Geneseo senior forward Lea Sobieraski aspires to use her degree in business administration for a career in sports marketing and public relations. On her journey to achieving these goals, Sobieraski was diagnosed with a rare liver disease called Wilson’s disease in fall 2012.
Since the diagnosis, she has battled back and, with the help of her teammates, has put the Knights in a position to come out victorious come conference tournament time. Sobieraski was named to the Allstate Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Good Works Team, which honors members of the NCAA basketball community who have had a positive impact on their respective communities.
As one of 20 men and women selected, Sobieraski will be flown down for the 2015 NCAA Women’s Division I Final Four in Tampa, Florida. The committee that selected her consists of basketball legends including Grant Hill, Tamika Catchings, Greg Anthony and Seth Greenberg.
Sobieraski was adamant that her love for the game has been the biggest inspiration in her struggle. “I wanted to work toward coming back to basketball and being back with the team. I wanted to try to regain a normal life as much as possible,” Sobieraski said. “It was not necessarily even playing that I wanted to do, but being back with the team that has stuck with me through everything. I felt I owed it to them to give it all I got and get back out on the court.”
Sobieraski is an advocate for the Upstate New York Transplant Service, which helps people in similar situations find suitable donors. She has spoken at numerous events all across New York State and emphasized that she loves speaking about her story.
“I love helping to influence a young audience and teach them about not only Wilson’s disease, but also organ donation in general. Most people are unaware of organ donation and how it can save lives,” Sobieraski said. “I have people come up to me all the time, saying how my story has influenced them to become an organ donor and how inspired they are by me.”
Being one of five seniors on the team, Sobieraski stressed that the “friendship and memories I have made really go to show you how it is more than a game.” She said she loves her team unconditionally and would do anything for its success. She is also the lone member of this Knights team with a SUNYAC Title, as she was a freshman on the 2010-11 team when the Knights won it all. But to Sobieraski, it’s just another game.
“Although a win would be nice, I think for me just being able to get back to doing what I love is the real reward. Our team has worked so hard to get to the point we are at,” she said “For four years, they have been so close but come up short. But I think anything is possible and hosting home court would be huge, so why not us?”