Thomas Jefferson’s Fairman awarded Alex Danscak Memorial Scholarship
Thomas Jefferson’s loss will be Robert Morris’ gain.
Garret Fairman, a 2018 graduate and three-sport standout for the Jaguars, will continue his athletic career in the RMU football program.
Fairman recently capped a highly accomplished senior year at TJ by landing the Alex Danscak Memorial Scholarship.
“It is a great honor to win the award,” Fairman said. “To be included among the other outstanding people that have won the award is amazing.”
The memorial scholarship was started in 2015 by Danscak’s parents, John and Barbara, and the TJ football program. It is presented annually to a senior player.
Athletes write an anonymous essay on what football has meant to their lives. All essays, with names of the authors removed, are given to the Danscak family, who read them and pick a winner that most closely reflects their son’s memory.
“My general theme was how I would best try to represent Alex through the award if I were to achieve it,” Fairman said.
The award winner receives a $500 scholarship and a commemorative plaque; his name is engraved on an award display that is showcased in the high school.
Danscak was a TJ football player from 2007-10 who died of natural causes at the age of 21.
“He was a great young man and an excellent teammate,” TJ coach Bill Cherpak said. “The scholarship is to honor Alex’s memory.”
A wide receiver/defensive back, Fairman is the fourth recipient of the award, joining previous winners Austin Kemp (2015), Braden Pahanish (2016) and A.J. Putignano (2017).
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Fairman enjoyed a brilliant athletic career at Thomas Jefferson as a multiple-year starter in football, basketball and baseball.
He was recruited to play safety by Robert Morris, and plans to major in accounting in college.
“I thought (RMU) was the best fit for me,” Fairman said. “The new coaching staff is changing the culture of that program in the right direction, and I really wanted to be part of it.”
TJ has won three consecutive WPIAL championships in football, and Fairman was one of the Jaguars’ headliners on offense last season.
He led the team in receiving with 51 receptions for 948 yards and 11 touchdowns. He averaged 18.6 yards per catch, with his longest reception covering 78 yards.
An all-conference selection on both offense and defense, Fairman was selected to play in the PSFCA East-West all-star game held in May at Altoona’s Mansion Park Stadium.
He also was a starter/letterman in basketball and baseball since his sophomore year.
“First off, he is an awesome kid. He has a great personality, and always has a smile on his face,” Cherpak said. “Garret is big, can run and has excellent instincts. He does so many things well on the field in all three phases of the game.
“He is an excellent three-sport athlete; he is also very intelligent.”
Fairman started at outside linebacker as a junior, but switched to safety last season.
“As a freshman, I was originally a safety,” he said.
Since 2015, TJ has won three WPIAL titles and compiled a 34-3 record against WPIAL opponents.
The Jaguars blanked Montour, 27-0, in last year’s WPIAL finals at Heinz Field. Fairman provided his team with an offensive spark, scoring on a 67-yard punt return midway through the first quarter.
“Garret’s punt return to get us the first score was a great example of a senior leader stepping up in a big game and making a play,” Cherpak said.
TJ has captured eight WPIAL titles and three PIAA crowns in school history. The Jaguars have won 10 straight WPIAL playoff games over the past three years, defeating Armstrong (42-7), West Allegheny (14-0), Franklin Regional (34-21), Central Valley (20-7), in 2015; Montour (35-0), West Mifflin (35-7), New Castle (42-0), in 2016; and Trinity (42-0), Belle Vernon (27-0) and Montour, in 2017.
“My fondest high school memories would definitely be with all my coaches and teammates,” Fairman said. “Through the years, I have made great relationships with my coaches and trainers, as well as my teammates, that will last forever.”
Fairman, who graduated with a 3.9 GPA, was a member of the National Honor Society and Big Jag Little Club, and was a WPIAL scholarship winner.
He also participated in TJ’s annual “Dancing With the Athletes” competition in January. Fairman and his dance partner, Tori Weisbrod, performed a disco dance.
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.