Shayna Flannery receives 2011 Mary Kate Bauer Scholarship award

October 28, 2011

Cincinnati.com - 
Written by: Chuck Gibson

It wasn’t a home run, great play or team championship that put her first on the agenda at the Loveland City Council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 25. She was there to accept the Mary Kate Bauer/Loveland Softball Association Scholarship award.

“The award is a way to give something back to the girls and the community,” said Ryan Jackson, LSA president. “The winner may not be the best player. She’s someone who shows good sportsmanship and is a good sport to the rest of the players and coaches.”

The LSA created the $500 scholarship award in 2006 as a way to “support an academically talented student athlete from the Loveland community” in pursuit of higher education.

“We had a girl in the organization die of cancer…Mary Kate Bauer,” recalled Phil Altieri, LSA vice president. “Mary Kate had passed. That fall I saw Mary Kate’s parents and asked if they would allow us to name the scholarship in her honor. They said yes.”

To be eligible to apply for the scholarship award, the applicant must have played for the LSA, be a high school student living in the Loveland School District, and maintain a grade point average of 2.75 or higher. The applicant must also write an essay about what it has meant to play a team sport as a member of the LSA.

Shayna Flannery wrote about how much she has enjoyed the seven years playing softball. She wrote about learning patience, perseverance and making “great friends”. Flannery even wrote about how softball brought her closer to church. Thinking team instead of self, respecting coaches and umpires, doing her best and knowing someone is there to back her up if she makes a mistake are all part of the experience she shared.

“I know she’s a cancer survivor,” Jackson said. “But she didn’t write that in her essay.”

Phil Altieri said: “She’s an awesome kid! What stands out in her essay is her positive attitude.”

Shayna credited her coaches for helping to develop a positive attitude. Since second grade, she’s played for three teams with four coaches. First she played for Sandy and Doug Portmann, then Rick Mellett, and now Bruce Robertson.

“All the coaches I had have been fun,” she said. “No matter what happened, even if we weren’t doing so well, my coaches were very encouraging and kept a positive attitude. That helped us not get down and cheer on our teammates.”

In a brief ceremony, following remarks by Phil Altieri in front of city council, Ryan Jackson presented the award to Shayna while her parents, Sam and Ellen Flannery, (CancerFree Kids founders) looked on.

“We’re proud of her for applying for it in the first place,” Ellen Flannery said. “We’re particularly proud of the message she included. Things like working as a team and encouraging each other. It’s not all about winning. It’s been a really great experience for her and a great sport.”

Sam Flannery echoed those sentiments and added: “Every one of the games was so much fun. The players had a good time and the coaches were very positive with them. It has given Shayna a lot of self confidence.”

Coach Rick Mellett was Shayna’s coach longer than any of the others. It meant a lot to him to see her awarded the scholarship.

“I was so excited when I learned Shayna won the scholarship,” Coach Mellett said. “She’s been a joy to coach, great girl, and great person in the community. She’s a lot of fun to be around, always smiling, always cheerful, and always positive. She motivates people.”

In her essay, Flannery admitted: “I play softball for those great moments when I get a hit, just keep running…slide into the base and hear the ump say “Safe!” She wrote that’s what will keep her playing as long as she can. It is that, and so much more, which put her first on the Loveland City Council agenda on Tuesday, October 25, 2011.

“Whatever is best for the team,” said Flannery. “If it’s you out there playing or if it’s you on the bench, whatever makes the team better.”

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