New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
Even when Levar Ware was at his lowest, people recognized the quality of his character.
Some, like Andy Tommelleo, former director of the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center, went the extra mile because of it.
“From the beginning, the staff (at Cray Youth and Family Services) could see that Levar had a genuineness and a kind spirit,” Tommelleo said. “He has a charisma that draws people to him.”
Tommelleo worked at Cray when he met Levar and supervised him the following year at the vo-tech.
“We just wanted to help him stay in school and stay successful,” Tommelleo said. “He did that.”
New Castle assistant principal and baketball coach Ralph Blundo said Levar needed to make up for years of not moving forward.
“He just needed structure.”
Levar’s behavior and grades improved, and the opportunity to play sports was back in the picture.
“He took some challenging courses, grinded it out and worked for it,” Blundo said.
Joe Cowart, who coached Levar in football and had him in class in junior high, noted that “Levar has come light years from where he used to be.
“He went from being very immature to being a quality person in our locker room.”
When letters from colleges began arriving at the Ware home, it was often too much for his mother, Dalynne, to handle. “She cried all the time,” Levar said.
His mother, a former basketball and track star at New Castle High, was so proud that the faith she had in God and her son was being rewarded.
Levar soon will become the first male in his family to graduate from high school and attend college.
Dalynne was a student athlete at Long Beach State University when she became pregnant with Levar. She had to drop out. They moved back to New Castle when Levar was 2.
Now 18, Levar has two younger siblings at home. Damar is 15 and Dayuna is 13.
RELATES TO KIDS
Levar can be physical on an athletic field or court, but he has a gentleness that comes out when he’s around children.
“Levar has always been able to relate to kids,” Dalynne said. “I think it’s because he has a childlike heart.”
“When I see him interact with kids, he has a knack for lighting up their day,” Cowart added.
Dalynne credits the coaches for showing Levar what it means to be a man.
When football season ended with Cowart, Ralph Blundo and Bill Humphrey took over in basketball. They did more preaching than Billy Graham in his prime.
“I nitpicked and corrected everything that I could see,” Blundo said. “We’re preparing him to succeed.
“He’s going to be a great father and great husband when that time comes, not like what he grew up with.”
“I know right from wrong,” said Levar, who is determined not to fall back in with the wrong crowd, especially when he leaves for Lackawana Junior College in Scranton this fall, where he will play football.
During New Castle’s last practice at Lower Dauphin High School before the Red Hurricane would play for a state championship, Levar spoke to his teammates. He thanked them for never giving up on him.
“You guys are my brothers, my family,” he said. “I never had people who were there for me like that.
“It changed me,” Levar said.
Levar is confident the relationship with his teammates will last a lifetime.
“We loved what Levar brought to our (basketball) team,” said Stew Allen, who has been one of Levar’s biggest supporters despite sharing time with him as the big man in New Castle’s high-powered, four-guard offense.
When an injury took Stew out of the picture for six games this season, Levar stepped up to full-time duty. He had eight points, 11 rebounds and two very big free throws in New Castle’s 62-59 victory over Lower Merion during the regular season.
Levar has a deep laugh that gets the whole team joining in.
“We learned that we could count on Levar,” Blundo said. “He became the face of our team.”
Stew took it upon himself to look after Levar.
“It certainly helped to have a player willing to do that,” Blundo said. “Stew was always planting positive seeds in Levar.”
“When he came out for football three years ago, he had some issues,” Stew said. When Levar was upset or down, Stew usually would know the right words to pick him up.
Then the tables suddenly were reversed.
“Levar helped me last year when I was moved from tight end to tackle. I wasn’t very happy about it and even thought about quitting,” Stew said. “But Levar told me that it was best for the team if I move and since I’d always been telling him to do what was best for the team, I sucked it up.”
Levar used to pout and get angry when things didn’t go his way.
“He reacts differently to criticism now.”
“He’s human and he will still make mistakes,” Blundo said. “But he’s not going to make the big ones.”
Stew is headed to Duquesne, where he will play tight end on the Dukes’ football team next fall. But he won’t forget his friend, who will be a few hundred miles away in Scranton. “I’m just planning on being a friend and texting him to make sure he is doing well.”
Cowart believes Ware will be successful.
“He has all the tools to be a big-time college football player,” Cowart said. “He’s got a ton of talent and a ton of personality. He doesn’t need to be anything more than he is.”
Now, Blundo hopes Levar can help others get to that same point.
“I think Levar is obligated to share his story and impart what he has learned on his journey,” Blundo said. “Maybe there is a fifth- or sixth-grader now dealing with things that he went through.
“They need to know it can be all right.”