Nicole Leslie and Luke Eidle with members of Courtney O'Bryan's family at the scholarship presentation

Courtney O’Bryan Memorial Scholarships Awarded

Nicole Leslie and Luke Eidle with members of Courtney O'Bryan's family at the scholarship presentation

August 17, 2018

Courtney O’Bryan was a spectacular young woman; a bright, energetic, loyal and loving friend to so many. The 2011 Huntington High School graduate will always be remembered at her alma mater, where her infectious smile and happy disposition made an indelible mark on everyone she crossed paths with.

A starter on the Huntington varsity girls’ soccer and basketball teams, Ms. O’Bryan displayed an aggressive style of play. Committed to her studies, she was admired by her teachers. Her obvious intellect, magnetic personality and easygoing nature combined with a frequently hilarious sense of humor to win over classmates, coaches and faculty members 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 headed off 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 $157 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.”

Eidle and Leslie capture O’Bryan scholarships

This year, graduating seniors Luke Eidle and Nicole Leslie were recognized by Ms. O’Bryan’s parents, Bill and Lisa, who presented each of the scholar-athletes with $1,000 awards and handsome plaques at the 50th annual Blue Devil senior athletic awards dinner.

Captain of the Huntington football and baseball teams a, Mr. Eidle has also attained the rank of Eagle Scout. The head electrical technician for last year’s robotics team that qualified for the FIRST World Championships, the teenager’s record throughout high school speaks for itself.

Mr. Eidle plans to study aerospace engineering at Rutgers University. He is highly regarded by Huntington’s faculty as well as by his classmates, teammates and coaches. A leader and role model, he’s an All-American kind of guy, in every sense of the phrase.

Ms. Leslie is a wonderful young woman, full of joy and kindness for others. Her smile and laugh can light up a room. She is headed to SUNY Brockport where she was recruited to play on the women’s basketball team.

Captain of the Blue Devil girls’ basketball team, Ms. Leslie proved to be a formidable competitor with a rugged style of play, especially under the boards. The teenager also appeared on the softball field for Huntington. She has a wide circle of friends, who all appreciate her gentle nature and supportive presence in their lives. She plans to use her time at Brockport to determine her interests and ultimate career path.

The hearts of her family, friends and coaches have never completely healed after suffering the loss of Ms. O’Bryan. But, her memory lives on through the scholarship that bears her name.

Courtney O’Bryan Memorial Scholarship Recipients

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 bears down. (Photo by Mike Connell.)
Courtney O'Bryan bears down. (Photo by Mike Connell.)
Courtney O'Bryan (center) is flanked by Sarah Ehrman (left) and Cristina Badalamenti at Huntington's 2010 pep rally.
Courtney O'Bryan (center) is flanked by Sarah Ehrman (left) and Cristina Badalamenti at Huntington's 2010 pep rally.
Courtney O'Bryan (right) goes up for the ball for the Blue Devils. (Photo by Mike Connell.)
Courtney O'Bryan (right) goes up for the ball for the Blue Devils. (Photo by Mike Connell.)
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