Three former student athletes to take part in Olympics

Three former Kennesaw State University student-athletes are scheduled to participate in the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Ironically, each of the athletes will be representing other countries, rather than the United States.

The former Kennesaw State standouts who will be in Sydney include baseball player Seth LaFera (Italy), women's basketball player Joanna Cuprys (Poland) and softball player Colleen Thorburn-Smith (Canada).

The most recent KSU student-athlete to make an Olympic team is LaFera, who was the Fighting Owls' starting shortstop in 1997 and 1998 after transferring from DeKalb (now Georgia Perimeter) College. While at Kennesaw State, LaFera twice earned NCAA Division II All-South Atlantic Region honors while also garnering All-Peach Belt Conference accolades in 1997. In 126 career games at KSU, he hit .331 with 28 doubles, 15 home runs, 125 runs scored and 97 RBIs. LaFera is a graduate of nearby Sprayberry High School.

In a recent pre-Olympic exhibition contest against Team USA, LaFera started and went 1 for 1 with a walk and run scored. He has played professionally in Italy since leaving Kennesaw State.

Cuprys was a member of the Lady Owls for just one season after coming over from Auburn University at Montgomery (Ala.), but led KSU to its best year ever when finishing with a 30-2 overall record in 1996-97. Named to several All-America teams in 1997, Cuprys--who holds most of Kennesaw Stateís single season records--led the country in both scoring (26.0 points per game) and three-point field goal percentage (49.2 percent). She received her bachelor's degree in finance from KSU in 1999.

The 6'3" Cuprys recently started at forward as Poland took on the United States in a pre-Olympic game. The Polish native led her squad with 35 minutes played, seven rebounds and two blocked shots while scoring six points. Cuprys has played professionally in France and Poland the past few years.

Kennesaw State's first two-time Olympian is Thorburn-Smith, a catcher/outfielder who also competed in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Thorburn-Smith played with the Owls from 1992-95, leading the club to the Division II national championship in her final campaign. Thorburn-Smith, twice selected as an All-American at KSU, holds many of the school's single game, single season and career records after ending with a .381 career batting average, 25 doubles, 47 triples, 22 homers, 199 runs scored and 179 RBIs in 199 contests. She earned her bachelor's degree in accounting from Kennesaw State in 1996.

Originally from Unionville, Ontario, Canada, Thorburn-Smith now resides in Acworth, Ga., and works as an accountant at TransMontaigne in Atlanta.