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B'nai B'rith celebrates 50 years of honoring student-athletes

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By Daily Courier
Friday, May 25, 2007

B'nai B'rith Fayette Lodge No. 471 has developed a tradition of honoring Fayette County student-athletes who have demonstrated excellence in academics, athletics and sportsmanship.

This year, B'nai B'rith will recognize some of the area's top high school senior student-athletes at the organization's 50th annual Sports Award Night on Tuesday at the Uniontown Jewish Community Center. The festivities begin with a banquet at 6 p.m.

"For 50 years, we have done this, and it is beneficial to the members of the lodge because we get a first-hand glimpse of our wonderful youth," B'nai B'rith secretary Ralph Mazer said. "They leave us with the feeling that everything in the future will be all right and that Fayette County will be well-represented in the future."

Connellsville's Elizabeth Bell, Geibel's Sabrina Szabo and Frazier's Sara Zebley are among this year's award winners. Coaches nominate the award winners.

In her years at Connellsville High School, Bell was a standout soccer and softball player, earning multiple varsity letters in each sport. She earned numerous awards in soccer, including the team's Best Defensive Player Award. She also earned the Most Improved Award for the Lady Falcons in softball. She was a wrestling team manager for three seasons.

Bell is an Academic All-Star. She was named Connellsville Rotary Student of the Month in October and earned the USAA International Foreign Language Award. She was a Wendy's High School Heisman nominee, is vice president of the Connellsville National Honor Society and is a member of the Spanish National Honor Society and Venture Crew.

"It is a great honor to nominate Miss Bell for this prestigious award," Connellsville softball coach Max Bukovac said. "She is not only a good student-athlete, but also a very well-rounded person."

Bell also received praise from her soccer coach, Jeff Puskar.

"Besides all of her accomplishments on the field, she has been very successful off the field as well," Puskar said. "I'm glad I have had the chance to coach Elizabeth, and I know she will be successful in whatever she may do in the future."

Szabo is a four-year letterwinner in basketball, soccer and softball. She was a captain and received All-Fayette County recognition in each of those sports. Her academic honors include Spanish National Honor Society, National Honor Society and Highest Honors at Geibel.

Szabo is her class president and has taken part in a long list of extracurricular activities, including band, chamber ensemble, chorus, student council and SADD. She has received several awards, including Fayette County Chamber of Commerce Student of the Month and Elks Student of the Month.

Zebley is a four-year varsity letterwinner for the Frazier volleyball team. She also played softball as a freshman. She was an All-Fayette County volleyball player and earned the Presidential Fitness Award.

The Frazier senior is a member of the National Honor Society. Her extracurricular activities include band, school newspaper and yearbook editor and drama club. Zebley also a member of the country music band Girlz in Black Hats.

Other Fayette County high school seniors that will be recognized at this year's banquet include Laurel Highlands' Casey Conn, Uniontown's Devan Grote, Albert Gallatin's Dave Mitchell and Brownsville's Nicole Kerestine. Other honorees include Penn State-Fayette's Kelli Kite and Special Olympics recipient Janine Swaney.

In addition to honoring the student-athletes, B'nai B'rith Lodge No. 471 will award a cash scholarship to Debra Ellis. This scholarship awardee is selected by the admissions committee at Penn State-Fayette. The award is given to a Fayette County resident and is based on scholastic merit and need.

The guest speaker at this year's banquet is former Steelers linebacker Robin Cole.

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