Univest Featured Athletes (Wk. 2-1-18)

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 Feb. 1, 2018)

The oboe is universally accepted as one of the most difficult musical instruments to master. But Robert Guthy was among the few who could make the instrument heard from film scores to Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” sound as described in the play “Angels in America” -- like “that of duck if the duck were a songbird.” And then came the day he just could not play it, at least not in front of an audience, anymore. The cause was performance anxiety. According to Cheltenham senior Olivia Guthy, her father always regretted it. It seemed like fodder for a Greek tragedy when she developed some of the same issues, putting her to the brink of giving up competitive swimming. “Last year, definitely,” said the two-year captain. “Throughout the entire season, I was ready to give up.”Drawing strength from a support system – her mom, Beth; current coach, Karen Wirtshafter; and her teammates – she worked to successfully wrestle her demons to the ground and return.

When it came to the most decisive reason in coming back for what has been a strong senior season, it was all about dad. She didn’t want to live to regret giving up swimming. “My emotions go through him,” said Guthy of the man people love to love at meets because of his infectious personality. “He was as upset as I was. If there was a reason I couldn’t stop swimming, it was because of him.”

A record-setting phenom from the time she first started competing for the Cheltenham Aquatic Club, Guthy entered high school with almost messianic expectations. With Guthy’s advance billing, it was presumed that reaching states was a foregone conclusion. “Everything was always about states,” she said. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”But she had to get through districts at La Salle University first, and that’s where the mental block – the performance anxiety – became more of a hurdle than rival swimmers. Coming up short of states meant all the hours – the “meet” days that sometimes run from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. – felt wasted as her seasons of expectations ended in extreme disappointment.“I was extremely overwhelmed,” said Guthy. “At districts, I shut down. It was horrible. I was too stressed out.”

Wirtshafter, who has coached Guthy since the age of 6, understood the pressure Guthy was putting on herself. “She was really being built up, but she bombed at districts,” the Lady Panthers’ coach said. “That’s a tough thing when you are that good. She said that maybe it was the pool. I told her that it wasn’t the pool. It’s a hard thing. She is one of the best swimmers to ever come through here. Some kids would give up and quit. She never quit. She still loves the sport, and the camaraderie.”

Wirtshafter had a plan to maintain that love of the sport. She decided to make Guthy a team captain as a junior to “get her more into a leadership role.” While it started off a little shaky, it played out perfectly. “It did help out,” said Guthy, who takes AP literature and several honors classes. “I still haven’t done so amazing at districts yet, but Karen is good at talking me off the ledge. She cares about me as a person, not just as a swimmer. I was a different captain then than I am now.” Wirtshafter feels a sense of satisfaction for the experiment working out. “She has a totally different attitude,” she said. “She’s a senior captain now, and she gives speeches. I saw something happening with her. She found her love for the sport again.”

To read Guthy’s complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/olivia-guthy-0075750

Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete (Week of Jan. 25, 2018)

With his post-high school sights squarely focused on the U.S. Naval Academy, it’s no surprise to hear that Ben Komita has his captain duties on lockdown. Komita is a senior swimmer for Central Bucks South, but he’s so much more than just an athlete. In fact, Komita is in his second year as a captain of the team, making him just the second swimmer in the program’s 14-year history to serve in that role prior to senior year. He’s a respected leader and ambassador for his school and his team, on and off the pool deck. “As much as we want the kids to swim fast, we also teach them to be respectful, responsible gentlemen,” said coach Jeff Lake. “We’re big on character education as much as we are swimming. Ben epitomizes all of that. He’s so invested in it, both in what he does as well as his teammates. He’s another coach on the deck. He’s the hub of the team in that he holds the family and spirit aspect of it altogether. Oh, and he’s a pretty good swimmer, too.”

Komita hit the ground running – or, more appropriately, hit the water swimming – right out of the gate as a freshman for the Titans. At the end of his sophomore year, Lake bequeathed to him the Titan Award, an award that “epitomizes hard work, given to a great kid that you know when he gets sent out into the world after high school that he’s going to do amazing things.” It’s an honor that usually goes to a senior, but Komita was so far ahead of the maturity curve as a 10th grader that he didn’t give Lake much of a choice.

There is more to both life and Komita than athletic accomplishments. He’s the type that wants to experience everything he possibly can out of life. He has played the cello since he was in fourth grade. He has gone on mission trips with his church to locales both near and far, and he is involved in South’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes. A strong student at South, Komita would like to study ocean engineering at the Naval Academy. On Jan. 12, Komita was one of 24 high school students from Bucks and Montgomery Counties who received a military service academy nomination from U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. Although a nomination does not guarantee entry to a military academy, it doesn’t hurt either. Even if Komita does not end up attending Navy, nominees often receive ROTC scholarships or nominations to other service academies.

For Lake, Komita is one of the most special kids he’s ever coached. “I think what I’ll miss most about Ben is his ability to adapt, to get knocked down and get right back up,” Lake said. “He’s seen success and learned from it, just as he’s seen failure and learned from that. He’s really good at staying positive during good and bad times, and I think that’s why people are drawn to him and why he’s so liked by others.”

To read Komita’s complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/ben-komita-0075740