Univest Featured Athletes (Wk. 4-12-18)

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 April 12, 2018)

Last week was one of the best of Hayley Ross’s life, sprinting through the finish line and into a collegiate track commitment at the University of Vermont. And to think, it could have never happened at all. Ross, a senior track and cross country runner at Wissahickon, has endured her fair share of obstacles as it pertains to her sport. Those include, but are not limited to, not one but two stress fractures, as well as a recently diagnosed thyroid condition that affects memory, concentration and energy, an important trio of prerequisites for any competitive runner. Despite sometimes dealing with frustration and self-doubt in the wake of these adversarial potholes (who wouldn’t?), Ross has endured. After all, one of the beauties of running is that it can and should serve as a stress reliever rather than something that causes and compounds the pressures of everyday life.

“Running can add stress during races, but it’s also something that helps me work toward my goals,” Ross said. “And being around the team makes me not worry about anything else during that hour or hour-and-a-half of practice. It’s always the best part of my day.” Ross has certainly had her high points as a runner at Wissahickon. She qualified for indoor states in the 800-meter race as a sophomore, junior and senior, and her favorite memory in competitive running was anchoring the 4x400-meter relay in last year’s indoor season, earning a state medal. However, there have also been plenty of valleys to go with Ross’ personal peaks, all related to the stress fractures and thyroid condition, which sapped her energy and spirit to the point where she wasn’t sure if she wanted to pursue running in college, or even worse, that prospective coaches wouldn’t be interested in her because they thought she was injury prone.

Luckily for Ross, she is surrounded by a rock-solid support system, which starts with her family and also includes Wissahickon cross country and track coach Heidi Butt. The Trojans’ coach, who has know Ross since she was a little girl, has been there for Ross to lean on as she has endured the health issues that have sometimes limited her ability to participate in track or cross country. “This year, what she went through with her thyroid condition that impacted concentration, she easily could have asked for a schedule change or fallen into senioritis,” Butt said. “But she doesn’t lay off the academic work and stuck with the highest level honors and AP courses. She also works and cares for her nephew and is involved with her church. She’s very goal-driven and doesn’t make excuses. I’m an adult and have a ton on my plate, so sometimes I wonder how she does it as a kid. It comes from the dedication and devotion and drive that not all kids have. She’s a young woman who has really blossomed, and I’m lucky to have been a part of that.”

Now that Ross has returned to competition for the spring outdoor season, she’s focused on finishing her high school career with a bang. “I want to come back and prove people wrong who didn’t think I could succeed this season,” she said. “Make it to districts and PR is my main goal, and if I don’t makes it to states, I’ll always have the medal from last year.”

To read Ross’ complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/hayley-ross-0077249


Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete (Week of April 12, 2018)

Council Rock North’s football program has gone through a rough patch in recent years. Two years ago, Brandon McIlwain guided the Indians to an SOL Continental Conference title and a spot in the district playoffs. Since then, the Indians – who returned to the SOL National Conference – have won just two games. If it sounds like the kind of thing that might take the joy out of the game for some athletes, you haven’t met Jason Walter. “It was definitely a struggle the past two years facing adversity and playing teams that are bigger, stronger and faster than us,” the Rock North senior said. “But if anything, it actually made me grow to love the game of football even more rather than go away from it. My sophomore season we had a great season and a great quarterback. Our coaches left, and our program completely changed, so I was able to watch and be a part of a completely different culture coming in, and it was actually a neat experience to be a leader in a new situation within the school program. I guess it was a growing and learning experience for me in that aspect.”

Matt McHugh uses the phrase “true leader” repeatedly when talking about his senior captain, who will be taking his talents to Ithaca College this fall. “He has some physical attributes – he’s strong, he’s big, and he can run a little bit, but the reason he’s playing college football is because he has a strong passion for the game, and he has some strong leadership qualities,” the Indians’ coach said. “Jason’s always well prepared and his passion is just contagious and his leadership is just contagious and players follow him.” And even though baseball is Walter’s secondary sport, he has had an equally positive impact on that program as well. “He’s the hardest worker out there,” coach Matt Schram said. “He’s a competitive and will take the shirt off his back for anybody. He’s the dirtiest one out there from sliding all over the dirt, he’s the sweatiest and he’s the bloodiest. You know when he walks away from the baseball field that he gave it everything he had every time and not just for himself. He does it for the team.”

Ask Jason Walter where he got his competitive nature and passion for sports, and he points to his mother, Holly Walter, who lost her six-year battle with cancer the day after Christmas his junior year. Holly didn’t just love sports – competing in basketball, volleyball and softball, she excelled. “She would be the one that threw me batting practice,” Jason said. “My dad could definitely do that stuff, but she was the person who always wanted to do it. I got my competitive nature from her. She was a fighter, and I think of myself that same way, especially with the football season. She never gave up. She taught me to not give up and not put your head down when things are going bad. Just always fight and see the best in things and opportunities.”

An honors student, Walter plans to major in business at Ithaca this fall. “He’s a 4.0 student, takes AP classes – he’s a bright individual,” McHugh said. “His passion and his ability to lead is by far the best I’ve seen coming through in my head coaching experience at Council Rock and my coaching experience in general. He’s just a phenomenal young man.”

To read Walter’s complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/jason-walter-0077250