Port A’s Kysor, Smethport’s Alfieri claim Davies-Foy Awards

Port Allegany's Ken Kysor (third from left) and Smethport's Felicia Alfieri (third from right), the 2011 recipients of the Olean Times Herald's Davies-Foy Memorial Big 30 Scholar-Athlete Awards, were honored at a luncheon at the St. Bonaventure Clubhouse on Monday afternoon. The winners are pictured with their parents and a representative from their school. From left: Port Allegany superintendent Tony Flint, Dan Kysor, Ken Kysor, Kate Kysor, Tony Alfieri, Felicia Alfieri, Michelle Alfieri-Causer and Smethport school counselor Diane Smith. (Photo by Joe Kelly / Olean Times Herald)

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
June 30, 2011

In the three decades since the Olean Times Herald sports department began recognizing the best scholar-athletes in the Big 30 area, just three Port Allegany High School students were among the 65 young men and women who had achieved that elite honor.

Make that four.

Topping a stellar field of candidates with his performance in the classroom, on the football and soccer fields, and in the community, Ken Kysor was named the 2011 male recipient of the Bob Davies-Lou Foy Memorial Scholar-Athlete Award, joining Scott Klein (1983), Michelle DeMott (1992), and Brian Stavisky, who shared the award in 1999, as the only Gators in the exclusive Davies-Foy club. Smethport’s Felicia Alfieri was the 2011 female winner, becoming the fifth Hubber to be recognized.

“I knew that Brian Stavisky had been one of the recipients, but I wasn’t quite sure on the details that surround the award. I did know it was very prestigious for academics as well as athletics,” Kysor said. “I’m really honored to receive this award, considering that Stavisky got it. That speaks for itself. He’s a tremendous athlete and a great guy. Just to have the same award that recognized him is a great honor.”

Shortly after Times Herald sports writer Bob Davies died suddenly in 1980, longtime Salamanca athletic director and Section VI president Lou Foy suggested creating an award in his memory. Big 30-area schools were asked to select their most outstanding graduating senior who had participated in at least two varsity sports and two extracurricular activities, had a high academic standing, and expressed a desire to pursue higher education. Coudersport’s Joe Bliss won the first Bob Davies Award in 1981. Following Foy’s death, the award was renamed to honor both men, and separate male and female divisions were established in 1983.

This year, recommendations for 25 male and 24 female applicants were submitted to a committee of non-Big 30-aligned school administrators headed by Jud Foy, Lou’s son and the principal at Cassadaga Valley Central School.

“The quality of the people nominated was fantastic,” Times Herald sports editor Chuck Pollock said. “Every one of them had sterling credentials.”

But when the committee examined the applications, Kysor’s lengthy list of achievements proved too tough to beat.

A league all-star in both soccer and football as a senior, he earned a spot on the Pennsylvania Sports Writers’ Class A All-State First Team and was named the D9Sports.com Special Teams Player of the Year after converting 37-of-45 extra points and 6-of-9 field goals during the Gators’ run to the District 9 championship game. Equally proficient in the classroom, the National Honor Society president’s 3.988 average ranked second among the 88-member Class of 2011.

If that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Kysor also participated in band and chorus throughout his high school career, was a member of the Gators’ undefeated track and field team for three years, completed his Eagle Scout project, and still found time to volunteer in the community.

“Ken has been a very dedicated student-athlete at Port Allegany High School. Both in the classroom and in his athletic endeavors, Ken has been highly motivated, intelligent, academically sound, and personable. Ken has the standards that the Davies-Foy Committee has set for your award. I think Ken has some qualities that are not often found in young men his age. Ken is an Eagle Scout, an active EMT for the Port Allegany Ambulance Service, and assists with the local Meals on Wheels program. These, I believe, separate him from other nominees,” superintendent Tony Flint wrote in his letter of recommendation.

“I take care and pleasure in assuring you that your Committee could find few examples of the integrity, academics, athletics, music, and volunteerism demonstrated by Mr. Ken Kysor. Ken is an outstanding young man and an outstanding person.

“I recommend Ken Kysor without reservation and hope you give him your highest consideration.”

Recruited to play football by St. Francis University, Kysor will major in chemistry and continue his kicking career at the Division I (FCS) school. A berth at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine will be waiting for him when he graduates, with anesthesiology or emergency medicine among his potential fields of study.

“I’ve got my next eight years planned out,” he said.

Alfieri’s résumé was also impressive, matching Kysor’s average and class rank and including a lengthy list of extracurricular activities. She played four years of varsity volleyball, earning a second-team North Tier League All-Star nod her senior year, and participated in track for three years.

The letter of recommendation submitted by Smethport principal Robert Miller noted, “Felicia is an outstanding student, definitely a young woman leader, and one of the best I have known. She is dedicated, enthusiastic, motivated, caring, and open-minded. She is taking the most demanding curriculum Smethport High School offers and is currently second in her class with a GPA of 3.988 and a projected final GPA of 4.1.

“How to share with you the Felicia I have come to know in this short recommendation is difficult. Felicia is a gifted individual and is well rounded. She affords herself opportunities that enlighten and stretch her. I am thinking of two in particular. She raised the funds to participate in the Stanford University EPGY program for three weeks in London. She successfully completed a college course in British Literature and Writing. She stretches herself academically. Philanthropically, Felicia shows a deep concern for our world. She is combining her efforts with students from other schools to raise funds this year to build a water filtration system for a village in a third-world country.

“She is a leader at Smethport High School and brings energy and light into all her efforts. She is President of the Peer Helpers, a member of the National Honor Society, Show Choir, Concert Band, Marching Band, and Jazz Band. She represented Smethport High School at Regional and District Choir Festivals and the Intermediate Unit 9 Band Festival. She is co-captain of the volleyball team and a member of the track team. She was a member of the Chain Reaction Contraption team that took third place in state competition and a member of the Envirothon team who also advanced to state competition. She participates in the Model UN Program and the Mock Trial Program.”

The letter concluded, “It is for all the reasons mentioned here that I enthusiastically recommend her for the Bob Davies-Lou Foy Memorial Scholar-Athlete Award.”

Alfieri, who is also active in her church, plays community soccer, and holds a job, plans to attend Carnegie Mellon University in the fall. While undecided on a major, she expressed interest in choosing a career which would utilize her writing and communication skills.

Kysor and Alfieri received their awards during a luncheon at the St. Bonaventure Clubhouse earlier this week.

Iorfido Wrestling Camp not just takedowns and reversals

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
June 30, 2011

Outside Port Allegany High School last week, it was a typical early-summer day, with kids splashing in the pool or lounging in the sun. Inside, it was a different story, with dozens of wrestlers and coaches sweating in the Gator gyms on the second day of the Bruno Iorfido Wrestling Camp.

But while the young wrestlers were there to work, there was plenty of laughter, too. The week-long camp is a learning experience, but it’s also a bonding and team-building exercise.

And perhaps most importantly, it’s to honor the memory of a fallen friend by carrying on his legacy.

When Sean Lathrop, Isaac Greeley, and some of their friends started a wrestling camp in Port Allegany in the late 1990’s, Iorfido, a four-time District 9 champ and two-time state placewinner from Ridgway who would go on to become a three-time NCAA Division II Academic All-American at Pitt-Johnstown and finish eighth at the 2003 national championships, was one of the local wrestlers who volunteered his time to teach.

So when Iorfido was killed in a car accident in July 2003, those friends decided to rename the camp and award scholarships in his memory. The flyer advertising this year’s camp reads in part – above a long list of former state and NCAA medalists, with more than a few champions included, scheduled to attend – “Bruno was an All-American both on the mat and in the classroom and epitomized what a young wrestler should strive to become. We are honored to have this non-profit camp in Bruno’s name and will continue to award $1000 scholarships to dedicated college wrestlers that emulate the same kind of character and drive.”

“The biggest thing we want to do is make sure at the end of the week, these kids know who Bruno was,” Greeley said. “He did everything right on the mat, worked hard in the classroom, prayed every night, did anything you ever asked him, and he looked you in the eye when he talked to you. Even if one or two kids can pick up that message, maybe incorporate that into their life, that’s kind of our goal, our premise of being here, I believe.”

Aaron Rendos added, “Going off what Isaac said, I wrestled with Bruno – he was actually my college roommate for two years – and he hit on every single point: good kid, stayed on track. Focused. That describes him in one word. I moved up here after I graduated and was the coach at Port Allegany for four years, and you won’t see another kid like Bruno. Kids aren’t built that way these days. He was one of a kind. Hopefully we can get these kids to pick something up, especially working through his eyes, working the way he would have. Special people don’t come along too often, but he was definitely one of those special people.”

The camp, which started at the elementary school with 20 participants, enrolled close to 100 this year, a milestone Lathrop expects to surpass next summer. Clarion High School coach Rob Sintobin – an NCAA All-American at Clarion University – has bought into what’s happening in Port Allegany, even calling the coach at his old high school in northwestern Ohio to talk him into making the 12-hour round trip with close to a dozen of his wrestlers.

“It’s been great. Everyone treats us really well,” Sintobin said. “I’ve never been treated this well anywhere, by the community and the people running the camps. It’s great for building the sport. For a hundred bucks, the kids are getting an unbelievable amount of wrestling and team-building. Just a week together of good, solid time together for everybody. I wish we could get more up here. It’s been fantastic. We love it.”

He continued, “Sometimes when you live in a small rural town where it’s a little bit sleepy sometimes – like a Clarion, or really any of the towns up in this part of Pennsylvania – to see that somebody can go to a big-name school and be part of a big-name program, be part of a UPJ or a Clarion or an Edinboro or even Penn State like Dirk Cowburn. Not only go there, but be successful there – be All-Americans and be national champions and be from places like this – it’s huge. We want our kids to see that, and know that that exists, it’s out there, it can be done by kids from little towns. It always seems like it’s somebody from somewhere else, but those kids come from these places too. So we want to give our kids that opportunity, and I think this camp opens the door for an opportunity like that. It shows our kids those things are possible.”

“I think Rob hit the nail on the head,” Greeley said. “It’s about offering kids that might not be given opportunities any other way an opportunity to be in front of great coaches, train alongside college wrestlers. We brought our team up, brought 16 kids up from Burrell in the Pittsburgh area. I think for the surrounding area, it’s just such an opportunity for young kids for the price – they’re normally going to pay three or four hundred dollars for a camp, easy – they can come to a camp for a hundred dollars. That’s just part of it, but it makes it affordable.”

With most of the clinicians working for free or minimal travel costs – “They’re doing it because they know who Bruno was,” Greeley said – and donations of food and lodging from the local community, the lion’s share of the registration fees goes directly toward the scholarships.

Jon Marc Burdick, a 2009 Smethport grad now wrestling at Division I Edinboro, was one of the recipients.

“It meant a lot, because I’ve known Bruno’s family,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot about Bruno. I never really got to know him, but I know a lot of his friends, his coaches, his family. Just to see how he was – with wrestling, and just living – it meant a lot that I could receive that on behalf of him.

“I was probably 13 when I started coming here, and I’m 20 now, so I’ve been coming for a good period of time. I know it’s helped me out a lot. It’s not an expensive camp, it’s just to help out people go to college, help out kids around here, just to make our area better, and no one’s making a profit off it. It’s just a way to help our area, help our local towns, whoever wants to get better. And the amount of talent that’s in both the rooms here is comparable to any college training camp you’d go to. It’s amazing what we can have here. Compare it to the Iowa or Penn State campus, and we have it in Port Allegany.”

“This is basically a summary of the whole thing,” Greeley concluded. “We’re a family – we’re basically all here for Bruno – and the family seems to be growing pretty steady. It seems like we attract the same type of people: Good people, honest people who work hard and love the sport of wrestling. That’s the kind of people we want to have here, and I think we can keep this going for a long time.”