Home Local Sports Padua Academy honors senior athletes as alumnae offer words of encouragement

Padua Academy honors senior athletes as alumnae offer words of encouragement

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Padua honored each of its senior athletes on May 14 with this slide. Cheerleader Jojo Pileggi was one of them. (Screen shot via Padua Academy)

Padua Academy took to the Internet to recognize its senior athletes on May 14, streaming a ceremony that featured speeches by a current senior and three alumnae, along with the announcement of various award winners.

The senior speaker, Ireland Giaquinto, thanked a series of people for their help in guiding the athletes, including the administration, staff, parents, coaches and alumnae athletes. She singled out the biggest Pandas booster, Oblate Brother Michael Rosenello, who died last September at the age of 92.

This was the parting message from Padua to its senior athletes.

“He always had a front-row seat to applaud us in victory or to offer a hug after a devastating loss. He also liked to remind us — very loudly — not to serve the ball out of bounds, how easy it is to make a breakaway layup or how to score on an open net. Although he is no longer with us, he now has the best seat in the house,” said Giaquinto, a member of the state champion volleyball team.

The three alumnae speakers kicked off with Lydia Olivere, who graduated in 2018 after a stellar career in cross country and track, and a member of the academic honor roll. She has continued her success at Villanova University and is the reigning Big East women’s cross country medalist. She also earned all-American honors last season.

Olivere acknowledged the uncertain times the seniors are going through, especially as they head to unfamiliar territory as college freshmen. The graduates should rely on their Padua experience to help them navigate those waters, she said.

“The friendships and bonds you have made at Padua will stay with you no matter where your new beginnings take you,” she said. “What is such a unique aspect of the Padua sisterhood – the friends you’ve made, the teammates you’ve had – really, it does not stop when you graduate.”

Olivere’s classmate at Padua and Villanova, Ellen Banker, encouraged the students to try new things. She said she was a cheerleader at Padua but did not cheer as a freshman at Nova. This fall, she will enter her second year of cheering in college. A physics major, Banker is also a member of the Navy ROTC and will be a commissioned officer when she graduates.

“It’s really nice having a balance with athletics and school, with the ROTC side of it,” she said.

The final Padua grad to speak was Lizzy Bader, who graduated in 2019 and just wrapped up her freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania. Bader was a standout in cross country and track at Padua and has continued in those sports at Penn. There is a lot of value in athletics, she said.

“Not only does it teach you how to excel as an athlete and find success in sports, but it teaches you life lessons, instills values and leads to lifelong relationships with teammates and coaches,” she said.

Being at home since March has allowed her to train with her former teammate, Olivere, and she has remained close with their former coach, Marnie Giunta. Those connections last.

“I believe these bonds are strong throughout Padua athletics,” Bader said.

Michelle Kozicki, shown playing against Ursuline this past season, was named Padua’s most valuable athlete for the year on May 14. (Dialog photo/Jason Winchell)

The following students received athletic awards:

Most Valuable: Michelle Kozicki

Scholar-Athlete: Paige Kenton and Sonia Srikanth

Suaviter sed Fortiter: Sarah Pritchard

Faith-filled Athlete: Katherine Rush

Panda Spirit: Katherine Tyndall

Brother Michael Rosenello, OSFS, Award: Abigail Leach

Denise McFadden Spirit Award (for track and field): Moira Smith