The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

In the Spotlight

November 22, 2013

‘She ... excels at everything’: Three-sport star is state winner for High School Heisman

SIDMAN — Caitlyn Gallaher can strike the Heisman pose.

The Forest Hills High School senior recently learned she has been selected as the female state winner in the Northeast Region’s Wendy’s High School Heisman Award program.

The program recognizes outstanding high school seniors nationwide who excel in athletics, academics and in the community.

Gallaher was chosen from 48,000 applicants, surviving rounds that narrowed contenders to one male and one female winner from each school, and then to each state’s group of 20 finalists.

Selected students go on to compete against winners from other regions across the country for a chance to be named one of 12 national finalists.

These 12 will compete for the national title in New York City on Dec. 13 and be featured on the televised ceremony on ESPN, receive a gold medal and $2,000 awards for their school.

One male and one female national winner each will receive a crystal Wendy’s High School Heisman trophy, a $500 Wendy’s gift card, a $10,000 donation from Wendy’s to their high school and be recognized during the collegiate Heisman Trophy announcement Dec. 14.

Gallaher said she was one of

25 students from Forest Hills to fill out the initial application detailing her academic and sports accomplishments and community involvement.

“I really didn’t think it was that big of deal and I just filled it out,” she said.

When Gallaher learned she was named a state winner, she said she was in shock.

“It’s such an honor to be recognized and it’s unbelievable to think I could be picked for the top 12,” she said.

The top 12 finalists will be posted on Wendy’s High School Heisman’s website at

“I’m very nervous to see who gets selected, but I believe I do deserve this,” Gallaher said.

Gallaher is a member of the high school’s basketball, soccer and track teams.

She’s a member of the National Honor Society and a handful of other school clubs, and takes honors calculus and English and anatomy and government classes for college credits.

Gallaher also is active in the school’s Young Life program which gives students the opportunity to grow in their faith.

For the community, she’s been involved with walks that benefit charities and participates in the youth group at her church.

Forest Hills High School physical education teacher Brenda Gdula said Gallaher is a perfect example of what you can achieve with hard work.

“She has accomplished a high level of success whether it’s in academics, sports, faith or the community,” she said. “She’s the total package and excels at everything she does.”

Gdula said Gallaher is the first Forest Hills student to be named a High School Heisman Award state winner.

“We’re so proud and she’s very deserving,” Gdula said.

As for college, Gallaher plans to study speech pathology. She hasn’t chosen a college but has narrowed down her choices to Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, IUP or Mount Union College.

Gallaher, who is the daughter of Troy and Patricia Gallaher of Summerhill, said what motivates her is her competitive drive to succeed in and out of the classroom.

“I come from a very competitive family and I’ve been played sports since I was young – soccer at 4 and basketball at 5,” she said. “I’m lucky to be on teams who want to win and work hard and teachers who push me to do my best because they want me to be successful.”

Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at

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