Penn AC Names 2018 Recipient of Michael Mirabella Scholarship

by: Paul Coomes

Seth Lopez with Cathy Moeller

Seth Lopez with Cathy Moeller

Penn AC has named Seth Lopez as its 2018 recipient of the Michael Mirabella Scholarship.  Seth, a sophomore at Science Leadership Academy at Beeber and Philadelphia City Rowing (PCR), receives a full scholarship to the Penn AC Gold Junior summer camp, which runs from June 12 until July 13.

“I’m excited to get faster and have better technique, but that’s not the only thing that comes along with this opportunity, said Lopez. “The seniors at PCR were real leaders and inspired me to be better than I am. Since they are departing from the program I want to be able to go back to PCR and be the new leader that everyone can look up to.”

Seth with Michael Mirabella's family, his mother and aunt,   Mike Wherley and Erika Jorgensen from Penn AC.

Seth pictured with his mother, Amber Trowel, aunt, Ramona Hall, Mike Mirabella’s mother, father and sister and Mike Wherley and Erika Jorgensen from Penn AC

PCR Executive Director Terry Dougherty said, “Seth Lopez is a hard-working young man who aspires to row in college, and he is so excited for the opportunity to go to Penn AC and improve his stroke. Seth has improved so much this year due to his dedication.  He volunteered last summer for all of the PCR Learn-to-Row camps, as it allowed him to get more time on the river.”

Seth Lopez in action (middle)

Seth Lopez in action (middle)

In 2016, Penn AC created the scholarship in honor of Michael John Mirabella, a promising young rower that died of cancer in December 2014 at the age of 23. The scholarship is offered each year to one athlete from Philadelphia City Rowing (PCR).

“If you can dream it, you can do it!” That was one of Michael Mirabella’s favorite rowing quotes, according to his mother, Cathy Moeller.

“We are happy to recognize Seth Lopez for earning the scholarship this year and to recognize Michael Mirabella every year so that more young rowers will hear Michael’s story and so that he will continue to be remembered for the great person he was,” said Penn AC President Mike Wherley.

Michael Mirabella

Michael Mirabella

Mirabella was a very successful rower at Temple University (’14) and Absegami High School (’09) before he came to Penn AC with the dream to make the U.S. National Team.  He was training with Penn AC’s High Performance Group and was also one of the first to step up and volunteer to be a mentor for athletes at PCR when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the fall of 2013.

“He had an inner competitive drive that led to his successes on the water, but he was also the type of person you wanted to get to know better – very respectful and kind to others,” said Wherley.  “He was a great role model to have around the boathouse and was the type of rower and person we would like to see all junior rowers become.”

Mirabella gave much of his time to charitable organizations.  In addition to being a mentor for PCR, he joined two fellow Temple students to create Cycle4Awareness to raise money and awareness for children with special needs.  In 2012, Mirabella cycled from Philadelphia to Key West, Florida to raise money for children with autism.  He also cycled from Vancouver, British Columbia, to San Diego to raise money for Athletes Helping Athletes Inc.

Previous scholarship recipients from PCR:

2017    Christina LaBella (Jr. at PCR)

2016    Will Stocovaz (Sr., will attend Princeton in the fall)

2015    Margarita Amihava (Soph. at Drexel, rowed in V8 at Dad Vails)

2014    Helen “Holli” Sdao (Soph. at West Chester University)

2014    Miranda Gibson (attends Temple)

2013    James Garcia (attends Jefferson University)

2013    Lester Johnson (graduated from Univ. of Pittsburgh)

About Penn AC:  Established in 1871, Penn Athletic Club Rowing Association has a long history of supporting rowing at all levels, from novices and junior rowers to Olympians.  Its Penn AC Gold program for high school rowers has been very successful over the past decade, winning several titles at US Rowing Club Nationals for both men and women.

About Philadelphia City Rowing:  Philadelphia City Rowing seeks to empower local public school students through the sport of rowing. It was established in 2010 and its objectives are to: establish a Public School Rowing Team that is competitive locally, regionally and nationally, and creates the opportunity for participants to pursue rowing at the collegiate level and beyond; use competitive rowing as a vehicle to improve the health, well-being, self-confidence and academic success of Philadelphia’s public school students; involve participants in one of Philadelphia’s greatest sporting traditions.

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