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PUNXSUTAWNEY â€” While every move Punxsy's high school athletes make on the court is accessible for all to see, a number of PAHS student athletes are also excelling in other areas off the court â€” areas such as academics.
This past week, Punxsy senior Alex Fedigan, son of Tom and Melissa Fedigan, was informed by head football coach Alan Nichol of an honor he received for displaying leadership not only on the football field last fall but in the classroom, as well: Being named to the Pennsylvania Football News All-Academic Team - Gold Level.
To attain the Gold Level status, Fedigan didn't just have to succeed in the classroom, he had to acquire a grade point average (GPA) of 3.8-4.0.
"Alex is one of those kinds of leaders that excels in every aspect of his life in terms of being very well disciplined," Nichol said after telling Fedigan of the achievement. "And he has set very high goals for himself. In the classroom, on the field and in training, he's very well conditioned, and that just goes right along with this award. He's set a very good example for our team with a disciplined lifestyle."
On the field, Fedigan showed promise and success in all aspects of Punxsy's game â€” offensively, defensively and on special teams.
As a running back, he rushed for a total of 629 yards in his nine games, averaging 5.33 yards per carry and scoring a total of seven touchdowns â€” including a three-touchdown game in a 42-6 victory over A-C Valley to kick off the Chucks' season.
Fedigan also caught six passes for a total of 100 yards over the season.
On the other side of the ball, Fedigan had 21 tackles and recovered a fumble for the Chucks; while on special teams, he served as a returner, earning a total of 200 return yards on top of his rushing totals.
Given his success on the field and knowing his personality and work ethic, Nichol wasn't surprised when Fedigan was named to the All-Academic team. He even went on to praise all of Punxsy's athletes â€” saying those participating in the sports that have more events, such as winter sports and cheerleading, have a difficult task to keep their grades up.
"I think he used his discipline as a tool of success in these endeavors," Nichol said. "Being a very good student will obviously lead to a lot of very good opportunities for him. It's very important for student athletes to keep a good balance, and that's not always easy to do. He went from football season to basketball season, and those winter sports are grueling, because there are so many events.
"To keep your grades up and come back and stay focused on good grades just says a lot about his discipline and his desire to succeed."
While the Chucks didn't have the best season on the scoreboard, going 3-7 on the season, Nichol praised his senior leaders and the positive influence their attitudes were having on the younger players all season long. Fedigan was no exception, serving as a mentor to those just behind him in school both on and off the field, Nichol said.
"I think you lead by example quite a bit, and we see it in some of our younger guys already," he said. "You spend time with your teammates, and they're the kind of guys that are leading by example, making sure their grades are good."
Fedigan was a team captain for the Chucks, and Nichol said leadership is one of the qualities his other players seek in their captain.
"Our captains are elected by their teammates, and it was obvious from the beginning the other players had recognized Alex was a very good leader in the school simply by the fact that they readily accepted his leadership," Nichol added. "That respect built over the years from having class with him and knowing he's prepared and ahead of the game in the classroom. I'm very happy our other players can see what that's all about and the price you have to pay to be successful."
Nichol added one final sentiment that encompassed all his senior leaders, saying how proud he was of them for their character amid a losing season.
"All in all, there were just so many positive things that occurred that didn't necessarily translate to wins this year," he said. "But with Alex â€” and all of those seniors â€”Â the things they did in the locker room and in the school set a very positive example for us."
Upon hearing he'd been named to the All-Academic squad, Fedigan acknowledged the honor it was to be named and gave credit where he felt it was due â€” back to coach Nichol.
"It's a real honor to receive this award," he said. "I accredit my success to coach Nichol's ability to motivate and encourage me to do my best on and off the field."
While many athletes strive toward athletic scholarships to assist in funding their education, Fedigan received a different sort of scholarship, as he has been accepted to Duquesne University to study biology/pre-med in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences on a partial academic scholarship.
Nichol said he wishes Fedigan nothing but the best as he strives to reach his goals, at college and beyond â€” a sentiment the entire town of Punxsy can echo.View more articles in: