Dionna “Tiger” Santia currently a senior at Hopewell High School has announced that she will continue playing soccer in college for the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Tiger plans to major in Health Sciences.
Tiger began her high school career at Hopewell at just 13-years-old and immediately became a starter at center back as a freshman for coach, Chet Gapczynski. She made such impact that she was named Top Underclassmen for the 2020 season by Gapczynski. For her sophomore year, Tiger in 2021 transferred to Our Lady of Sacred Heart High School where she continued to play center back, letter and help lead the Lady Chargers to the WPIAL A playoffs.
Tiger returned to Hopewell for her Junior year where she was reunited with her former teammates and with Gapczynski. Tiger was named a team captain with two seniors. With the team struggling to score goals early in the 2022 season, Gapcyznski made the decision to move Tiger from her normal defensive position at center back to an offensive position at center forward. Tiger along with teammates Angela Campbell and Mary Adams quickly formed a connection and combined for 26 goals and 21 assists for the season. The trio energized the offense and the Lady Vikings responded by making the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2019. Tiger ended up leading the team with 9
goals and 7 assists during Section 1 play.
“I had the distinct honor and privilege to coach Tiger for two years during my time at Hopewell High,” said Coach Gapczynski. “As a lifetime coach for 30+ years I have had the privilege to coach many tremendous young
athletes. Very few players come along that have that have the quality I consider absolutely special. As a player Tiger is just an all-around great player. However, as a young lady she is even more special. Pitt Greensburg is very lucky to acquire Tiger to their school and soccer program.”
In 2023, Tiger returned as a captain for her senior season with expectations for the Lady Vikings to return to the playoffs. Although she was moved back defense to help the team, Tiger still led the Lady Vikings in scoring for the season.
Tiger’s favorite high school moment was helping the Lady Vikings qualify for the 2022 playoffs.
“My freshman year we didn’t win a game and we barely had enough girls to field a team,” said Santia. “When I came back for my junior year there were 18 girls on the team, and we were all on the same page. Coach Chet had confidence in me to step out of my comfort level and play offense. It was a great experience to help get the team back to the playoffs.”
Tiger’s recruitment by the coaching staff at Pitt-Greensburg began during her junior year, and it didn’t take long before she verbally committed just prior to starting her senior year of high school.
“Her touch and vision were the first thing that stood out to us. She makes tough plays and situations a lot easier, not only for herself but for teammates as well. That’s really important to our team.” Pitt Greensburg Head Coach Chuck Wigle said. Because of Tiger’s ability to see the field and distribute the ball to open players she could get minutes at center midfield as well as center back in college.”
“I really liked Coach Wigle and Coach Fabian from our very first conversation during the PA Winter Cup Classic,” Tiger said. They were down to earth and there is always an open line of communication. After my official visit last March, I knew that’s where I wanted to attend college and play soccer.”
Coach Wigle expects Tiger to compete for serious minutes and contribute as a freshman. “We are really excited about Tiger joining our team. Tiger has a real passion to play soccer. If there’s an opportunity to play, she’s playing. Her passion will ensure she’ll be successful as an athlete, student and most importantly as a person.” Wigle said.
Tiger began training in late September to prepare for college two to three nights a week with Vincent Kortsham and Craedel Kimbrough. She has already played in two showcases for her Club Team which is now Beadling West. Tiger has been with some of her Club Teammates since they were 12 years old.
“My Club teammates are some of my best friends. I have played with many super talented girls. We always support each other, and we go to high school games to see each other play, but we always look forward to November when we can start practicing together as a team again. Even when we aren’t together, we play FIFA on Xbox and compete against each other from home.” Tiger said.
Her Club Coach, Chris Lantzy, has coached Tiger since she was 12 years old and played an integral role in Tiger’s development. “Tiger is a relentless competitor who brings 100% effort to every practice and game. With her work ethic and athleticism, she will continue to be an impact player at the collegiate level.” Lantzy said.
Tiger maintains a 3.8+ grade point average and is a member of the National Honor Society. After her four-year degree is completed at Pitt Greensburg, Tiger plans to enroll into Pitt’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS)