Positive attitude earns Fox Chapel's Capone Hines Ward honor

Marty Stewart
| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

An optimistic attitude, being an encouraging teammate, being a leader, having a heart for others, admitting imperfection, always giving 100 percent and putting the team first are attributes needed to win the Western Pennsylvania Hines Ward Positive Athlete Award.

Put them all together and you have Kelly Capone, a Fox Chapel Area High School senior who played on the tennis team.

Capone has been selected as the winner of the Western Pennsylvania Hines Ward Positive Athlete Award for girls' tennis.

The Positive Athlete Award is issued to high character athletes who are role models and promote a positive spirit.

“Even though Kelly has faced some difficult challenges, she always has maintained an attitude that has inspired the team and coaches,” said Alex Slezak, Fox Chapel Area varsity tennis coach. “Her passion for the sport and her positive outlook on everything, not just tennis, make her really special.”

She admits to being surprised to win the award.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Capone said. “Our JV coach, Laura Ward, nominated me. It's a great honor and I'm proud to be receiving it.”

Capone has been playing tennis for about six years and her love for the sport kept her going during an illness.

“Over the last few years, I've had a lot of health issues and had to miss a lot of school,” Capone said. “But whenever the team had a match, I did what I had to do to be there. I pretty much sucked it up and gave my best.”

Capone, primarily a doubles player, hopes to keep playing tennis in college. She's undecided where she wants to go but she would like to stay close to home. She will major in psychology or political science.

“I know I won't make it on a D-I team but I think that I can play for a D-II or D-III team or even play on a club team. I love the game and I try to play every day,” she said. “For the past few years, my summer job has been coaching tennis at Coach Slezak's camps.”

Laura Ward knew that Capone was just what the Hines Ward organization was looking for.

“Kelly is an amazing lady who gives her all in tennis and in life. She inspires us every day with her positive outlook. It's easy to see why she was selected,” Ward said. “She has been a team leader throughout her four years playing tennis and she's a role model for the younger players.”

Kelly will be presented the award by Hines Ward in a ceremony at the Senator John Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum in downtown Pittsburgh on April 20 from noon to 2 p.m. WPXI Sports Anchor Rich Walsh and MSA Sports' Don Rebel will serve as the masters of ceremony.

“This is the second year for the Positive High School Athlete Awards, and the stories of our nominees continue to amaze me,” Ward said. “I was always credited with having a positive influence on my team during my days with the Steelers, but the stories I hear about kids like Kelly really inspire me to be a better person.”

In addition to an awards' certificate signed by Ward, Kelly will take photos with the former Super Bowl MVP and receive an autographed Positive Athlete Dedication T-shirt.

“I'm excited about meeting him and getting the photos and autograph,” Capone said. “I don't know if there will be dancing there but if there is, I'd like to dance with him. He's obviously pretty good.”

Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or mstewart@tribweb.com.

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