Two senior student athletes – Eric Laugeni, from Amity High School and Daniel Hand’s Stefani Taschner are the recipients of the 2014 “Comeback Player of the Year” scholarship award. Both students overcame severe injuries during their high school careers, yet were able to overcome them to become outstanding role models in their respective schools.
A corporate sponsor of the Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC), Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists P.C. (COS) has offered a Comeback Player of the Year Scholarship for one male and one female athlete who participated in an interscholastic sport during the 2013-2014 academic year, and showed great leadership both on and off the field after their severe injury.
Coaches and school’s athletic directors nominated these student-athletes after they each suffered an unfortunate injury that prohibited them from play during their high school careers. Stefani and Eric each received a $1,000 scholarship to be used for their college education.
“This is our fourth year in awarding student-athletes from the SCC with scholarships,” explained Glenn Elia, Chief Executive Officer of COS. “Our goal has been to acknowledge two athletes that have overcome the challenges of an injury and, through hard work and determination, have become positive role models for their fellow teammates.”
“Many thanks to the doctors and staff at Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists for their support of the SCC and this scholarship,” explained SCC Commissioner Al Carbone. “Our league has many outstanding student-athletes who excel in the classroom and on the playing fields, and we are delighted that two exceptional young people in can be recognized for their admirable stories of perseverance.”
Eric Laugeni, Amity Regional – football
In the summer of 2008, Eric Laugeni was involved in a freak accident involving a fork lift that severed his left leg and his right leg was broken and dislocated. After numerous hours of surgery, doctors saved his leg, but cast a dubious outlook for him in terms of running. More surgeries and rehabilitation occurred, and Eric began to walk by himself and eventually returned to athletics, but only through a sheer determination and unending work ethic.
He played varsity football for the Spartans, and he served as the team’s co-captain this past fall.
Amity head football coach Bert Mozealous said, “Eric has worked so hard to overcome so much. That’s why I believe he was voted captain because his teammates were so impressed with his work ethic and his sacrifice.”
A standout student in the classroom and a member of the National Honor Society, Eric plans to attend the Lehigh University in the fall.
Stefani Taschner, Daniel Hand – gymnastics
Stefani recently completed a fabulous senior season for the Tigers’ SCC and Class M state champion gymnastics team. Selected the 2014 SCC Gymnast of the Year, Stefani also earned All-SCC, All-State, All-New England and Elite All-American honors, all after undergoing ankle surgery last spring.
Her surgery was required after she suffered a series of severe ankle sprains.
Stefani’s work ethic following her surgery was remarkable; her positive attitude and competitiveness allowed her to not miss a beat, returning to a high level of performance as indicated by the slew of accolades she received following the season.
Daniel Hand gymnastics head coach Kelly Smith said, “Stefani’s ability to overcome her surgery was imperative to her individual success and the success of the team. Her leadership, her performances, and her camaraderie with her teammates created a positive atmosphere in our
gym. She inspired her coaches and teammates with her positive attitude, hard work and focus.”
Stefani will attend Towson University and is interested in studying criminal justice.