Athlete of the Month: Mackenzie Black


Athlete of the Month Mackenzie Black is shown, center, signing for a full Division I gymnastics scholarship with West Virginia University.

By Steve Svetovich

Hard work and dedication pay off even to those who are the most modest of sorts.

Take Mackenzie Black, for instance.

The Dunmore high school senior accepted a Division I scholarship and a spot on the gymnastics team at West Virginia University.

Emilia Raynova, instructor at the United Sports Academy, Dunmore, made the announcement last month.

Daughter of Shanette Black and Thomas Nolan, MacKenzie was one of three local high school gymnasts who were accepted into a Division I college on a full athletic scholarship for the coming year.

The others were Adeline Rider of Scranton Prep and Donna Howell of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School. All earned spots on their respective gymnastic teams.

mackenziee“This is a great accomplishment,” said Raynova. “Not many gyms in the country are lucky enough to achieve the same results, especially having three seniors in the same year.

“We are so proud of our girls and their coaches. Only about 200 gymnasts in the nation receive a scholarship to a division 1 university every year and our girls have earned their spot for three of them.

“All three girls worked for this moment for over 10 years.”

MacKenzie, 17, signed her letter of intent early last month. She has been a gymnast at United States Sports Academy for the past 12 years.

MacKenzie, who has a 91 academic average at Dunmore, talked about her experience at the United States Sports Academy. “It’s a very welcoming environment,” she said. “It helps to keep us humble in terms of our success.

“I spend a lot of time there. I spend about 21 hours a week at the United States Sports Academy. The coaches there are like our second family.

MacKenzie said Raynova was initially her instructor. Her current coaches are Omar Egas and Sylvia Topalova.

“I learned everything from my coaches. Mr. Omar taught me that dedication is so important. Without it, you cannot go far in gymnastics.

“Sylvia teaches us how to be neater and control our anxiety.”

MacKenzie is very close to her mom. “My mom teaches me about modesty. She told me that if you do well, not everyone should know about it. Never brag about accomplishments. That keeps me level.”

The highly talented yet humble Dunmore senior talked about what is takes to be a good gymnast. “You need dedication and perseverance.”

She talked about her future goals.

“I would like to make it to the nationals and go to the West Virginia camp and help coach in the summer.

“I want to be successful in life, have a family and provide for them. I want to be able to provide for my mom in later years.”


5th Annual Dunmore Summer Festival Set for August 17th through 19th

Dunmore Summer Festival

The 5th annual Dunmore Summer Festival at Sherwood Park will be held Thursday August 17 through Saturday August 19. Shown in photo are officers and members of the Sherwood Youth Association at last year’s festival.

By Emily Fedor

For months, members of the Sherwood Youth Association have been preparing for the 5th annual Dunmore Summer Festival at Sherwood Park, and finally party time is right around the corner. This year, the festivities will take place from 5 to 11 p.m. on August 17 and 18, and from 4 to 11 p.m. on August 19.

The festival got its start when the borough of Dunmore celebrated its Sesquicentennial back in the summer of 2012. Ever since, the annual event has become a tradition for many in little old Bucktown a tradition filled with good food and good friends. And the cherry on top is that all that fun benefits a wonderful cause.

“The park’s mission is, and always has been, to keep the children playing,” said Sherwood Youth President Matt Fedor. “The proceeds from the festival will be used to upkeep and improve the park’s facilities.”

Every year, it seems more folks come out to catch up with friends and enjoy a bite to eat. The festival hosts a wide array of vendors, who offer all kinds of sweet, spicy and savory foods.

Villa Maria Restaurant has been a part of the summer festival since it first began five years ago. The American-Italian style eatery is based on Washburn Street in West Scranton, but the business first got its start in little old Dunmore back in 1982.  

Owner Joe Macciocco says he likes coming back to Bucktown each year to pay a visit to those who have helped make his business a success.

“It’s phenomenal. It’s a great time of the year. They raise money for the park, and there’s something for everybody,” said Macciocco.

Members of the Sherwood Youth Association also man a stand, from which they serve up beverages, potato pancakes, wimpies, pizza fritte, fresh-cut french fries, clams and more.

This year, homemade hot wing bites will also be on their menu.

“The success of the festival and the continued improvements at the park would not be possible without the association’s hard-working and faithful members, said Fedor.”  

Members of Keystone UNICO, the Dunmore High School Crimson Company and other non-profit organizations will also be part of the festival.

Another big part of the annual event is the musical entertainment. This year’s line-up features two new-comers and one returning act, who will take the stage at 7 p.m. each night.

Tony Bouselli, Mike Bertha and Dave Arneli make up the band known as Take 3. Together, the rock and roll trio will open the festival on Thursday, August 17.

On Friday, August 18, the Luongo Brothers Band will take the Show Mobile stage. The band features Pat and Nick Luongo, who are founding members of another area band called The Poets, as well as Alan Shields and Rich Marmo. They play a variety of hits from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

The Fabulous Fortunes will return to the Dunmore Summer Festival for the fifth year to close out the festival on Saturday, August 19. The rock group has been performing for decades in Dunmore and beyond.

The Dunmore High School cheerleaders and marching units will also make an appearance at the festival on Friday, and gymnasts with the United Sports Academy will perform Saturday.

“There will also be a bounce house, horseback riding, face painting and lots of games for the kids,” said Fedor. “We hope the community comes out to support our festival and the park.”

Local gymnasts recognized in competition


LOCAL GYMNASTS on level 9 and 10 include, from left: Adeline Rieder, Mackenzie Black, Calista Marzolino (middle), Grace Amico (top middle), Emma Firmstone (bottom), Julia Firmstone (right middle), Tayler Osterhout (top right).

Gymnasts from the United State Sports Academy, located in Dunmore, have received new awards. Ten-year- old Level 4 gymnast, Maura Michalczyk, recently competed in the Springtime Meltdown and took home first place on Vault, Balance Beam, Floor and All Around.

Level 10 gymnast, 16-year-old Mackenzie Black, had two more winning competitions.The first one was the Heartland Spring Classic where she won first place on Floor, Vault and All Around as well as third place on Balance Beam. Mackenzie and her teammate, Emma Firmstone, both made it to the event finals in which they only take the top six scores of all ages and competed against 59 other level 10 girls. At the event finals, Mackenzie came in first place on Vault, second on Floor, and sixth on Beam.

Mackenzie just competed in the Level 10 State Championship and finished first on Vault and third place All Around. In two weeks she will be competing in Regionals at Virginia Beach.

The academy’s Tumble Team State Champions include: Veronica Matthies and Monica Fonaszewski – Level 5, Leslie Major – Level 6, Madelynn Perfilio -Level 7.

Level 5 girls have been undefeated this season and won the First Place Team Award at States. Cara Martinez became the Level 5 All Around State Champion and finished first on Vault, first on Beam, first on Floor, second  on Bars. Luciana Toczdlowski became the Level 5 Floor champion and also came in second place on Beam and second All Around. Camryn Thomas became the Level 5 Bars Champion and tied for second place on Vault and third All Around.

Anna Clifton  is Level 8 Vault State Champion. Donna Howell  is Level 9 All Around State Champion as well as first place on Bars, third on Vault and first on Beam.

Other champions at States were: Anna Clifton – Level 8 Vault State Champion;  Donna Howell – Level 9 All Around State Champion as well as first place on Bars, third on Vault and first on Beam; Emma Firmstone and Mackenzie Black – Level 10 State Champions. Emma came in second place All Around and won first place on Beam (Beam Champion). Mackenzie came in third Place AA and first place on Vault (Vault Champion)

Attending Regionals will be: Tumble Team: Julia – Level 4, MaryGrace Sabatini – Level 4, Isabel Barcia – Level 4, Annabell Begley – Level 4, Maddie Mucha – Level 4, Veronica Matthies – Level 5, Monica Fonaszewski – Level 5, Leslie Major – Level 6, Madelynn Perfilio -Level 7.

Also, Level 8: Anna Clifton, Amelia Rieder; Level 9: Emma Kelly, Gianna Sabatini, Donna Howell, Calista Marzolino, Julia Firmstone; Level 10: Emma Firmstone, Mackenzie Black, Tayler Osterhout.


Local gymnasts earn competition honors

gymnast photo

Level 10 gymnasts from the United Sports Academy in Dunmore include from left: Mackenzie Black, a sophomore at Dunmore High School; Emma Firmstone, a senior at Honesdale High School; Adeliner Rieder, a sophomore at Scranton prep; and Taylor Osterhout, an 8th grade student at Abington Heights.

Two Dunmoreans in the Junior Olympic team program at United Sports Academy, located in Dunmore, who participated in competitions over the weekend of February 12-14 brought home honors.

Ten-year-old, Maura Michalczyk, a fourth grader at Dunmore Elementary Center, is a level 4 gymnast who competed in the Dalmatian Classic in Wales, Pa., over the weekend and took home first place on Vault, first place on Bars, first place on Beam, second place on Floor, and first place All Around.

The second gymnast is 16-year-old Mackenzie Black, who is currently a sophomore at Dunmore High School., She is a  level 10 gymnast at United Sports Academy and  just competed in the Presidential Classic in Disney World. Mackenzie took home first place on Vault, first place on Floor, third on Beam and third place All Around.