The SPotlight is a weekly introduction to five Stadium Performance athletes. Their friendship, family, and humility, makes these SP athletes role models to many others that will come after them. As The New Culture, we aspire to promote their successes and character alike in the absence of negativity, defamation, or social exclusion. This is their story.
Antoinette “Toni” Abate, Johns Hopkins University
High School: Three-year soccer team member at Noble and Greenough. – Helped lead team to 17-1-0 record as well as Class A NEPSAC and ISL championships during senior season – Played club soccer for NEFC Elite.
Personal: Daughter of Anna and Anthony Abate from Wellesley, MA.- Played in Nine games as a freshman at Hopkins. Majoring in chemical and biomolecular engineering.
SP Compliments: A beautiful mind, spirit, and intellect is before us. Toni brings an aura to SP that far outshines any negativity that existed before her arrival. I don’t think it’s an SP thing – I think it’s a Toni thing. From day one, she has smiled through adversity, frustration, and success. She seems to truly enjoy all that life has to offer. Toni has two speeds; full speed and finished. She defines “leaving it all out there.” I haven’t been to class with her, but I imagine those two speeds exist in the classroom as well. Although athletics are a small portion of a much larger picture, Toni gives us 100% for the 20% of life that SP represents. Shes a perfect example of great athletes making greater coaches. I work harder when Toni is here. Frankly, she makes me feel bad if I’m not working as hard as she is. Toni is the strongest squatting female we have at Stadium Performance. It’s remarkable really. She is the type of person we should all be blessed to have in our lives – happy, hard working, respectful, and determined. If Toni does something, she’s doing it to win, not to say she tried. Toni, you will never know how far you can go until you get there. We’re all excited to watch your journey unfold.
Toni is grateful for witnessing her parents’ exemplary work ethic academically, athletically, and professionally. “They set the ultimate example and that has pushed me to work equally as hard. Life is so much tougher now and although they have given me the tools, more importantly they have given be the vision. I am so grateful.”
Toni has advice for others in her shoes: “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on what you can control; attitude, effort, and dedication. The rest will fall into place.” These are lessons she wishes she embraced early on but now without hesitation, voices them as her creed. It’s not all small stuff, but it’s certainly less stuff.
Stephanie Lund, The College of Holy Cross
High School: Played four seasons of varsity soccer at Walpole High School. – Captained team as a senior. Named a second team Division I Eastern Massachusetts All-Star and Bay State. Conference All-Star during senior season. Played club soccer for NEFC Elite U18 – Team and won Massachusetts State Cup in 2014 and Region I Premier League Championship in 2013.
Personal: As a freshman at HC, she played in all 17 games with 11 starts at midfield/forward. She is the daughter of Richard and Jeanne Lund. – Has three sisters (Sarah, Katherine and Emily). – Has not declared a major at Holy Cross.
SP Compliments: When I met Steph two years ago, little did I know I had met a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Soft spoken and polite, this young lady has a relentless work ethic. Five days a week through her Senior season of High School, Steph brought her determination stuffed away in her back pocket to SP and destroyed any programming we put before her. She looked me in the eye and said, “I want to do whatever it takes.” She did, and she still is. Steph has developed into one of our strongest female athletes. She can single leg squat, front squat, back squat, and plate drag with the boys. Her durability is impeccable. Her maturity is not only defined by her early collegiate success, but also by her willingness to address weaknesses that continue to exist. She is classy but dangerous. Respect, loyalty, family, kindness, and honesty are just a few attributes I could use to define Steph, but even more so – authenticity. What you see is what you get. No games, no charades, and no impersonations. Quality in large quantities from this young lady. We are proud to be on her side.
Steph is grateful that her parents set aside their personal wants and needs with her best interest in mind. Raising four children – four girls none-the-less is a great feat, but allowing one of them to pursue all her goals, no matter what, yields infinite gratitude towards her parents. She will feel infinitely grateful for the opportunities they have created for her.
Steph has advice for others in her shoes: Don’t settle for just anything. You deserve more. If you want something, do everything in your power to achieve it. Think outside the box and utilize all your resources. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We are all in this together to make this world go around. Do your part to the best of your ability and you will achieve greatness.
Curt Bletzer Jr, Boston College
High School: Three-sport athlete (Football, Hockey, Lacrosse) at Catholic Memorial in West Roxbury, MA. Received offers to play Division 1 football from Holy Cross, Harvard, Maine, and Boston College.
Personal: Son of Curt and Kim Bletzer – Has an older sister Caleigh and an older brother, Kevin. – Majoring in Business
SP Compliments: Curt epitomizes respect. Starting with eye contact and a desire to improve each day, Curt is guaranteed to give us every bit of energy in his soul. He literally sweats his improvements through his shirt. He bleeds team loyalty and self respect. Infused with strong character, Curt outshines athletes around him. His work ethic is impossible to miss. He puts in extra speed work, extra footwork, and extra mobility work. He doesn’t take skill, physique, or strength for granted. He doesn’t raise a brow at compliments and remains humble through success. I can tell you 75% of what there is to know about a man form his handshake. With Curt, I knew everything from day one. Give most men a wall, and they’ll go over it. Give one to Curt, and he’ll go through it. Eagle nation has a new wedge breaker on their side.
Curt is grateful for the support his parents have given him in sport and life. They never miss a game – typically requiring a long list of appointments to be rescheduled or skipped. Through adversity they are always there to lean on with steadfast support. He attributes the majority of life’s lessons to the tree from which he has fallen with particular time spent on the branches of hard work and respect.
Curt has advice for others in his shoes: Never doubt yourself. Hard work will earn you respect. Respect will ensure others work hard around you. With effort and reciprocating respect, your goals can be achieved. Without either, you don’t stand a chance.
Lane Cronin, Fordham University
High School: Four-year varsity soccer player at Weston High School in Weston, Massachusetts, playing at both a forward and midfielder. – Two-year captain. – All-State and Eastern Massachusetts All-Star selection as a senior, while being a four-time Duel County League All-Star. – Helped her team win the 2014 Small Championship of the DCL as well as the 2012 State Championship. – Played club soccer for the U18 NEFC Elite, which won the 2014 Massachusetts State Championship after making the finals in 2012 and 2013, as well as the 2013 Region 1 Premier League Championship. – Four-year member of the honor roll. – Elected by the student body as the Co-President of the student council for the 2014-15 academic year.
College career: One of nine Rams to appear in all 22 games, and just one of two freshmen to do so. – Made one start, registering 12 shots. – Netted a goal and an assist in her first campaign. – Notched an assist in Fordham’s win over LIU Brooklyn (9/13). – Scored her first collegiate goal in a shutout win at Richmond (10/25). – Has not declared a major.
SP Compliments: Generally speaking, Lane is one of the most talented athletes I have ever worked with. She’s also refreshingly committed. I can plan on seeing Lane four days a week – rain, sleet, wind, or snow. She understands that collegiate sports demand attention – attention to your body, your mind, and your progress. When training sessions get tough, she matches the intensity with her impressive mental toughness. I have never seen her fail a single rep. I have also never seen her cut a single rep. Her friends and teammates absolutely adore her. Lane’s smile is contagious and her quips are equally entertaining. She asks great questions but more importantly, listens to answers. Her learning curve is almost linear which makes conversations with her a seamless interaction. In a world of unknowns she defines certainty in so many ways. Her presence is surpassed by few, admired by many, and respected by all – especially us.
Lane is grateful that her parents encouraged her to work as hard as possible at all times. There are no off days if you want a chance at achieving your scholastic and athletic goals. Whether in agreement or silent opposition, her parents have stood by her side in every decision she has made. She is so blessed to have them.
Lane offers advice to others in her shoes: Never give up on your personal goals. They may or may not include sports but regardless, focus on what is within your own control. Do not waste energy worrying about the aspects of life you have no control over. The sure certainty is that you have the ability to outwork everyone else. This is a gift that can never be taken away.
Bryan Nelson, University of Connecticut
High School: Former St. Johns High School blue liner that earned a number of accolades including a spot on the T&G Super Team, the High School Hobey Baker Character Award, playing in the annual Shriners’ Hockey All-Star Game, and a spot on Team Massachusetts, which traveled to a tournament in Minnesota to play against other state all-star teams.
Junior Hockey: Following his graduation in 2014, Bryan played for the Walpole Express of the Eastern Hockey League for a season before playing for the West Kelowna Warriors of the BCHL and the Connecticut Junior Rangers of the USPHL Premier League. Bryan received Division 1 offers from Harvard and UCONN.
SP Compliments: Bryan personifies commitment and perseverance with no disregard for the work ethic that is required of him. Driving 60 minutes to Stadium Performance from Upton, MA three days a week is asking too much for many athletes, but not for this future Hockey East defenseman. He’s realistic and understands his strengths as well as his weaknesses. Bryan never hesitates to ask for extra help in the weight room or nutritional guidance on the side. He arrives early to prepare his body for training sessions and stays late to ensure appropriate recovery. He has opposed the doubts of many collegiate coaches and embraced the opportunities from those who offered them. Bryan is a man of character, a son of selfless parenting, and a product of diverse mentoring. Above all, he is kind, a great friend, and a pleasant representation of Stadium Performance. He will do well in sport and then life. And we will remain SProud.
Bryan is grateful for the sacrifices his parents made during his youth development. They set their personal needs aside and sacrificed time, sleep, and finances for the betterment of him. He understands that and eagerly fights to do the same for them. Early 4am wake-up calls and endless weekend travel were no obstacle for his parents but the road to repay them has many. Bryan is inspired by the path his parents paved on his behalf and he lives to uphold their commitment in each day of his life.
Bryan offers advice to others in his shoes: Never take a single day for granted. Every day you wake up is a blessing and an opportunity that you absolutely have to take advantage of. Success comes from a desire within. If you truly want something bad enough, you will have to work for it with every last grit of strength. Then, you will have it. If you want something, make it yours.
*No filters were used in the above pictures. Imperfection is in the eye of the beholder.
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