Univest Featured Athletes (Wk. 1-5-17)

SuburbanOneSports.com recognizes a male and female featured athlete each week. The awards, sponsored by Univest, are given to seniors of good character who are students in good standing that have made significant contributions to their teams. Selections are based on nominations received from coaches, athletic directors and administrators.

Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Female Athlete (Week of Jan. 5, 2017)

Savanna Harrison needed only to look at her cleats. “Event + Reaction = Outcome” “Next Play” Two simple messages, one on each foot, both serving a constant reminder to the Pennridge senior to not dwell on a mistake or a bad play. Harrison is her own biggest critic, analytical of her play and her effort, sometimes almost to a fault, so a couple messages in pen were there to make her pick her head right back up if she ever let it drop. Most positions on a soccer pitch have some stat to measure them. Goalkeepers have saves, defenders the number of shots allowed, forwards and attacking midfielders have their goals and assists. A player like Harrison isn’t defined by stats, she didn’t have many goals or assists in her high school career, but the SOL Continental Conference champion Rams – who advanced to state tournament - wouldn’t have been the same team without her. “She’s the kid that wants her team to succeed,” Rams’ coach Audrey Anderson said. “She’s just a really good kid all-around.”

Harrison was a goalkeeper until – at the age of 11 – she asked Anderson to come out of the net and become a field player. At first, she recalled Anderson being a little skeptical because she herself wasn’t totally sure it was a move she wanted to make, but the Rams’ coach gave Harrison the opportunity, trying her as a forward, then an outside midfielder before settling in as a center midfielder with defensive tendencies. “The thing that’s so great about Sav is she rarely loses the ball,” Anderson said. “She wasn’t a goal scorer, but if you gave Savanna the ball, she wasn’t going to turn it over, and nobody was going to take it from her.” Harrison also reads the game impeccably well, planning her next move before she’s even received the ball from a teammate.

Harrison was her own toughest critic, and that even extended to the classroom where she’s a straight-A student and part of the National Honor Society. She is continuing her career at Kutztown University, a national semifinalist this past fall. Asked what she would have to do to keep growing at the next level, Harrison’s answer was, well, Harrison. She said she planned to ask her past coaches what the weakest areas of her game are and then spend the months until she leaves for college training “harder than ever” to get better in those areas. While Harrison didn’t have numbers that jumped off the page, her impact was undeniable as she was an easy pick for First Team All-SOL Continental. Maybe she didn’t always realize her impact or how she was influencing the game, but plenty of people around her did.

To read Harrison’s complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/savanna-harrison-0067151


Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete (Week of Jan. 5, 2017)

In spite of some tough times, Bensalem senior captain Richard Dean has always found his way back to his home away from home – the basketball court. Such was the case recently when he received an unexpected Christmas present in a game against Council Rock North, taking an elbow to the head. While the Owls went on to win the Dick Dougherty Tournament without their captain, Dean went into mandatory concussion protocol.  “They’re no joke – headaches, sensitive to brightness and loudness,” he said of concussions. “Also, my jaw was sore, but everything is way better now.” While life has dealt Dean some other wounds, the kind not seen, he has emerged stronger and more focused for it. “One of my family members was involved with drugs,” he said. “I got depressed. I didn’t want to play basketball anymore or even go to school.”

That’s when head coach Mike McCabe and assistant coach Ron Morris – who McCabe calls his “eyes and ears” and his “lifeline” to the high school (McCabe teaches at Robert K Shafer Middle School) stepped in. “Coach McCabe and Coach Morris really helped me through it,” Dean said. “Last year, when I was going through the family stuff, Coach Morris was always there. He told me to keep my head up and to call him if I ever needed anything.” Dean took Morris up on the offer and has become like a member of his family in the process. “I have been able to build a bond with him, kind of like a father and son,” said Morris, who also had Dean in class. “We have many conversations about basketball, school and life. Rich has overcome some tough times. Unfortunately, addiction affected his family. In my time in education, I have come across a number of kids who have been in this type of situation. Many of the kids will act out in a negative way. Rich is the total opposite. He’s a quiet, well-mannered, all-around good person. He used his tough situation as motivation to do well on the court as well as in the classroom.”

McCabe coached Dean in middle school and says that while he had some skills, he has grown by leaps and bounds since then. “He had 30 against Wissahickon, and he made it look easy,” McCabe said. “I knew he had the ability to be a very good player. It was just a matter of how much he wanted it, and he got hungrier and hungrier.” Dean is putting for the same effort in the classroom. “Richard has become a better student over the last two years,” Morris said. “His success on the court and newfound success in the classroom should definitely propel him at the next level. Any coach that will get Rich next year will be very impressed with the whole package.” Dean’s persona can be attributed to his belief in a higher power. “I’d like to thank God,” he said. “Even when I was at my lowest point, he always brought me up. I always believed in God, and my mom always talked about God. Now, after I went through all that, I started praying – praying every night and hoping things would get better.”

To read Dean’s complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/richard-dean-0067150