Philipsburg honoring Harpster’s legacy

Taylor Harpster was an outstanding athlete and exceptional student at Philipsburg-Osceola High School who died tragically in an automobile accident last December 26.

She was only 27.

Family, friends, and the Philipsburg community are attempting to ensure that Harpster’s legacy lives on by starting a scholarship in her name for two deserving P-O graduating senior students, starting this spring.

“We’ll be giving out two $1,000 scholarships this year, and for as long as we can do it,” said Taylor’s father, John, who generated the scholarship funds through his own personal donations, as well as donations from other family members, friends, and community members.

The scholarships will be known as the Taylor Harpster “T-Harp” Memorial Scholarships, and will honor P-O’s former softball, basketball and volleyball star.

Winners of the scholarships — which can be used toward costs for trade school or nursing school, as well as for college — will be chosen by a four-person committee which includes John Harpster, his wife, Bobbi, their daughter, Macy, and their son, Johnny.

“The school has an application process, and they will provide us with applications, and we’ll make our decisions from there,” said John Harpster, noting that the deadline for this year’s applications to be submitted is this Friday.

Recipients of the scholarships don’t necessarily have to be students involved in a sport or sports.

“It can be any one, male or female, they may not be in a sport, (but) they are students at Philipsburg-Osceola High School,” John Harpster said. “(The selections) are going to be based solely on what we feel our daughter (Taylor) would want. It’s going to be a very tough decision, probably as tough a decision as we’ve ever made.”

John Harpster expressed appreciation for the involvement of the Clearfield County Charitable Foundation, which he said handles the donations and any tax obligations.

“I really appreciate the effort of family, friends, the community, and the Clearfield County Charitable Foundation, which handles the financial end of it, things like taxes,” John Harpster said.

Long-time P-O softball coach Jim Gonder watched Taylor Harpster help lead the program to a PIAA championship as a freshman right fielder in 2007, and to the PIAA championship game as a senior catcher in 2010.

“She was a tremendous athlete — strong, agile, and she moved well,” Gonder said. “Athletically, she was as good as you’re going to get, and from the time she was a freshman, the other kids in the program looked up to her and rallied around her. She was good at leading by example, good at helping out people, and they respected her for it.”

Taylor Harpster scored over 1,300 points in her high school basketball career, and helped lead the Philipsburg-Oscoela volleyball team to a District 6 title. She also excelled academically, graduating third in her class at P-O in 2010, and with highest distinction from Lock Haven University in 2014, with a degree in accounting.

The Harpster family has also donated a bench in Taylor’s memory with her name engraved on it. The bench is situated outside the left field line between third base and the outfield, near the bleachers, at the P-O Softball Complex.

“It gets used,” John Harpster said of the bench. “People can sit there and watch the games.”

The scholarship and the bench are testaments to the fact that Taylor was deeply treasured by her family and the community.

“What is being done has been done beecause people loved Taylor,” Gonder said. “That says it all, I guess.”

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