Around The USCAA – 10-10-2018
Around the USCAA is a weekly article that highlights current happenings, key matchups, and relevant news stories from across the association. If you have a relevant news piece that you would like considered for inclusion please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bucsok Keeps Mother's Memory Alive With Pink Jersey
In soccer, Goalkeepers stand out because of their unique jersey’s worn to tell them a part from other players. For some, the jersey allows them to express themselves like Carlos Navarro Montoya of Argentina who wore a jersey with a truck on the front, his image behind the wheel. For others, like Penn State Greater Allegheny Goalkeeper Colin Bucsok, the purpose of the brightly colored jersey is to tell a story and send a message.
Bucsok’s jersey features bright pink all over with a black #95 in the top right corner. It is not only worn to standout from the blue and white of his teammates, but also to honor the memory of his mother, Genine Bucsok, who passed away after a battle with Stage 4 Breast Cancer in April of 2014.
As we enter October and Breast Cancer Awareness month, millions of athletes from around the sporting world will wear pink wristbands, tape, and other accessories all to bring awareness for this deadly disease. For Bucsok, who wears his pink jersey all year long, this month means so much more because of the memory it keeps alive.
“[Breast Cancer Awareness Month] means a great deal for me because it helps the memory of my mother plus helps other people who are in the same situation that I am understand that there is support,” said Bucsok. “Cancer is a horrible thing and nobody should ever have to go through what I went through. I am happy to donate and have other people donate to make sure it never happens again.”
Genine Bucsok was like many mothers who support their sons. She went to all of Colin’s games and cheered him and his teammates on as they played. Bucsok says she was his biggest supporter and was always in the stands with a smile on her face.
“My mom, in a soccer sense, was always my number one fan,” said Bucsok. “If I would go down hurt she would scream from the crowd and tell me to go rub some dirt in it and take a lap. She always pushed me, and she was always there for me.”
The months leading up to Genine Bucsok’s diagnosis were for the most part normal. She had some back and bone pain but thought nothing of it. It was when her chiropractor sent her to a neurosurgeon that the Bucsok family received news that would change their lives forever.
After sitting in the hospital for a couple hours, Bucsok and his dad went to get something to eat in the cafeteria. Bucsok noticed something was wrong as soon as they sat down.
“My dad was sitting there crying,” said Colin Bucsok. “I asked him what was wrong, and he told me my mom had cancer. When we first went into the hospital my mom was upbeat, I was upbeat, and we figured it was some kind of bone tweak. Then the doctor told my mom, who told my dad, who eventually told me the news.”
In the months that followed, doctors did everything they could to try and help Bucsok’s mom in her recovery. It took many surgeries and countless radiation treatments before they began chemotherapy.
“The stage 4 breast cancer my mom had was compressing her bones. She had a few fractures in her leg they fixed and then started radiation treatment,” said Bucsok. “They went through radiation treatments for about two months, she moved back home, and the doctors started her on chemotherapy.”
“The first day of her chemo treatment she was coughing and acting very sick, but she went and got it anyway. Chemotherapy lowers the white blood cell count in your body, so she got a massive pneumonia stuck in her lungs and went into a coma state.”
In April of 2014, Genine Bucsok lost her battle with breast cancer and passed away. The initial shock was hard for Bucsok and his family. He talked about how the first year was a true struggle as he was coping with the tragedy.
“I remember at the funeral I hugged about 500 people, told the story to about 300, and said I was ok about 1,000 times,” said Bucsok. “The first couple days were rough, the first month was really rough, and truly the first year was rough.”
Bucsok took an extended break from the soccer field after his mom’s passing. He was just going through the motions in almost a dazed sense trying to comprehend the tragedy that faced his family. He was a freshman at Thomas Jefferson High School and had to find a way to cope.
“My dad was an instrumental part in helping me cope,” said Bucsok. “He was actually the crier of the two of us. Me, I didn’t cry, I kind of was just dazed the whole time. It was really helpful for me to step up and help him and have somebody else to help take care of.”
His return to the soccer field later that year helped him to be able to find a space where he could just get away from reality. Bucsok says being on the field helped get his mind off of the situation and focus on a sport that he loved.
“My first game back [on the soccer field] I was in an emotional state and I let out a lot of anger,” said Bucsok. “We ended up losing that game, but it helped to get back on the field.”
Bucsok’s return to the field saw him come back better than ever. In his final three seasons at Thomas Jefferson high school he was named to the WPIAL Class 3A Section 4 All-Section team. During those three seasons his team made the playoffs in each year and Bucsok had a record of 49-13-2.
That good play has followed him to the college level at Penn State Greater Allegheny where he was named a Penn State University Athletic Conference Honorable Mention Goalkeeper and went 9-2 his freshman year. With his team’s 9-0 win over Westmoreland County Community College on October 4th, Bucsok broke the record for the most career wins in PSUGA Soccer history.
However, for Bucsok, it is not about the stats, the accolades, or any other honors he receives on the field. It is about representing his family and his mom’s memory in a way that would make her proud.
“I always give 110% and try my best first and foremost,” said Bucsok. “I don’t get injured a lot and when I am injured I typically play through it. I do that to show the strength that my mother passed on to me, but also, to represent my family and my school with class. I try and stay calm, cool, and collected on the field.”
Bucsok, like many other people who are affected by cancer, has to try his best to keep moving forward. One way he tries to do that is giving back to his community and helping the people around him become better people in their own right. It is this quality that he believes is one of the main ways he can keep his mother’s memory alive.
“I think my mom would be very proud of me for all that I have accomplished and all the people I have helped,” said Bucsok. “I feel I have helped many people grow over the past couple years that wouldn’t have had I not been there.”
As the years since his mother’s passing have gone by, Bucsok has received support from many people close to him. There are still times he gets emotional, but he uses that emotion to go out and help the people around him.
“It’s been rough, it’s always a hard thing and there are even some points where I still break down and have a tough time,” said Bucsok. “Every Mother’s Day is rough, but there are the people when something bad happens they just sit back and take it and cry over it. I try to use that emotion to fuel me to do greater things.”
Bucsok will always have the memory of his mother in his heart as he takes the field with pink on his back for the Penn State Greater Allegheny Soccer team. This month when you see athletes dressed in pink from head to toe, send some good thoughts to the many people who, like the Bucsok family, help to raise awareness so we can find a cure for this deadly disease.
From the Court to the Newsroom Passion Drives James Sparvero’s Career
Mckeesport, PA. – Having a passion for something can drive a person to reach their dreams and accomplish many things. For Penn State Greater Allegheny Alumnus and former PSUGA Men’s Basketball player James Sparvero, it was a passion for both Journalism and the sport of basketball that defined a successful career at PSUGA.
From the moment Sparvero stepped on campus in the fall of 2005, he fell in love with the atmosphere and the people surrounding him. It is those people that helped him feel comfortable in the transition from high school to college and allowed him to come out of his shell.
“[PSUGA] was a very nice campus,” said Sparvero. “It was well-maintained, clean, and very pretty too. The people made an even bigger impression on me. From the faculty, to upper classmen, to incoming freshman everyone treated me very nice and the environment seemed very inclusive.”
Basketball initially wasn’t a part of Sparvero’s plans at PSUGA. He came to the campus pursuing a career in journalism and working out on the side. After not playing basketball in his senior year of high school at South Park, he thought his career had come to an end.
It wasn’t until he was approached by former Men’s Basketball coach Tim Keefer in the weight room that he saw the door open for him to play the sport he loved once again.
“Coach Tim Keefer found me in the weight room my freshman year and asked me to consider walking onto the team,” said Sparvero. “I took him up on that offer and it was the best decision that I made my first year at PSUGA.”
That one decision sparked a two-year career for Sparvero on the Men’s Basketball team that saw him go from being out of the sport to a Penn State University Athletic Conference Champion.
Sparvero and his team saw success right away in the 2005-2006 season where they finished with an 18-1 record in conference play and clinched a spot in the PSUAC Playoffs. They would make it all the way to the PSUAC Championship game where they brought home the first title for PSUGA since the 1998-1999 season.
“It is the only basketball championship I ever won at any level in my playing days so it will always have a special spot in my heart,” said Sparvero. “I grew a lot personally that season thanks to my teammates. It was the most traveling that I had done in any sport and those guys have become close friends. It was easy to have fun because we were always winning.”
Sparvero’s biggest year as a player came in his sophomore season when he became a full-time starter for PSUGA Men’s Basketball. It was the turning point in Sparvero’s playing career and one he said helped boost his confidence both on and off the court.
“My turning point was my sophomore year when I became a regular starter,” said Sparvero. “My confidence was starting to build, my stats were up, and I became recognized as one of our best shooters. My individual success at basketball in any level I played always came down to my confidence. I was playing confident ball that season and putting up career numbers.”
Although PSUGA missed out on the playoffs that season, Sparvero was awarded for his efforts being named to the PSUAC All-Academic team that season. He would transfer to University Park following the spring of 2007 where he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism in 2009.
Over his two seasons on the team, Sparvero made lots of life long friends and was able to have new experiences he wouldn’t have had otherwise. It was these opportunities that made his career at PSUGA worthwhile.
“Playing on the PSUGA Men’s Basketball team meant the chance to play basketball again,” said Sparvero. “I didn’t play for my high school team my senior year, but spent all my free time playing pickup at the courts in town all spring and summer before my freshman year. I always loved basketball and PSUGA gave me the opportunity to stay in the game as long as I could.”
Since moving on from Penn State, Sparvero now serves as the Brevard County Multimedia Journalist at News 6 WKMG in Orlando. According to the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters, Sparvero is recognized as one of the best large market do-it-all reporters in the state of Florida.
Sparvero says it is because of the people skills he acquired while at Penn State Greater Allegheny that he is as successful as he is today working in television.
“I was an introvert in high school and did not step out of my comfort zone of a few close friends,” said Sparvero. “But, at PSUGA, I became comfortable making new friends all the time whether it was in class, playing intramurals, or playing on the basketball team. Now I have to work with new people every day!”
It was a choice that drove Sparvero to the success he saw at PSUGA and it is the same advice he offers to someone looking into a Penn State education. He says the people you meet and the choices you make while at PSUGA will set you up for success in the end.
“Make your decision based on what is the best fit for you and your family,” said Sparvero. “If you choose PSUGA, the right people will be lined up to help you make your experience as valuable as possible.”
*Article Courtesy of Penn State Greater Allegheny
Brandywine Softball Ranked Ninth Nationally In Team GPA For 2017-18 By NFCA
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Penn State Brandywine posted the ninth-highest cumulative team grade-point average among all four-year college softball programs during the 2017-18 academic year as the Lions earned the Easton/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Academic Team Award for the third consecutive season on Tuesday. In addition, nine members of the 2017-18 squad were selected as NFCA All-America Scholar Athletes.
The 12 members of the 2018 Brandywine softball team combined to amass at GPA of 3.68 last year. That cumulative GPA ranked Brandywine No. 1 in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association and was second-highest among schools from the state of Pennsylvania. Brandywine was also the only campus in the Penn State University system to be honored.
Following the completition of the 2018 spring semester, all 12 members of the team earned Penn State University Athletic Conference All-Academic Team recognition, while three members of the squad (Alexa Anderson, Julie Foeldes, Maddie Malfara) landed United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Academic Team accolades.
The nine individuals earning NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete honors were Alexa Anderson, Rachel Cherubini, Kayla Corrente, Katie DeStefano, Ashley Dotey, Julie Foeldes, Haley Grossi, Maddie Malfara and Gina Mazurkiewicz. Foeldes and Malfara both collected their third NFCA award, while the honor marked the second of Anderson's career.
To land the award, student-athletes must amass a cumulative grade-point average of 3.50 or higher during the entire academic year. A total of 4,393 softball players from four-year colleges were honored with Brandywine's being the lone representatives from the USCAA and PSUAC.
On the field last season, Brandywine captured its fourth-straight PSUAC championship and finished fifth at the USCAA World Series, its third consecutive top-five showing. Under the direction of Head Coach Mark Caserta, Brandywine won a program record 27 games.
Five members of the 2018 championship team return to the squad when the 2019 team takes the field for the first time this March.
*Article Courtesy of Penn State Brandywine
Key Weekly Matchups
10-10-18 – Florida National University at St. Thomas University 4:00 P.M. EDT
10-10-18 – Pratt at Berkeley College NY 6:30 P.M EDT
10-13-18 – Penn State Beaver at Penn State Wilkes-Barre 2:00 P.M. EDT
10-14-18 – University of Maine Fort Kent at Bryant & Stratton-Syracuse 1:00 P.M. EDT
10-10-18 – Washington Adventist University at Christendom College 4:30 P.M. EDT
10-12-18 – Florida National University at Florida Memorial University (FL) 2:00 P.M. EDT
10-13-18 – Central Penn at Warren Wilson College 3:00 P.M. EDT
10-16-18 – Southern Maine CC at Central Maine CC 3:30 P.M. EDT
10-11-18 – University of Maine-Machias at Unity College 6:00 P.M. EDT
10-13-18 – Penn State Fayette at Penn State Mont Alto 1:00 P.M. EDT
10-16-18 – Southwestern Adventist at Paul Quinn College 6:00 P.M EDT