Alexa Amorison (left) and Joseph Nicotra  captured the Courtney O'Bryan Memorial Scholarships.  (Darin Reed photos.)

Amorison & Nicotra Capture Courtney O’Bryan Scholarships

Alexa Amorison (left) and Joseph Nicotra captured the Courtney O'Bryan Memorial Scholarships. (Darin Reed photos.)

July 14, 2021

Courtney O’Bryan was a delightful young woman. Smart, energetic, loyal and a kind and considerate friend to so many, she was loved by everyone that knew her. The 2011 Huntington High School graduate will never be forgotten at her alma mater, where her magnetic smile and happy disposition made a permanent impression.

A starter on the Blue Devil varsity girls’ soccer and basketball teams, Ms. O’Bryan displayed an all-out style of play. Devoted to her studies, she was admired and respected by the high school’s faculty. Her impressive intellect, endearing personality and easygoing nature along with an often hilarious sense of humor all came together to win over classmates, coaches and teachers in record time.

 Courtney O'Bryan was a member of Huntington High School's Class of 2011.
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 moved on to Penn State University, where she dived into 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 $190 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 paying a visit to 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 knockout punch. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Ms. O’Bryan’s family created a scholarship to perpetuate her memory and promote the qualities she so splendidly displayed.

The Courtney O’Bryan Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to senior male and female athletes who are college bound and who participated in more than one team sport “exemplifying character, leadership, strong school spirit and sportsmanship.”

Two Seniors Capture $2,000 in Scholarships

This year, graduating seniors Alexa Amorison and Joseph Nicotra were recognized by Ms. O’Bryan’s family, which presented each of the teenagers with $1,000 awards along with attractive plaques.

Both of the teenagers are also Distinguished Seniors after compiling academic grade averages in excess of 90 during the first seven semesters of high school.

Ms. Amorison said she attributes her success to “hard work, determination and getting a head start on all assignments.” She played on Huntington’s varsity soccer, basketball and lacrosse teams, was inducted into six different academic honor societies, volunteered more than 50 hours at Huntington Hospital and garnered numerous awards across several different subject areas.

The teenager said she understands how important it is to take a mental break so she doesn’t get burned out. “Being in class with my friends has made learning fun and was one aspect of high school that I enjoyed the most,” Ms. Amorison said.

She has been recruited to play lacrosse at Molloy College in Rockville Centre where she will also study for a career in nursing.

An Advanced Placement Scholar with Honor, Mr. Nicotra was a mainstay on the Blue Devil varsity football and wrestling teams. He moved to Huntington from Wantagh as a fourth grader. He attended Chaminade as a freshman and sophomore before deciding to return to Huntington for his junior and senior years. His teachers, coaches and teammates are sure glad that he did.

Active with Huntington’s Interact Club, Natural Helpers, National Honor Society and the yearbook club, Mr. Nicotra was one of the top wrestlers in the state as a sophomore, junior and senior. He excelled academically, including in Huntington’s Virtual Enterprise business class.

Mr. Nicotra plans to study marketing at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania.

Courtney O’Bryan Memorial Scholarship Recipients

2021: Alexa Amorison, Joseph Nicotra
2020: Alexandra Gerbavsits, Ulixis Colato, William Burton, Abigail Maichin
2019: Connor Dougal, Alyssa Sorensen, Morgan Minicozzi, Meagan-Elise Malone, Erika Varady, Evelyn Hernandez-Veliz
2018: Luke Eidle, Nicole Leslie
2017: Tara Wilson, Matthew Mattiace
2016: Kelly Palladino, Ethan Dwyer
2015: Caitlin Knowles, Justin Weigold
2014: Joelle Ceide, Alexander Castillo
2013: Maggie Askerberg, Connor Birchard
2012: Laurelle Byrne-Cody, John Deren McCarthy

Courtney O'Bryan drives for the basket. (Photo by Mike Connell.)
Courtney O'Bryan drives for the basket. (Photo by Mike Connell.)
Teammates Emma Hayes-Hurley and Courtney O'Bryan on graduation day in June 2011.
Teammates Emma Hayes-Hurley and Courtney O'Bryan on graduation day in June 2011.