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Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists Awards
"Comeback Player of the Year" Scholarships

Thursday, April 26, 2012

PHOTO CAPTION: (Left to right) Dr. John M. Aversa (Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists), Nick Pisanelli, Lily Laster, Dr. Richard Diana (Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists) and Al Carbone (SCC Commissioner)

Photo by Bill O'Brien, SCC

Hamden, CT -- Two senior student athletes - Lily Laster (Hamden HS) and Nick Pisanelli (Mark T. Sheehan HS) - are the recipients of the 2012 "Comeback Player of the Year" scholarship award. Both students overcame severe injuries during their high school careers, yet were able to overcome them to become outstanding role models in their respective schools.

A corporate sponsor of the Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC), Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists P.C. (COS) offered a Comeback Player of the Year Scholarship for one male and one female athlete who participated in an interscholastic sport during the 2011/2012 season, and showed great leadership both on and off the field after their severe injury.

Coaches and school's athletic directors nominated these student-athletes after they each suffered an unfortunate injury that prohibited them from play during their high school careers. Lily and Nick each received a $1,000 scholarship to be used for their college education.

"This is our second year in awarding student-athletes from the SCC with scholarships," explained Glenn Elia, Chief Executive Officer of COS. "Our goal has been to acknowledge two athletes that have overcome the challenges of an injury and, through hard work and determination, have become positive role models for their fellow teammates. We know there are scholarships for gifted athletes. This one is for their impeccable character displayed both on and off the field."

"Many thanks to the doctors and staff at Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists for their support of the SCC and for creating this scholarship," explained SCC Commissioner Al Carbone. "Our league has many outstanding student-athletes who excel in the classroom and on the field, but we are delighted that two exceptional young people in Lily Laster and Nick Pisanelli can be recognized for their wonderful stories of perseverance and courageousness."

Lily Laster, Hamden - Soccer

A midfielder, Lily Laster suffered a devastating knee injury in the fall of 2010, tearing her ACL, MCL and PCL. After successful surgery, she remained active with the team offering support and advice to her teammates.

Her perseverance and enthusiasm during her nine months of intense rehabilitation allowed her to return to the Green Dragons' squad and she was named a captain for the 2011 season. She played in all 16 games to lead the team to a winning season (8-7-1). Lily was a recipient of the Coaches Award by the Connecticut Girls Soccer Coaches Association.

Hamden head girls soccer coach Gary Collins said, "Lily is a true testament of what it takes to overcome adversity by having courage, motivation and determination. She is clearly a role model and that was evidenced by her teammates naming her a captain for her senior season."

Lily will attend Eastern Connecticut State University in the fall.

Nick Pisanelli, Sheehan - Golf

In the middle of his sophomore year, Nick was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma, which is an rare aggressive cancer that was attacking his abdominal area. Nick was unable to play competitive golf for two years and that spend in recovery, including studying at home. Through this difficult time, he remained connected with his teammates and coaches and focused on his recovery and his commitment to rejoin the Titans' golf team.

He has since recovered, returned to school, and was elected golf captain for the 2012 season. In addition, Nick is a member of the Italian Club and has served as a student athletic trainer during the football season.

Sheehan golf coach Kevin Ainsworth said, "Nick deserves this scholarship not only because of what he had to endure and go through just to survive, but also due to the fact that he never lost sight of the team and wanting to make an eventual return. That passion may have actually been part of the healing and recovery process. It may have kept him focused on his ultimate goal."

Nick will attend Central Connecticut State University this fall.

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