By Ryan Kaczmarski
Magnificat High School athletes have earned an abundance of individual and team championships, but the school has never been first about trophies and medals. The spirit of the Blue Streaks has foremost been that in every competition, the athletes demonstrate the public values of teamwork, dedication, hard work and respect.
Over the past four years, the school has honored individuals who exemplify the spirit of Mary’s Magnificat both on and off the field, and last Friday five new members were enshrined into Blue Streaks immortality, in the state of Ohio’s first athletic hall of fame at an all-girls school. The 2013 class consists of Karol Kaminski Coundourides (1980), Ginny Waitkus Heffner (1981), Amy Brown Lupson (1994), Katie Niksa (2005) and former coach and athletic director Gloria Polzer.
Karol Kaminski Coundourides was a three-sport athlete at Magnificat, playing volleyball, basketball and softball. She served as a captain for all three teams and was a recipient of the Magnificat Athlete of the Year Award and the Magnificat Sportsmanship Award. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Baldwin Wallace University, where she continued to compete in volleyball, basketball and softball, in addition to track. She was a captain of the volleyball and softball teams and was named an Academic All-American in both volleyball and basketball. She was also selected as a softball All-American in 1982, 1983 and 1984. Coundourides was chosen as Baldwin Wallace’s Outstanding Female Senior Athlete in 1984 and was inducted into the Baldwin Wallace Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996. She enjoys running road races and marathons, and has coached various youth sports for many years.
Ginny Waitkus Heffner was also a three-sport athlete at Magnificat, participating in volleyball, basketball and softball. For her accomplishments in softball, she was awarded Most Improved League All-Star, the Leader of the Year Award and was named a High School All-American in 1979. She was also named a Volleyball League All Star her senior year. She continued to play volleyball, basketball and softball at Walsh University, where she graduated with a degree in secondary education. She has spent many years coaching a variety of sports at both the youth and high school levels.
Amy Brown Lupson was a four-year member of the Magnificat track and field team and played basketball for two years. She was the discus state champion in 1994 and the state runner-up in 1993. Lupson was selected to the 1994 All-USA track and field team and was ranked 10th in the nation among high school discus throwers. The summer after high school, she was selected to participate in the Golden West Invitational and Olympic Training Center throwing camp. She placed fourth in the discus at the Golden West Invitational against the top high school competition in the nation. She went on to compete in track and field at the University of Virginia, where she obtained a degree in psychology. Lupson was the Atlantic Coast Conference discus champion in 1995, 1996 and 1997. She was also an All-ACC selection in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999. She received her master’s degree at Kent State University, and was the throwing coach at St. Joseph Academy from 2007-2008.
Katie Niksa was a four-year letter recipient on the Magnificat gymnastics team. She competed in all four events at the state meet, leading Magnificat to the team state championship in 2002 and 2003, a second-place finish in 2004 and a third-place finish in 2005. She was an individual state champion in floor exercise and vault and won the individual all-around state title in 2003. In 2004, she was the state runner-up in the floor exercise and the vault and was third place in the all-around. Niksa was a team captain, Magnificat Athlete of the Year and the recipient of the Magnificat Sportsmanship Award. She attended The Ohio State University and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She was an active member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, holding leadership positions of vice president of academics and ritual marshal.
Gloria Polzer was the Magnificat softball head coach from 1981-1984 and the junior varsity volleyball head coach from 1981-1989. While coaching volleyball, Magnificat won the Greater Cleveland Catholic Girls Athletic Conference (GCCGAC) championships in 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1988. From 1983-1990, Polzer also served as the Magnificat athletics director. As athletics director, she began to grow the athletics program by adding freshman and junior varsity teams to sports that already existed. She continued to expand the program by adding the sports of gymnastics, soccer and swimming and diving. As the sports program at Magnificat became more competitive, she made the decision to leave the GCCGAC to play an independent schedule. This allowed Magnificat to play a more competitive schedule, which led to the teams being more successful at the sectional, district, regional and state levels. Polzer graduated from Slippery Rock University in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree in health and physical education. In 2008, she received her master’s degree from Marygrove College. She has been a health and physical education teacher at Magnificat for 32 years.