WINDBER – A quintet of Windber Area High School seniors formally announced their intentions to continue their academic and athletic careers at the college level on Tuesday.
Hope Bidelman, Waynesburg volleyball: A four-year starter on the volleyball court, Bidelman noticed Waynesburg’s charm once on campus.
“I looked at a lot of schools, but out of everywhere I visited, Waynesburg just had the best community and I felt the most welcomed,” Bidelman explained her decision. “I knew I could succeed the best there. Everybody was so nice. It was just perfect for me.”
After compiling 244 kills and 362 digs over the past three seasons, the 5-foot-8 outside hitter noticed a rare synergy on the Yellow Jackets’ volleyball squad.
“The team was very welcoming. I actually knew a few girls on the team, and even some of the recruits, I played with or played against them,” Bidelman said. “They said it was so shocking to them how close they are.”
Bidelman will major in biology/pre-dental. Bidelman’s dedication to volleyball helped her catapult her career in college.
“When I first started volleyball, I was not very good,” she said. “Then I worked tirelessly to get to the point where I am now.
“It’s nice to see everything finally paid off.”
Bidelman is the daughter of Beth Mitchell, of Windber, and Jeff Bidelman, of Richland.
Kacey Costlow, Pitt-Greensburg soccer: After totaling 89 goals over her high school career, Costlow found a similar bond that ultimately led her to commit to the Pitt-Greensburg soccer program.
“I was leaning towards either Thiel or Pitt-Greensburg,” Costlow said. “The Pitt-Greensburg team was a lot more welcoming, and I felt my skill level fit that team better. The girls were very nice. A lot of them are in the medical career field, which is where I’m going to major in.”
Costlow will major in pre-dentistry.
She lettered four years in soccer, which included three seasons as captain, and two years in track and field.
The forward, who amassed the second most amount of assists in program history, was a key cog in the soccer team winning three consecutive District 5 titles and compiling a 55-10-1 record over that span.
“Honestly, it meant a lot. We started out as a very, very young team,” Costlow said.
“My freshman year, we lost in the district semifinals, but we continued to push and push, and we grew into such a magnificent team.”
Costlow, who scored 30 goals as a sophomore, is the daughter of Greg and Jane Costlow, of Windber.
Tom Hanik, Waynesburg football: A three-year starting quarterback, Hanik will make a full-time transition to the defensive side of the ball at Waynesburg, where he found the perfect blend of academics and football.
“The program that they have in place, it’s a five-year athletic training program that sets me up to do two years of physical therapy to get dual certified in both,” Hanik said. “I just liked talking to the coaches and some of the players. It’s just a real nice environment to be in.”
Hanik was recruited as a linebacker, where he was a disruptive force totaling 72 tackles, 14 for loss, last fall. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound athlete totaled 286 tackles, 35 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles over four campaigns.
At quarterback, Hanik amassed 1,383 passing yards and 14 touchdowns in a run-dominated single-wing offense.
Hanik lettered four years in football, three in basketball and track and field.
The forward compiled over 500 career rebounds on the hardwood.
Hanik is the son of Tom and Rena Hanik, of Windber.
Tyler Napora, St. Francis cross country: A chance to continue his running career at the Division I level, combined with an elite health sciences program helped Napora steer his decision to Loretto.
“With them having an excellent health sciences program and their masters of cancer care program, it made it a very easy option to be able to go there and pursue a career in oncology,” Napora said. “This is the college for me.”
Napora will major in biochemistry, with the hopes of getting his masters in St. Francis’ noted cancer care program. A close-knit squad made the decision even easier to join the cross country program.
“My first visit out there, it was almost like it was in high school,” Napora explained.
“The kids on the cross country team made it very easy to go in and mold with the team, they were very personable. It made it feel like home really.”
Napora lettered four times in track and field and twice each in cross country and soccer.
He finished third at the 2017 and 2018 District 5 Class A cross country meet and advanced to the PIAA meet each year.
Napora is the son of Stephen and Sheri Napora, of Windber.
Jenna Neri, Seton Hill soccer: A defensive stalwart on the three-time District 5 championship soccer team, Neri found her next home in Greensburg.
“I’m just really excited to continue growing as a person and as a soccer player,” Neri said. “I’m just excited to move to that next level and challenge myself.”
Neri was a defender on a team that allowed just 16 goals in 22 games last fall.
Over the past four seasons, the Ramblers recorded a whopping 44 shutouts.
“It’s just amazing. That’s the main goal is to not have them score, obviously,” Neri said.
“Growing as a team and as an individual, it was just amazing to see.”
Playing college soccer was not always on Neri’s radar.
“I actually didn’t know if I was going to be playing college soccer until the last minute,” Neri said.
“I just know that soccer is something that I can’t live without.
“It’s something that gives me that outlet in life.”
Neri, who will major in art therapy, lettered four years each in soccer and track and field.
Neri is the daughter of Dan and Ann Neri, of Windber.