in Dunmore.

“It’s a great opportunity to be playing on our home ground. We now have a place to call home, so there’s a greater pride that comes along with it,” Ms. Tsakonas commented, “Now it allows the softball team to show the campus the hard work they put into their game.”

With the convenience of a home field, it makes it easier on everyone involved. “It’s easier to practice and have a game. Before, we had to schedule all this time just to travel,” Ms. Tsakonas explained, “It puts us on the map now that we have our own facility. It adds a nice aspect to the campus for prospective students thinking about coming here. It also helps with recruiting too.”

While the faculty and staff are excited, so are many of the athletes. A few of the returning baseball and softball players are excited to step onto the field for the first time.

To celebrate the opening of this facility, the baseball and softball teams have been playing double-headers throughout the months of March and April.

The first home game for softball wass a double-header on March 24 against St. Joseph, followed on March 28 when Penn State Worthington Scranton played a double-header against Brandywine. On April 3, PSWS went up against Penn State Hazelton in a double header, and on April 19  is another double-header match against SUNY Delhi beginning at 3 p.m. PSWS plays a double-header against Penn State Beaver at 2 p.m. The final softball home game will take place on April 24, against Penn State Allegheny at noon.

For more information about stats, scores, or pictures of the renovation, please visit www.psuscrantonathletics.com.