Honoring Scholar Athletes: They are from down the street and across the state. They are the best and brightest of us. And with high school sports at a standstill because of the coronavirus pandemic, there is no better time than to make a big deal, a very big deal, of the 360 Connecticut seniors recognized Sunday as CAS-CIAC Scholar Athletes.
A male and female from each CIAC school, whose academic and athletic careers have been exemplary, whose personal standards and achievements are a model to others, have been selected each year since 1984. With COVID-19, the actual banquet could not be held this year. Still, there is a virtual banquet at 6:30 p.m. Sunday on Fox61 and GameTimeCT.com.
We’ll spotlight seven winners here. One’s older sister and mom won the award. One lives in my town. Another brought music when we needed it most. All 360 deserve our applause.
Lindsey Abramson first heard of the CIAC Scholar-Athlete Award when she was a freshman. Her older sister Abby, who pitched the undefeated Cheshire softball team to the Class LL title in 2016 and was named state Gatorade Player of the Year in 2017, won the award as a senior.
“My mom hadn’t talked about it,” Lindsey said. “Obviously, it was a while ago in her past. When my sister won it, my mom goes, ‘That award sounds familiar. I think I got that when I was in high school, too.’”
Sure enough, Annemarie Vitka, now Dr. Annemarie Vitka Abramson, a Waterbury optometrist, was a St. Joseph-Trumbull Scholar Athlete in 1986.
Big sis. Check.
No pressure, Lindsey.
“It’s amazing to win it,” Abramson said. “It’s very special. It not only recognizes athletic ability, but academic achievement. For both to be highlighted, it felt like my hard work was paying off.
“My sister has always been my role model. I watched her go through the high school process, the college process. Her success motivated me to push myself as hard as I can.”
Abby, who plays softball at Penn, is majoring in a mix of neuroscience and psychology.
Lindsey, who has carried a 4.96 GPA as a senior and 4.46 overall, will play volleyball at Kenyon College in Ohio. Undecided on a major, she is interested in neuroscience and engineering.
“When I first looked at Kenyon, I absolutely shut it down,” Abramson said. “It was so far away. But my first visit there, it blew me away. The students were so kind, cared about their learning and bought into the experience and wanted to help each other. The coaches and facilities were great. It was right for me.”
Abramson, selected second-team All-State in volleyball by GameTimeCT and the Connecticut Coaches High School Association, played in her last high school event on Nov. 14. The Rams lost in the state tournament to eventual Class LL champion Trumbull. Nov. 14 seems like 14 years ago, doesn’t it? Emma Watkinson and Ari Perlini, two of her best friends and classmates, played both volleyball and softball with her. The bonds run deep.
“It’s definitely heartbreaking for what would have been our last high school season,” Abramson said. “It’s also my last softball games since I’m not playing it in college. For me to stay positive, I try to keep thinking sometimes it’s not about us as individuals. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to in order to help the greater good.”
During the pandemic, the Cheshire softball team, which advanced to the Class LL semis last year, sent out a video, “Let’s help spread something.” Virtually flipping the ball to each other, they each sent a few words of inspiration: Be grateful. Work hard. Be understanding. Show love. Be kind. Be inclusive. It went on for 84 powerful seconds.
Thousands viewed it.
“It sent a good message,” Abramson said.
So now Abramson, who also has been involved in Peer Health, Best Buddies, student government and various honor societies, keeps busy with workouts sent out by softball coach Kristine Drust. She runs and bikes on the local linear trail.
“When my sister found out I won the award, she told me how proud she was of me and that she loved me,” Lindsey said. “She knows first-hand how much work you have to put in.”
“Same,” she said. “She’s just so proud of her daughters.”
As she should be.