Student named Western Pennsylvania Positive Athlete

Fox Chapel Area School District  |  Posted on

When Colin Lazzara entered his freshman year at Fox Chapel Area High School, the COVID-19 pandemic had students learning from home, creating less than ideal circumstances. However, his senior year ended considerably different, filled with many accomplishments and topped with his selection as the 2024 Western Pennsylvania Boys Alternative Sport Positive Athlete for Unified Bocce.

The awards, issued by the Western Pennsylvania Positive Athlete organization, are based on a student-athlete’s character; positive attitude; and ability to lead, encourage and respect everyone around them.

This description perfectly captures Colin’s approach to life, on and off the field.

Soccer Offseason Led to Unified Sports

Since he was young, much of Colin’s time has been devoted to soccer, and he has earned many honors and awards throughout his four years on the Foxes varsity team. Even before he reached high school, Colin helped one of the special education teachers at Dorseyville Middle School by teaching some of her students how to play soccer.

After that experience, Colin knew he wanted to get involved with Best Buddies at the high school. Best Buddies is a program that connects people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities through friendships, jobs, sports and leadership.

Colin joined the group as a freshman and then, when Foxes varsity soccer concluded that season, he sought something different to do during the winter. That’s when Best Buddies co-sponsor and high school transition facilitator, Dr. Stacie Dojonovic, encouraged him to join the Unified Sports program, which is affiliated with Special Olympics.

There are two Unified Sports teams at the high school, bocce and track & field, and Colin competed in both. He remained with both teams through his senior year and was named captain of the bocce team in his final year.

Colin now says that Best Buddies and Unified Sports are a way of life that helped him broaden his perspective and taught him how to create a more inclusive environment.

Positivity and Unity

“I always tried to encourage the players and smile no matter what stressors I may have been experiencing,” says Colin. “My teammates made it easy.”

He fondly remembers the positive influence of 2023 graduate and bocce teammate Hyunsu Ro.

“I remember (when he was a junior) having a rough math test right before one of our bocce practices, and Hyunsu immediately brightened my mood,” Colin says. “We would joke around arguing about sports or who would win a race between us. His positivity was contagious, and I hoped I could impact others the way Hyunsu impacted me.”

Inclusive Environment

Reflecting on his experiences, Colin says, “Not everyone has the opportunity to compete in sports and I am fortunate to have been able to share my passion for competition with others. I learned many things from my bocce and soccer teammates including patience, determination and there is always a reason to smile. I am grateful for the friendships I made on both teams, and I will really miss them in college.”

In the fall, the new Fox Chapel area alum will take his talents and leadership skills to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he plans to study electrical engineering and minor in computer science.

With his extensive soccer experience, he was selected as a captain of the Foxes team in his senior year, named a member of the WPIAL 4A Section 1 Soccer Coaches Association team first team, and participated in the 2023 Western Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association all-star game. Colin also intends to try out for the university’s club soccer team.

With Best Buddies and United Sports leaving such a lasting impression, it’s probably a good indication that Colin will continue to apply what he’s learned about inclusivity and unity as he forges a new path in college and beyond.