Courtney O’Bryan was a remarkable young woman; an intelligent, enthusiastic, loyal and loving friend to so many. The 2011 Huntington High School graduate will never be forgotten at her alma mater, where her bright smile and upbeat disposition made a lasting mark on everyone.
A starter on the Huntington varsity girls’ soccer and basketball teams, Ms. O’Bryan displayed a feisty style of play. Committed to her studies, she was admired by her teachers. Her sharp intellect, magnetic personality and easygoing nature along with an often hilarious sense of humor combined to win over classmates, coaches and faculty members in short order.
Courtney O'Bryan was a member of Huntington High School's Class of 2011.
Ms. O’Bryan, who moved to Huntington from Lynbrook as a fifth grader, graduated near the top of her class and headed off to Penn State University, where she embraced campus life, participating in the school’s IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, better known as THON, which raises funds to battle pediatric cancer.
The largest student-run philanthropy in the world, THON has raised more than $167 million since 1977 for The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. A large chunk of the monies have been collected during so-called “canning” weekends, which see Penn State students fanning out into other cities and states to solicit donations for the THON initiative.
After visiting her family in Huntington for Thanksgiving and stopping by the Huntington High School gym to shoot baskets with her former teammates and coaches, Ms. O’Bryan returned to the Penn State campus for a week of classes.
On Friday, December 2, 2011, the Blue Devil alum was a passenger in a car on its way to Buffalo for a canning weekend to raise money for THON and pediatric cancer research. At about 8:30 p.m. the car reportedly hit an icy patch of roadway in Lewis Run in northern Pennsylvania, careening out of control, flipping over, sliding down a highway embankment and crashing into a tree.
Ms. O’Bryan, who was riding in the backseat of the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder, was mortally injured and four other students in the car were hospitalized. The accident occurred on State Road 219, about one mile south of State Route 59 according to the Pennsylvania State Police.
The news hit Huntington like a proverbial “punch to the gut.” In the aftermath of the tragedy, Ms. O’Bryan’s family created a scholarship to perpetuate her memory and promote the qualities she so magnificently displayed. The scholarship is awarded annually to one female and one male senior athlete who are college bound and who participated in more than one team sport “exemplifying character, leadership, strong school spirit and sportsmanship.”
Six Seniors Capture $3,000 in Scholarships
This year, six graduating seniors were recognized by Ms. O’Bryan’s parents, Bill and Lisa, who presented the teenagers with $3,000 in awards along with handsome plaques at the 51st annual Blue Devil senior athletic awards dinner.
Connor Dougal and Alyssa Sorensen were both presented with $1,000 scholarships. Morgan Minicozzi, Meagan-Elise Malone, Erika Varady and Evelyn Hernandez-Veliz all garnered $250 awards.
Mr. Dougal plans to study history at the University of Connecticut. Ms. Sorensen will be pursuing studies in public health at Drexel University in anticipation of a career as a physician assistant.
A two-sport athlete for the Blue Devils, Mr. Dougal was on the fencing team in the winter season and he played tennis in the spring. A team captain in both sports, he was All League and All County in fencing. Passionate about all aspects of animal care, he has worked as an assistant at Harborside Veterinary Hospital. He participated in the Teens on the Water initiative to raise monies to repair and preserve the historic Huntington Lighthouse. The teenager even traveled to Europe with his classmates.
Ms. Sorensen is an exceptionally accomplished young woman, holding leadership positions with the student government and Huntington’s National Honor Society chapter as well as serving as president of Young Leaders, a local youth development organization. She earned varsity letters with the soccer, basketball and lacrosse teams and has won many school and community awards for academic excellence and extraordinary community service.
Ms. Minicozzi intends to study nursing at Adelphi University, where she has been recruited to play on the field hockey team. Ms. Malone is headed to the University of Delaware where plans to study for a career as a social studies teacher. Ms. Varady is going to study aerospace engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Ms. Hernandez-Veliz intends to study biology on a pre-med track at Hofstra University.