Brentwood honors scholar-athletes

| Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

While taking separate paths to get to the same place, Laura McGowan and Andrew Stofesky were named the Brentwood senior scholar-athlete award winners for the 2013-14 school year.

Both were multi-sport athletes, but made their mark on the basketball court.

For McGowan, it was all about keeping the award in the family. Older siblings Paul and Alixanne took home the same award.

“My sister and brother gave me a work ethic from watching their accomplishments,” McGowan, who graduated with a 4.5 GPA, said.

“It definitely meant a lot to me. I always put academics first. Getting acknowledged for that was something that was important to me.”

McGowan earned four varsity letters in basketball. She also played softball as a junior and moved on to track and field as a senior to throw the discus, shot put and javelin.

It was on the hardwood where McGowan had the biggest impact, as she helped the Lady Spartans finish 15-7 overall in 2013-14 and reach the WPIAL playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.

The 6-foot center averaged 16 points and six rebounds per game in 2013-14.

Remembering how the seniors took her under their wing upon her arrival as a freshman from St. Sylvester School, McGowan made it her mission to perpetuate the camaraderie.

“Laura is just one of those athletes that you dream about coaching,” said Rachel Thomas, head coach of the Brentwood girls' basketball team. “She was just eager to learn and she was very helpful to the underclassman.

“It didn't matter what grade, she liked hanging out with them. It was important to her that everyone got along. She knew the value of her teammates.”

McGowan will play basketball at King's College in Wilkes-Barre next season and plans to enroll in an accelerated physician's assistant program.

Stofesky had to make a comeback to earn his share of the award.

The sharpshooting guard took a nasty spill that resulted in a shattered right (shooting) wrist while fighting for a rebound during the second game of his junior year.

After healing and rehabilitating, Stofesky averaged 13 points per game this past season.

“He was the best 3-point shooter in our conference,” said Dave Mislan, the Spartans' head coach.

“I was just happy to play,” Stofesky said. “I just enjoyed every minute of it.”

That happy-go-lucky attitude served him well while he was out of the lineup. Even without the use of his right hand, Stofesky still could be seen at Brentwood practices and games cheering his teammates on and dribbling a basketball with his left hand.

“He's about as perfect a kid as you're going to come across,” Mislan said. “He's the ultimate role model and just a fun kid who takes care of his academics.

“The kid is the happiest kid in the world. He doesn't take everything too serious, but he's on top of his business.”

Stofesky also ran cross country and on the Spartans' track team, competing in the 800-meter event as well as the 3,200-meter relay.

And he did all this while holding down a part-time job at a local Giant Eagle.

Stofesky will attend Pitt in the fall, but is undecided on a major. He graduated with a 4.39 GPA and was a member of the National Honor Society.

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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