Scharff, now Suprano, was girls sports pioneer at Springdale
When Laurie (Scharff) Suprano was a freshman at Springdale in the early 1970s, the school was in the beginning stages of introducing softball as club activity.
Most other girls sports also were being introduced on a club basis, a trend at many schools in the area, and Suprano used the opportunity to create a lifelong bond with athletics.
Suprano, 60, was part of a generation that paved the path for high school girls athletics. In the 43 years since graduating from Springdale in 1976, she has continued to be involved in athletics.
An MVP of the Dynamos softball and volleyball teams her senior year, Suprano is one of the eight inductees in the 2019 Alle-Kiski Sports Hall of Fame class that will be honored at the 50th annual banquet May 18 at the New Kensington Quality Inn.
“It’s certainly humbling,” Suprano said of the honor. “I was surprised with the nomination and then the announcement that I was a part of the induction class this year. It’s been an exciting journey to look back on all of the years.”
Suprano was around when the WPIAL started holding championships for most girls sports. The first WPIAL softball championship was in 1972, and the first WPIAL volleyball and basketball champions were crowned in 1973.
“We weren’t even sanctioned by the school (for softball), but they gave us an opportunity to play,” Suprano said. “The school districts were just introducing the chance to participate.”
Suprano also played basketball. It made for a busy schedule but one she enjoyed. Playing sports also provided the opportunity to shape her personality and set up the future.
“In high school, there wasn’t a day that I didn’t have a practice or a game,” Suprano said. “I enjoyed that part of it. There are many things that you learn in high school playing sports, like dedication, perseverance and all of those intangible things that go beyond how to hit a ball or how to make a basket. There are a lot of lessons that carried over in life like in my job or family situations. Those things are still important to me now.”
In a letter of support for the Hall of Fame nomination, Edith Koleno, Suprano’s volleyball coach at Springdale, described Suprano’s leadership skills, detailing how she helped younger players hone their skills. The letter also stated she was “never a slacker” and always looked to improve her game.
After graduation, Suprano continued to play softball. She is in two leagues: a senior women’s league in Penn Hills with friends she’s had for many years and a co-ed league with her husband, Gene, at Officer Derek Kotecki Memorial Park in Lower Burrell.
Suprano also spent a brief time as a high school softball umpire and junior varsity and recreational league basketball referee.
In 2003, she moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C., where she continued to play softball year-round before moving back to Western Pennsylvania in 2017.
While in Myrtle Beach, she joined the Recreational Center’s “Choose to Train” program and started running 5K’s and half marathons. Suprano was planning to run the half-marathon Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Suprano has eight grandchildren, and when she isn’t attending their sporting events, she typically finds herself on the diamond or in a gym. She participates with the Senior Olympics of Western Pennsylvania and plans on staying active for the foreseeable future.
“We just got our softball schedules for both leagues, and the nice weather is just arriving, so I’m looking forward to keeping busy until the cold weather comes again,” Suprano said. “But the cold weather allows us to play volleyball and basketball. I don’t plan to slow down anytime soon.”