Eighth-grade athletes Alessandra Cardamone and Gemma Siliciano, both of whom are members of the Academy of the Holy Angels Middle School's first volleyball and basketball teams, have earned the Archdiocese of Newark's Sportsmanship Award.
AHA Middle School Athletic Coordinator Sarah Chalmers, who organized these inaugural middle school sports programs, received the Discipleship Award.
The Very Reverend John J. Chadwick presided at the April 3 recognition ceremony, which was held at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark.
Cardamone and Siciliano were nominated by Chalmers for exemplary sportsmanship.
"During volleyball season, Alessandra was always willing and ready to teach those around her who were not experienced volleyball players," Chalmers said.
"She could regularly be found at practice off to the side working with another player, helping her master a skill. Being more experienced allowed her a level of comfort during practices that other players didn't always have."
Instead of opting to take it easy, Cardamone continually worked to improve her skills and those of her teammates.
"During games, she was always supportive of her team regardless of the outcome," Chalmers added.
"She constantly cheered her teammates on, and was willing to jump into any role on the court. Her leadership was a defining factor in bringing her team together."
Siciliano proved to be one of her basketball team's more experienced players.
"She worked to improve her skills while also building up those who were less experienced," Chalmers said, noting that Siciliano was respectful of all of her teammates and worked well with students from every grade and skill level.
"Gemma's confidence on the court translated to her team, and she worked unselfishly to support her teammates throughout every game."
"The basketball team worked together through illness, injuries, bad weather, and long stretches with multiple games. Gemma's leadership helped them endure a rough first season with grace and determination."
Chalmers added, "Both students work extremely hard in school, are inclusive of those around them, and are an all-around delight to teach and coach. I'm incredibly proud of the ways in which they have grown as student-athletes and how they represented our community this year."
"They will be an asset to any team they choose to join in the future, and I can't wait to watch them as they move into high school and continue to grow." Traci Koval, the dean of AHA Middle School, nominated Chalmers for her Discipleship Award. This honor is an expression of appreciation presented to adults who demonstrate commitment to young people and athletics in their parish or school.
"Sarah has been instrumental in helping to get our sports program up and running this year," Koval stated.
"She has spent countless hours coordinating shared spaces, creating schedules, and getting us involved in the CYO League. She is also our head volleyball coach and assistant basketball coach. Her latest project is running the spring volleyball clinic."
In addition to serving as athletic coordinator and coach for the middle school, Chalmers also teaches social studies, theater, and technology at AHA Middle School.