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Bethlehem, Pa., (May 25, 2017) – Pleasant Valley High School Senior Seth Slavin and Nazareth Area High School Senior Victoria Palochik were announced as the recipients of the 2017 Athlete of the Year Awards at the Fourth Annual Athlete of the Year Awards event held at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks and sponsored by Coordinated Health. In addition to the recognition, the two student-athletes each received a $10,000 scholarship award. The event’s keynote speaker was NFL All-Pro Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook.
The Athlete of the Year event is the culminating celebration of the Athlete of the Week program, sponsored by Coordinated Health. The 35-week program, featured in The Morning Call, gives the public the opportunity to vote from a pool of three weekly finalists, with each selected weekly winner receiving a $1,000 scholarship. Combined with the two Athlete of the Year scholarships, the value of the 2016-17 school year totals $55,000, making it the largest scholarship program of its kind in the region.
The event was co-hosted by Kristi Fulkerson of Service Electric Cable TV, with support from ESPN Lehigh Valley’s Happy Hour show hosts, Tom Fallon and Matt Markus. The Morning Call’s Keith Groller helped provide commentary on the weekly winners, rounding out a cast of some of the region’s top sports journalists.
The evening’s festivities centered on a speech by former Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, who spoke to the audience of 300 about perseverance in the face of adversity. A 9-year veteran of professional football, Westbrook made two Pro Bowl appearances and was inducted into the 2015 Eagles Hall of Fame before becoming a sports commentator and founder of a nonprofit foundation for underprivileged youth.
“There are 35 of you here, you have a platform now,” said Westbrook. “Serve your community, help someone else. Use your platform for good. If you want to make a difference in this world, you challenge yourself to help others. I challenge you all tonight.”
Following Westbrook’s speech, the Athlete of the Year winners were revealed by Dr. DiIorio and Westbrook. Victoria Palochik, the Female Athlete of the Year, is committed to Drexel University and will pursue a career as an orthopedic surgeon. A versatile swimmer, Palochik earned three gold medals in one PIAA 3A meet, in the 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 200 medley relay. She carries a 3.9 GPA and is an Honor Roll student.
Male winner Seth Slavin, who also received the “Fan Favorite” award for having received the highest online voting total forAthlete of the Year, plans to attend Lehigh University. Slavin ranks second in his class and is president of both the Math and Science clubs at Pleasant Valley High School. The Morning Call named him the Boys Cross Country Runner Of The Year, and like Palochik, he also earned several gold medals and accolades.
All 35 candidates were considered based on three criteria – Academics, Leadership and Athletics – and each athlete showed strong commitment to their teammates, schools and communities.