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Michael J. L. Suojanen Memorial Athletics Scholarship

Funded by
user profile avatar
Jonathan Fisher
1 winner$1,200
Application Deadline
Jan 26, 2022
Winners Announced
Feb 27, 2022
Education Level
High School
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
Must be a high school senior
Must live in Pennsylvania
Must play a sport

Mentors and role models serve as critical sources of inspiration for those who look up to them. 

High school athletes in particular face a unique set of responsibilities, such as balancing training and competition schedules with their schoolwork. Mentors like Mike can have a real impact on their community by inspiring those around them.

This scholarship aims to honor the memory of Michael J. L. Suojanen by supporting high school seniors in Pennsylvania who play sports.   

Any athlete who is a high school senior and living in Pennsylvania may apply for this scholarship opportunity. Low-income and minority students are strongly encouraged to apply.

To apply, tell us about the person who has influenced your athletic pursuits the most and how they have affected your life. Please also share a short video of you playing your sport.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published October 20, 2021
Essay Topic

Tell us about the person who has influenced you the most in your athletic pursuits and the impact they have had on your athletic and personal life.

400–800 words

Winning Application

Sydney Roche
Northwest Pa Collegiate AcademyErie, PA
Over my athletic career, I've had many role models that have shaped my athletic pursuits; I am a triathlete. As a young child, I began swimming at the YMCA at the age of 6-months. I then went on to join my school's swim team in the third grade. It was there I met my first influential role model, Ken Fromnick. I was a new student at my school, trying out for the swim team. At my first practice, I was placed in the lane of the sweetest looking older gentleman you’d ever meet; but boy, was I wrong. Coach Ken pushed me to limits my 8-year-old self didn’t know existed, leaving me in tears in the pool my first practice. However, he taught me skills that I've carried with me to high school. He taught me how to push through when times get tough, in life and in the water, and to never ever take my eyes off the prize. Eventually, I aged out of Coach Ken's lane, and his coaching career had come to an end when his wife was diagnosed with cancer. His absence was felt by the whole team- we were missing one of our family members. I graduated from my grade school, but I still hear Coach Ken in the back of my head. Now swimming was the first sport I ever joined, but not my only. In middle school, I developed my love for the competitiveness of soccer but had many coaches come and go. When I went to high school it was the same. My love for the game never changed, no matter who was coaching me. I had been fortunate enough to have teammates who pushed me to be the best version of myself and never give up on the sport. Soccer taught me a love for others and a greater love for the game than I could have ever imagined. It brought me some of my best friends. Senior year, I was fortunate enough to have been appointed team captain and was taught many tough leadership skills. However, it was in my junior year that I made the decision that has changed my life. On November 28, 2020, from the comfort of my living room, I watched history be made. Vanderbilt University’s own, Sarah Fuller, became the first female to ever play in a Power 5 football game. Sarah inspired me beyond belief, and after that game, I decided that I was going to make history on my own. During the 2021 football season, I became the first female to ever start and score in a football game in PIAA District 10 history. I was the first female football player ever at Erie High, and it was all because of Sarah Fuller. She took the first step for women and inspired me and others. Now I don’t know Sarah personally, but she did respond to my Instagram DM once; she is who I would say inspired me the most. As far as influence, I have not had that “one memorable coach”. I never had the person you look back on that pushed you your whole life, that parent who wanted you to live out their high school dream, or the trainer who wanted you to succeed. However, through all three sports, many different teams, and crazy experiences, I have had myself. I've pushed myself harder than any coach could ever, and I have done everything through my own determination. I spent hours at the field during the fall working on my soccer and football skills, hours in the pool even when the coach calls off practice, and even more time missing out on family events to participate in these sports. Everything I've done athletically has been because I have believed in myself, and sometimes that's all it takes. If you dream it, you can do it. I made history. I pushed through months of physical and emotional pain to make MY dreams come true. And, I would do it over and over again because I have loved every moment. Every time I see a football go through the uprights, it's like seeing it for the first time. Every time I dive into the pool, it's like I’m six months old again. Every time I slip my cleats on, it's like I am 5 years old in the YMCA gym. Sports have been a huge part of my entire life, and like many athletes, sports have shaped me into the person I am today. I am determined, I am perseverant, I am brave, strong, passionate, and most of all, I am me. I may not be the best athlete on the team, I may not be Division 1 bound, but I have accomplished so much, athletically and personally, and I'm proud of myself.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jan 26, 2022. Winners will be announced on Feb 27, 2022.

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