Toni Torchia – Waldie/Shaeffer finalist
Courage, compassion compel SLS’s Toni Torchia
The Fourth of July ranks as Toni Torchia’s favorite holiday.
While the Seton-La Salle senior is unsure why, her lacrosse coach understands because he sees patriotism in Torchia’s every action. According to Brian Klisavage, Torchia is fiercely loyal and courageous.
While she and her twin sister, Tia, have supported their mother as she battles cancer, Torchia has maintained excellence in the classroom and achieved success in sports. Academically, she maintains a 3.89 GPA. Athletically, she is a four-year letterwinner in lacrosse and volleyball. She earned All-WPIAL first-team honors in volleyball for two seasons. Torchia served up 49 aces and 157 kills. She owned a 94 serve percentage and an 88.7 spike rate. The team’s top defensive player, she scored 36 goals as a junior.
“While she has been one of the most consistent outside hitters in the WPIAL over the past three years and while she is known as an absolute shut-down defender since her sophomore year,” Klisavage said, “Toni’s character, leadership and courage are her finest attributes.”
Those qualities were best displayed on the field last season and this year as Torchia has donned the uniform of her twin sister. In 2013, Tia Torchia suffered a concussion. This spring, she tore her ACL. In the absence of her sister, Torchia has not only maintained her top-notch play but has carried the team as best she could. “Toni has been a vocal leader in building a cohesive unit of girls working as one,” Klisavage said. “She is dedicated and determined to succeed.”
Those qualities will serve Torchia well next fall when she matriculates to La Roche College. Torchia will play volleyball for the Red Hawks. She also has registered to join the United States Air Force Reserve.
While she has little recollection of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and has no personal experience with anyone in the military, Torchia says that when her mother took ill, that triggered her desire to give back to society. She plans to become a nurse.
“I want to give back and take care of people,” she said. “A lot of caregivers and people have helped my mom and my family. That got me started thinking about giving back to people.”
While the Air Force is giving Torchia an opportunity to pursue her dream, it is getting plenty in return, says Klisavage.
“The Reserves will be getting a person that can be counted on to defend her comrades until the end and when necessary to carry her team on her shoulders,” he said. “She’s a great leader, courageous, compassionate and she has great character.”
Tochia claims to be no hero. The heroes, she says, were the first-responders on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as Navy graduates Ken Waldie and Kevin Shaeffer. A Bethel Park graduate, Waldie was aboard the first place to strike the World Trade Center in New York City. A Peters Township product, Shaeffer, though severely injured, survived the attack on the Pentagon.
“The first people who were there were the first-responders. That’s what they do. They are so brave,” Torchia said. “People like them put everyone in front of themselves.
“I try to be brave and have courage. I strive to be like that,” added Torchia, who is one of five finalists for the Waldie/Shaeffer Scholarship Award established by the Almanac in 2002. “It’s an honor to be a part of this award and be counted among those to be recognized.”
Others have recognized the exemplary qualities Torchia possesses. She was selected to participate in the Carlow College Women In Sports program and attend the Pacific Institute Leadership seminar. Additionally, Torchia volunteers at St. Bernard’s and with ALIVE Living Ministries and its homeless awareness program.