Varsity Travel Players of the Week

Sammi Valaitis

Athletes from Chagrin Falls, Cuyahoga Heights, Geneva, Independence, Kirtland and North have been named Varsity Travel Players of the Week.

Each athlete was nominated by his or her coach and selected based on their performances during the week ending Sunday, Jan. 14.


Bella DalessandroName: Bella Dalessandro
School: Chagrin Falls
Grade: 10
Stats: Scored 30 points with eight rebounds and seven steals in two wins and held one team’s leading scorer scoreless from the floor and forced six turnovers in the other game
Coach’s Quote: “Bella has been working hard to become a multifaceted threat on offense,” said Chagrin Falls coach Brittany Anderson. “She is not just a good shooter, but can attack and finish at the rim and she is everywhere on defense. She is a selfless player who hustles to get everything from steals to traps to rebounds. Her work ethic on defense has paid off with offense in transition.”
Notable: A two-year letter winner in soccer, Dalessandro also earned all-conference and all-district honors in basketball as a freshman.
Emma LipkowskiName: Emma Lipkowski
School: Cuyahoga Heights
Grade: 12
Stats: Recorded a school-record 115th 3-pointer in a win over rival Independence on Saturday
Coach’s Quote: “Emma’s 3-point shooting ability opens the floor up for her teammates to find driving lanes,” said Cuyahoga Heights coach Al Martin. “Emma competes very hard at both ends of the floor and has a very high basketball IQ. She has been a key player in our success over the past three seasons.”
Notable: Lipkowski converted 62 3-point tries as a junior to set the school single season record.
Hailey PeoplesName: Hailey Peoples
School: Geneva
Grade: 12
Stats: Scored 33 points, with 16 rebounds, nine steals and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line in two wins
Coach’s Quote: “Hailey is a senior who has been driven to persevere and finish strong this season after recovering from an ACL tear last year,” said Geneva coach Nancy Barbo. “Hailey was instrumental in these key conference victories to help us continue to strive for a conference championship.”
Notable: Peoples carries a 4.0 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society.
Jenna SayleName: Jenna Sayle
School: Kirtland
Grade: Junior
Stats: Scored 33 points with 11 rebounds, 13 steals, two blocked shots and finished the week 15-of-23 from the floor (65-percent)
Coach’s Quote: “Since the overtime game at Independence, when she scored six of our eight points in the win, she has been playing with more confidence and more determination to get to the basket and not being quite so passive,” said Kirtland coach Bob Bell. “She knows she is one of our top two scorers and understands that without her contributing offensively it makes Sydney Snyder’s job much more difficult.”
Notable: Sayle also was a starter on Kirtland’s state runner-up soccer team and runs track for the Hornets.
Sammi ValaitisName: Sammi Valaitis
School: North
Grade: 12
Stats: Scored a career-high 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting with four rebounds in a win over rival South
Coach’s Quote: “Sammi is a high-character young lady and a fantastic student who has worked hard to get to this point in her athletic career,” said North coach Paul Force. “She is a wonderful example of what we want the girls in our program to be–great people, great students and hard-working athletes.”
Notable: Valaitis carries a 4.48 GPA and also plays volleyball for the Rangers.
Brooke WilsonName: Brooke Wilson
School: Cuyahoga Heights
Grade: 11
Stats: Scored 31 points with 12 rebounds and three assists in two wins
Coach’s Quote: “Brooke played very well at both ends of the floor in two important conference games,” said Cuyahoga Heights coach Al Martin. “Brooke works hard every day in practice to improve her game.”
Notable: Wilson also plays soccer and softball and competes in gymnastics for the Redskins.


Josh StasekName: Josh Stasek
School: Independence
Grade: 12
Stats: Finished 5-0 with three pins and a win over a Pennsylvania state place winner at the South Side Duals
Coach’s Quote: “Josh loves to compete and to wrestle,” said Independence coach Ken DeAngelis. “He is willing to take on any challenge and embraces the opportunity to wrestle good kids. He works hard in the room and is a leader on and off the mat. Josh is a testament to the idea that hard work pays off.”
Notable: Stasek, who is 22-4 this season, also earned all-district honors in football.


Coaches, click HERE to nominate your athletes for the Varsity Travel Players of the Week. Athletes from all Northeast Ohio schools are eligible for the award and nominations are due by midnight every Tuesday.

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The creator and publisher of, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.