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Jeannette senior Cortazzo is a player for all fields

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Delaney Cortazzo, a guard for the Lady Jays, is a three-sport athlete. Kristie Linden | The Jeannette Spirit
Delaney Cortazzo drives the ball up the court in the Lady Jays' win over Steel Valley in the second round of the WPIAL playoffs. John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit

Delaney Cortazzo, a senior at Jeannette High School, is active throughout the year participating in soccer, basketball and softball.

Her main sport is softball — she'll be playing at Fairmont State University in the fall — but she is happiest when she's active and has always played a sport each season of the year.

Cortazzo began playing basketball about nine years ago in the Knee High Basketball program.

She said her mother signed her up for the sport, “probably because my sister (Kirstie Cortazzo) did it.”

She has stuck with the sport mainly because she enjoys her time with her teammates, many of whom she plays with in each sport. “I've grown up with these girls, playing all of my life.”Cortazzo is a guard for the Lady Jays and said defense is her favorite aspect of the game. “I'm good at it and I'm quick. I like the tempo of the game, I like to be moving,” said Cortazzo.

The Lady Jays are in the midst of WPIAL playoffs and this team “works hard,” Cortazzo said. “We've been playing together so long, we can tell what each other is thinking. We have chemistry.”

Coach LuAnn Mills pushes the team, Cortazzo said, the way a good coach needs to push players.

“She's funny when she needs to be funny, but she's serious when she needs to be serious.”After the team's first round bye and second round win against Steel Valley, the Lady Jays began to hear rumblings that they could win the championship again.

If this year's team wins the WPIAL championship, the seniors will have successfully bookended their Jeannette High School tenure.

As a freshman, Cortazzo was part of the team that won the WPIAL title, in her sophomore year they came in second place in the finals, in her junior year the girls were section champs and this year the Lady Jays made history, becoming the first girls basketball team in Jeannette to have won the section title four years in a row.

“I like that there's something about the girls now at Jeannette High School. We finally made history and it's not all about the boys. This is something people will remember.”

This year's seniors have an opportunity to do something very few high school teams get a chance to do, and they're well aware of it.

Cortazzo has an extra boost behind her play right now. Her father, Chris Cortazzo, passed away earlier this month. “He pushes me to play harder,” she said.

“We want to make it to the Palumbo (Center). Our team doesn't like to lose. No one in Jeannette likes to lose.”

Cortazzo hopes to see the basketball playoffs through to the end, but admits she's anxious for the warm weather to arrive and bring with it softball season. She'll head to Fairmont this summer and she couldn't be more excited about it.

“I'm ready to leave right now. I'm excited to get to play college ball.”

Cortazzo signed her intention to play at Fairmont last fall and she's glad to have that decision finalized.

“It's nice that I don't have to worry about where I'm going. I'm glad I got done early.”

She'll major in pre-med and is currently debating whether she'd like to ultimately become a physician's assistant or a nurse technician. “I like to help people and make them better,” said Cortazzo.

As her senior year on the basketball court wraps up and she is about to embark on her final season as a Lady Jay softball player, Cortazzo is thankful to her teammates, coaches and her family.

“Thank you for pushing me to play harder, to be a smarter player and helping me to be the player I am today,” she said.

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at klinden@tribweb.com or 724-838-5154.

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