Annual Awards

Brendan Foley Award
"Team Spirit"
Est. 1997

This award is voted on by the coaching staff and is given to the girl or boy who exemplifies the feeling of “Team Spirit” throughout the swim team.

Since its creation, the Forest Hills Swim Team has prided itself on the energy and enthusiasm that it brings to the pool decks. Brendan Foley appreciated that fact, and his love of the team was clear. His energy inspired his fellow swimmers and brought a positive air to the team, regardless of their win-loss record. Brendan Foley passed away suddenly and tragically, far before his time. We honor his memory and love for the swim team with this award, which is given out by the coaches annually to a swimmer who shows unique passion and energy for the Stingrays.

 1997      Kelly Filiak            
 1998     Amanda Russo
 1999 Ian Campayno
 2000 Christiana Certo
 2001 Sheila Grab
 2002 Amy Nicklow
 2003 Kelsey Kennedy
 2004 Maggie Elias
 2005 Nicholas Ricci
 2006 Elizabeth Withers
 2007 Tupelo Donovan
 2008 Ariana Chernyshev
 2009 Jacob Kefalos
 2010 Jack Morgan
 2011 Greg Sorek
 2012 Connor Craig
 2013 Max Waring
 2014 Jordan Premozic   
 2015 Sophia Mamakos  
 2016 Mia Brush    
 2017     Jane Dering          
 2018 Cayla Connolly

History: Composed by 2013 Head Coach Nick Ricci


Although he was only 15 years old when he passed, Brendan Gerard Foley was a very active member of the Pittsburgh-Irish and Forest Hills communities. He attended Central Catholic High School where he was a student, athlete, alter boy, musician, step-dancer, and friend to many. His high school rowing coach, Glenn Harcsar, described his as a “once in a lifetime person”.


Brendan seemed to have a gift for getting to know people and making friends. He showed a genuine interest in everyone he met. His love of life and goofy sense of humor endeared him to many folks of all ages. His caring personality reflected the strong love among his family and friends. In a nutshell, Brendan was a great kid whose life made a difference in this world.


Tragically, at 15-and-a-half years of age, Brendan was taken from his family and friends on December 8, 1996. The exact details of his bicycle accident will never be known. Brendan was cycling home from the local video store with two Disney movies in his backpack. His parents had asked him to baby-sit his little sister Emma that night, and as usual he was thinking of how he could make the evening special for her. That afternoon a snow shower started as he was on his way home. Brendan made a deadly error in judgment that, coupled with a speeding truck, resulted in his being very harshly struck on Ardmore Boulevard at Braddock Road. Strangely, he had taken a route that he had promised his parents he would never use. No one will ever know what was on his mind as he attempted to cross Ardmore Boulevard.


Many hundreds of people poured out their concern to the family. During each of his four viewings at the funeral home people spent over two hours waiting in line in order to talk to family members and say a few prayers at his casket. One woman waited in line for an hour before she reached Brendan’s mother, Maggie Foley. She was accompanied by her daughter, a little girl who peeked at Maggie from behing her mother’s legs then retreated into shyness. The little girls mother then said “I don’t know you and I didn’t know your son, but my daughter knew him from the pool, and she said we had to come.”. Brendan had made a friend half his age and precisely how, nobody knows.


 The funeral mass at St. Anselm's Church in Swissvale had over 800 people in attendance and Brendan's crew teammates from Central Catholic acting as pallbearers. Over the years many people have showed an interest in helping to keep Brendan's memory alive. Wonderful cards, letters, poems and music have been written, generous donations made to scholarship funds, plaques installed, and awards established. Along with the “Irish Night Concert: Row for Brendan”, a memorial concert celebration, held annually that's been kept alive since 1997. 


Justine Clougherty Award
"Hardest Worker"
Est. 1991

This award is voted on by the coaching staff and is given to the swimmer whom they feel has been the “hardest working” swimmer for that season. This does not have to be the “best” swimmer.

Justine Clougherty was known by her peers as the most dedicated and driven swimmer on the team. Tragically, Justine's life was cut short by a car accident as she was returning to Forest Hills from college. This award is now given by the coaches to a boy and girl whose dedication and desire shine through, allowing not just that individual but the entire team to benefit from their drive.

 Liz Raisig
 1991 Jack O'Malley
 Rebekah Adair
 1992 Jack O'Malley
 Rebekah Adair
 1993 Jack O'Malley
 Ashley Smith
 1994 Jay Skapinac
 Kristie Michaels
 1995 Craig Eley
 Jessica Watson
 1996 Guy Russo
 Elizabeth Painter
 1997 Dave Jannes
 Carolyn Fedorchak
 1998 Patrick Neidig
 Sarah Herrle
 1999 Bradley Glasser
 Stephanie Fedorchak
 2000 Elliot Partridge
 Emily Sciulli
 2001 Nicholas Ricci
 Carolyn & Naomi Partridge
 2002 Jonathan Neidig
 Franny Marcelle
 2003 Kevin Ireland
 Lauren Galloway
 2004 Eric Sciulli
 Chelsea Stein
 2005 Graham Bodner
 Angela Ricci
 2006 Greg Sorek
 Maddy Marcelle
 2007 Peter Brucker
 Erin Huang
 2009 Kemin Linsuain
 Sara Kennedy
 2010 JD Galloway
 Ashley Azzarello
 2011 James Premozic
 Samantha Edinger
 2012 Owen Fink
 Amanda Schmidt
 2013 Chris & Steven Kefalos
 Allie Azzarello
 2014 Tyler Shanley
 Charlotte Brake-Hoffman    
 2015 Noah Marini
 Madison Brush
 2016 Jackson Galloway
 Madison Reed  2017Jordan Premozic
 Sophia Vrcic
 2018 Jake Benedum

History: Handwritten by Pat & Leo Clougherty (Parents of Justine) on July 25, 1998


Justine Clougherty was a swimmer on the Forest Hills Swim Team from its start until 1979 when she graduated from high school. She attended St. Maurice School, and Churchill High School, where she was a high honor student, a varsity swimmer, majorette captain, a choir member, and in the musicals. She graduated from Georgetown University in 1983. She died in December, 1983 from injuries in an automobile accident.  She is still really missed by her family and lots of her friends which is why one of them established this award in her memory.


Justine liked to win and she worked hard to be a winner. (She actually accidently swallowed the retainer from her braces during a race – which she won. Her orthodontist said he never knew of this to happen before.). She had a great sense of loyalty and of team spirit. At one time her 3 brothers and 2 sisters were members of the team with Justine. She supported and cheered her teammates. She always had a positive outlook.


We don’t know if this was a legacy from her name but she was amazingly fair all her life and ready to speak out about being just. One past coach said that she was his Jimminy Cricket.


Long after she died we met someone we didn’t even know she knew, and that girl told us that she’d never forget Justine because, although they weren’t friends, Justine always said “Hi” to her first if they passed in the school hall. Being voted by her team as the recipient of the Joseph Gabella Award was one of the great moments in her life. Having this award named for her continuing this tradition would make her happy in heaven.   


Joseph A. Gabella Award
"Role Model"
Est. 1969

This award is voted on by the swimmers and is given to the girl and boy whom they feel have done the most to assist the coaches, help the swimmers, and generally maintain a “role model” appearance.

Joseph A. Gabella is fondly remembered as the father of the Forest Hills Swim Team. He was instrumental in founding the team and, although he did not have children of his own swimming, he was the swim team's biggest fan. After his death, this award was created to commemorate his spirit and dedication. Today the Gabella Award stands as the oldest award bestowed upon a swimmer and it is the only award voted upon by the swimmers. All swimmers 15 & older are considered. The award is given to the boy and girl with the most votes after all swimmers have voted.

 Janice Gray
 1969 Kevin Coyne
 Debbie Mark
 1970 Dan Gray
 Debbie Mark
 1971 Vic Raczkowski
 Claire Watson
 1972 Pat Clougherty
 Bridget Coyne
 1973 Pat Clougherty
 Mary Ann Hoover
 1974 Pat Clougherty
 Phil Van Sickel
 Pierce Miller
 Susan Watson
 1975 Bill Clougherty
 Peggy Truschel
 1976 Steve Markowitz
 Alice Reding
 1977 Tim McAfee
 Justine Clougherty
 1978 Rob Newton
 Amy Gray
 1979 Mark Chilcott
 Mary Clougherty
 1980 Jeff Hoener
Tim Wojtaszek
 Mary Clougherty
 1981 Dennis Spahr
 Laura Van Sickel
 1982 Dennis Spahr
 Liz Fiano
 1983 Tim Williams
 Donna Andreas
 1984 Jeff Spaeder
 Diana Spahr
 1985 Jeff Spaeder
 Becky Snyder
 1986 Tim Spaeder
 Becky Benedum
 1987 Don Dull
 Missy Breitkreutz
 1988 Matt Patterson
 Ellen Patalski
 1989 Bill Cannon
 Beth Matthews
 1990 Ross Craig
 Linda Abaray
 1991 Thomas Digiorgi
 Amy Mackay
 1992 Jack O'Malley
 Jessica George
 1993 Mike Trifanoff
 Juli Tomaino
 1994 Kevin Stoner
 Jamie Glasser
 1995 Brian Digiorgi
 Kristie Michaels
 1996 Brian Babyak
 Katie Mooney
 1997 Chris Johnston
 Bethany Glasser
 1998 Craig Eley
 Katie O'Malley
 Craig Eley
 Bethany Glasser
 2000 Peter J. Demoise
 Katie O'Malley
 2001 Ian Campayno
 Megan Hyland
 Ian Campayno
 Mandi Deluca
 Brian Kurtz
 Mandi Deluca
 2004 Brian Kurtz
 Emily Sciulli
 Brad Glasser
 Kelsey Kennedy
 2006 Graham Bodner
 Lindsey Dearden
 Graham Bodner
 Brenna Longo
 Nick Ricci
 Anna Rubin
 Nick Ricci
 Shea Shovlin
 Eric Sciulli
 Shea Shovlin
 Eric Sciulli
 Kristin Arbutina
 Spencer Zhukas
 Katie Bunyan
 Peter Brucker
 Sara Kennedy
 Kai Oshimo
 Katie Fisher
 2015 Tyler Goldinger
 Anna Fisher
 2016 Owen Fink
 Molly Goss
 2017 Reggie Waring
 Molly Goss
 2018 Stefan Stratimirovic

History: Composed by 2013 Head Coach Nick Ricci


Joseph A. Gabella came to the United States as an immigrant from Italy. He originally settled down in the Cambria County area. It was there that he met his wife, Alice Munro Gabella. In 1926 Alice’s father had completed the construction of a house in Forest Hills at the address of 100 Batavia Road. One year later, in 1927, they moved in with Alice’s father and became long time residents of Forest Hills for over 40 years. It was here that Joe worked as a linesman for AT&T, putting up telephone lines where needed.


Joe Gabella played a very active role in the community and was considered the “neighborhood” grandfather by many, even though he and Alice did not have any children of there own. He was always concerned that there be a safe place for kids to play in the community thus, he used to mow the lawn down where the Forest Hills Park now lays. His concern for the safety of the children of the community derived from an experience as a child, when he experienced the death of a friend in a swimming accident. Thus, he was particularly interested in having a swimming pool built where children could swim safely.


When Joe knew that he was dying, he put in a personal request to his wife, Alice. He requested that she give a donation particularly to the swim organization, which was just beginning. Sadly he passed away in October of 1968 at the age of 70, BEFORE the pool was ever completed.


After his death the neighborhood contributed to a flower fund. It grew to a sizable amount since Joe was very well liked. It was determined that a more appropriate memorial to Joe would be to do something for the Forest Hills Swim Team. Therefore, those that wanted to honor Joe consulted Bill Griffith, the swim team’s first head coach. He came up with the idea for the “Gabella” trophy, which was then selected, purchased and engraved. The award began the year after Joe Gabella passed away – in 1969. 


It should be noted that Alice Gabella was also a staunch supporter of the programs for children in the Forest Hills community. Alice passed away some years later and in her will she bequeathed a sum of money to the Forest Hills Swim Team and to the recreation board, to be used for the pool facilities.


Thus, this award is voted on by the swimmers and is given to the girl and boy whom they feel have done the most to assist the coaches, help the swimmers, and generally maintain a “role model” appearance.