Univest Featured Athletes (Wk. 3-15-18)

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

To see how important Nicole Kaiser was to the state championship Upper Dublin girls’ basketball team, there’s no need to flip through the scorebook or examine her statistics. To see the effort Kaiser puts in every day, to see the unwavering work ethic, to see how much heart and soul she leaves on the floor, just look at her knees and elbows. “If you look at Nicole’s elbows and knees, you’d know what she means to this team and what kind of hustle she puts forth in games and practices,” said UD coach Morgan Funsten. “There’s not a spot on her knees and elbows that is not covered in bruises.” Kaiser doesn’t consider those cuts and scrapes as badges of honor or battle scars. They’re just the result of doing what needs to be done to be successful. And Kaiser is ready and willing to do whatever it takes to earn the W. There may be no place in the scorebook to record who dove to save an errant pass from going out of bounds, but the two or three points it leads to can have a huge effect on the final score.

Upper Dublin’s five losses included a double overtime loss to Plymouth Whitemarsh, a triple OT defeat at the hands of Lancaster Catholic and a three-point loss to Council Rock North in the district playoffs. Young though this year’s team may have been, the Cardinals knew how to respond to adversity. And that ability can be traced directly back to the leadership that Kaiser and Weglos provide. “Teams will follow what the leaders do,” Funsten said. “Nicole and Maggie, they were embarrassed, mad, upset after those losses. And they showed the rest of the team what needed to be done. I can honestly say that I got chills at times watching them practice the next day after a loss. It wasn’t sulking, it was practicing with the purpose of improving. Nicole and Maggie were leading them, showing them how to bounce back, how to be resilient. And the rest of the team took it to heart and learned from it.”

Kaiser boasts a work ethic that was instilled in her earliest days on the athletic field. “You’re not handed anything,” she said. “You’ve got to work for it. And I really just love the game, so I’ve never felt like it was a chore to go out and shoot or to practice. I enjoy it, and I think that makes me work hard to earn my playing time.”

In the fall, Kaiser will head to the University of Central Florida with an eye on pursuing a degree in marine biology. And if UCF basketball is in her future, it will be as a fan rather than a player. And when this young Upper Dublin squad returns next season, what lessons does she hope she’s helped to instill in the underclassmen? “I hope they remember that you have to want it more than the other team, but more than that, you also have to work harder,” she said. “I think the main thing Maggie and I want to leave behind is staying focused, if things go wrong, you have to stay focused, bounce back and work even harder.”

To read Kaiser’s complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/nicole-kaiser-0076503

Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete

Whether an extreme case of beginner’s luck or just a well of previously untapped potential, Evan Clark has come a long way in the course of a little over a year. Clark, a senior at Central Bucks East, recently wrapped up his second season as a member of the school’s swimming and diving team, though his specialty falls entirely into the latter category. With a craft as specialized as diving, one would assume Clark has been performing competitively his entire life, especially after qualifying for consecutive district meets and nabbing a Division I scholarship to dive at Bryant University. As it turns out, the opposite is true. Prior to joining the CB East diving program as a junior, Clark had never dived or swam competitively. His entire experience prior to this unexpected odyssey on the platform came on the board on his swimming pool at home or cliff jumping in the area around his home. And, believe it or not, his interest in the craft stemmed from a different sport altogether.

“My sister did gymnastics growing up, and I would go to a lot of meets,” Clark said. “Just seeing her flip through the air so gracefully, it made me strive to do something like that.” Unfortunately for Clark, there were no club gymnastics teams for boys, so the extent of his experience was limited to goofing around with family and friends. His recruitment to the team was basically an accident, as the program was without a diver for a year. One day in eleventh grade Spanish class, Clark’s teacher, an assistant coach with the girls’ swim team, asked if anyone was interested in filling the void. Clark joined the team, and the rest is history.

“What he’s done is very difficult,” East coach Ed Walsh said. “He has to have a well-developed sense of kinesthesia to know where his body parts are and how to move them, and he has to be fearless. You have to be willing to try new stuff. He’s made considerable progress in the year he’s been diving, and there’s no reason he won’t continue to progress. It will take him some time to figure out that next level, and I hope it’s something he still enjoys, rather than become drudgery, for the next four years. When you stop and think about it – him throwing himself into the air, water can be a hard surface if you hit it flat. I’ve definitely seen him wipe out on dives, but he gets right back up there and does it again. He gets right back on the board a second time to do it a little better. He’s worked really hard to improve.”

Clark isn’t sure what field of study he’ll zero in on at Bryant, though he did mention biochemistry and molecular biology as possible areas of interest.

To read Clark’s complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/evan-clark-0076537