There are so many bright young women and men in the United States, who aspire for greatness as they complete high school, or college, and want to make a difference, perhaps in the world, or maybe for just one individual.
Athletics is often credited with helping a young student-athlete become more focused on academics, with the rigorous demands on their time. At Immaculate Heart Academy, a senior softball player, Sarah Siclari, was recently named a recipient of the United States Presidential Award for performing over 200 hours of community service, which came from President Barack Obama.
Sarah, the daughter of Madi and Andrew Siclari and the youngest of three children, was also granted an Exceptional Service to the Homeless Award from the Immaculate Heart Academy Administration.
Sarah is an important part of IHA’s lineup, and a key hitter. She also pitches on occasion for the Eagles, and was a member of last year’s state championship team.
This year, IHA is having another tremendous season, and will be among the favorites to win a state title. And for Siclari, that thrill of victory is hard to top when it comes to a team accomplishment. But the reflective Siclari also realizes how important it is to be a leader for those, less fortunate.
“From a very young age, I was always taught that doing service is never about you, it’s about who you’re serving,” said Sarah. “If you feel good as a result of your actions, that’s great, but it should never be your goal.
“I was honored to win these two awards this year, especially since it was my second consecutive year receiving the award for Exceptional Service to the Homeless. It’s a cause that I work hard at. I am the group leader at IHA for the ‘Midnight Run’. We bring clothes, toiletries and hot meals to countless men, women and children in the streets of New York City. Each time we find some new faces, some more familiar, but each person is treated, as they deserve to be, with respect.
“My goal, when I serve, has always been to make sure someone new knows that they are loved, and never forgotten.”
Siclari’s commitment to helping others does go hand-in-hand with her athletic prowess. Bound for Muhlenberg College, where she’ll major in Psychology and Religion with a career goal in the field of social work, Sarah will also play collegiate softball.
“I’ve been playing softball since before I can remember, and it’s clearly a team sport,” she said. “The second you make it about you, you’re done. When I play, I play for my team. I’m not getting up to bat hoping to get a hit, so I’m mentioned in conversation the next morning. I get a hit because I know my team needs me, and I’m going to do everything I can for them. It’s the same way with service.
“When I’m out on the streets in New York, there’s a purpose. You are there to help someone, because they desperately need it, and you could be their only hope. You need to be someone’s happiness, you need to be their light, and you need to be the person that shows them they’re not forgotten, not alone.”
Siclari’s coach, Diana Fasano, isn’t surprised by Sarah’s commitment to not only the game, but her life’s work.
“On the field, Sarah is a team player,” said Fasano. “She can pitch, hit, and play first base. She always answers whenever I call on her, and is a great player on the field, and even a better young lady off it. These recognitions from the President of the United States, and our administration, speak volumes.”
Siclari’s work continues, on the diamond, the classroom, with the homeless, as well as being a proud owner of her dog, Quincy.
“I enjoy being that person,” she said. “I love meeting the people I do, because they have taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined. I am truly honored to win these awards, and I could not have done it without my amazing Campus Minister, Sarah Shutrop, my family (along with her parents and Sarah’s grandmothers, MaryJane Siclari and Louise Scott, older brother, Frank, 26, graduated Law School and older sister, Andrea, 24, is an elementary school teacher and one of the first leaders of ‘Midnight Run’) and my peers at IHA.”
(Will say it once again…Wow).