Team USA includes a swimmer and a rower from the Pittsburgh, PA region’s only all-girls Catholic high school
It is rare for any school in the country to field an Olympic athlete, let alone two, but Oakland Catholic High School (OC) – the only all-girls Catholic high school in Western Pennsylvania – has earned the designation. Two alumnae from the Pittsburgh school are representing Team USA at Rio 2016.
Leah Smith, OC ’13 from the suburb of Mt. Lebanon, has qualified for three swimming events, while Amanda Polk, OC ’04 from the city’s Bloomfield neighborhood, will row in the historically dominant, eight-woman boat in crew.
Oakland Catholic High School President Mary Claire Kasunic is proud of how these young women exemplify the strength of their alma mater: "Amanda and Leah are motivated, well-rounded, accomplished women who have soared to the top of their fields. They are great athletes and great leaders."
Kasunic is quick to point out that both were outstanding students while at Oakland Catholic High School, and that their leadership abilities and competencies were never limited to sports. "We see Oakland Catholic alumnae achieve great things in all walks of life: the sciences, humanities, government, engineering, the arts…Amanda and Leah are two high-profile examples of how far our graduates go."
Oakland Catholic High School is well known for its academic reputation, nurturing atmosphere and gratifying mission trips, but it is also every bit the sports powerhouse. The school’s sports pedigree began when two-time Olympian and current University of Pittsburgh Women's Basketball Coach Suzie McConnell-Serio coached the high school's basketball team to five state finals from 1993 to 2003. Over the years, Oakland Catholic has won 15 state championships in basketball, swimming, fencing, and cheerleading and 17 WPIAL titles between basketball and swimming.
The entire Oakland Catholic community is excited to cheer on Amanda and Leah in Rio this August. They are proud of the accomplishments of these two athletes in the perseverance of excellence and the relentless pursuit of their goals.
About Oakland Catholic High School
Founded in 1989 by the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Oakland Catholic (OC) High School is a Catholic college preparatory school for young women in grades 9-12 that is committed to promoting spirituality, scholarship and service. Located in the educational heart of the city, the school serves an ethnically, socio-economically, and geographically diverse population of approximately 580 students from the City of Pittsburgh as well as forty-four suburban school districts. Oakland Catholic ranks as one of the top 20 Catholic high schools in the nation for academics and one of the top 50 Catholic high schools in the nation overall, as named by the Acton Institute for Academic Excellence. Visit: http://oaklandcatholic.org.
About the Author
We welcome guest contributors who graciously volunteer their writing for our readers. Please support our guest writers by visiting their sites, purchasing their work, and leaving comments to thank them for sharing their gifts here on CatholicMom.com. To inquire about serving as a guest contributor, contact editor@CatholicMom.com.