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Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists Awards
SCC “Comeback Player of the Year” Scholarships

Friday, May 08, 2015

Three student athletes - Jack Cunningham (Cheshire), Kelly Nizolek (Daniel Hand) and Gabrielle Lamberti (East Haven) - are the recipients of the 2015 SCC “Comeback Player of the Year” awards. All three students suffered severe injuries, 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 student-athletes who participated in an interscholastic sport during the 2014-2015 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 for their high school teams. All three will receive a financial scholarship to be used for their college education.

"This is our fifth year in awarding student-athletes from the SCC with scholarships,” explained Glenn Elia, Chief Executive Officer of COS. “Our goal has been to acknowledge student-athletes who 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 these scholarships,” explained SCC Commissioner Al Carbone. “Our league has many outstanding student-athletes who excel in the classroom and playing fields, while showing perseverance and selflessness.”

Jack Cunningham - Cheshire HS (Lacrosse and Football)

Jack sustained a torn ACL during the 2014 lacrosse season and was slated to miss the entire football season in the fall for which he was named captain. Through his hard work and determination, Jack was able to return and play well ahead of schedule, and was an impact performer - even scoring two touchdowns in his first game back.

Cheshire football coach Don Drust said, “Jack is a natural leader and a driven individual. He has a great outlook on life and understands if you work hard, good things will happen.”

A standout student, Jack will attend Trinity College and will study economics and play football for the Bantams.

Kelly Nizolek, Daniel Hand - Field Hockey/Lacrosse

Kelly suffered a severe knee injury during the spring of 2013 which forced her to miss the 2013 field hockey and most of the 2014 lacrosse seasons. Her recovery was long and strenuous, but she persevered and returned to the varsity field hockey squad in 2014, in which she helped the Tigers capture the SCC title and the Class M state championship - Daniel Hand’s first-ever state title.

Daniel Hand field hockey coach Sue Leckey said, “Kelly was determined to be bigger than the frustration by keeping her focus and determination to be an impact player for her team. She is a solid example of “nothing can take the place of persistence.”

Kelly will attend The Hotchkiss School in the fall for a post-graduate year of study and athletic competition.

Gabrielle Lamberti, East Haven - Basketball

Gabby suffered a severe knee injury in late 2013 which caused her miss the 2013-14 basketball season. She worked tirelessly to return to the squad, and even attended summer and fall pre-season games even though she couldn’t compete. Her dedication to her rehabilitation allowed her to return to practice on the first day of the 2014-15 season. Her efforts helped her become a key member of the team, which qualified for both the SCC and state tournaments.

East Haven girls basketball coach Anthony Russell said, “Gabby’s diligence and perseverance in both the classroom and on the court is an inspiration to her teammates and classmates.

A high honors student, Gabby has big plans for her senior year and beyond with several top colleges (to major in nursing) in her sights.

About The Southern Connecticut Conference

The 2014-15 academic year marks the 21st year of existence for the Southern Connecticut Conference. The SCC is comprised of 23 high schools with more than 23,000 students representing 16 communities. Recognized as one of the best athletic conferences in the state, the SCC also has a great tradition of offering first-rate non-athletic programs and events that enrich the overall high school experience of our young people to help them become responsible students, athletes and citizens. For more information on the SCC, visit the Southern Connecticut Conference website.

About Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists, PC

Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists, PC offers all orthopaedic subspecialties including sports medicine, treatment for problems of the upper extremities and lower extremities, joint replacement surgery, pediatric orthopaedics, and surgical and non-surgical podiatry. COS is the largest privately held orthopaedic group in Connecticut and has been providing quality, individualized care to patients for over 50 years. COS has 17 locations including in-house physical therapy, three COSNOW orthopaedic walk-in centers, two MRI centers providing in-house diagnostic testing and its own surgical center.

For more information, please contact Ron Thompson at or call 203.407.3580

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