Univest Featured Athletes (Wk 5-20-17)

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 May 20, 2016)

As a pole vaulter, Lexi Schneider is no stranger to soaring to new heights. But that’s also a pretty apt metaphor to the way the Upper Dublin senior approaches academic pursuits, extracurricular activities and her community involvement. And as those who know her best are quick to attest, she’s barely begun to take off. The sky is truly the limit for Schneider. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what Lexi does in college and in the future to save the world,” said Upper Dublin track and field coach Matt Dwyer.  “She’s probably going to do it someday. She’s the kind of kid with the passion and drive that’s going to do something positive to change society one day.”

That’s a pretty extraordinary statement. But Schneider is anything but ordinary. Her outstanding efforts on the soccer pitch and vaulting pit combine with a remarkable academic transcript and a laundry list of extracurricular activities to make Schneider one of the busiest high school seniors in the area.

Her success in all those areas led her to one of the top honors a local high school senior can receive when she was named earlier this month the recipient of the William F. Dannehower Award, presented annually by the Triangle Club of Montgomery County to a student who best represents the three pillars upon which the club was founded:  “Service, Sports, Scholarship.”

Schneider is involved in a multitude of activities at Upper Dublin. In addition to soccer (where she was a four-year starter and a captain and all-league first team selection as a senior) and track (she recently qualified for the state meet), she is involved in the robotics club, plays bassoon in the concert band and is a member of the BioNote Club, which raises funds for afterschool clubs. As part of the Upper Dublin Public Library STEAM Lab, Schneider has worked with the robotics team and Catalyst for Success team to hold workshops on robotics for elementary school students. She has received the Prudential Spirit of the Community Award. She has won numerous awards for her animation work, and she has been published in the National High School Journal of Science. She is a National Merit Finalist, a Coolidge Scholarship Semifinalist and a National AP Scholar. “Lexi shows maturity beyond her years to manage her time and give everything in her life its due effort,” UD soccer coach John Topper said. “Lexi is always the hardest worker on the field. She leads by example every day. As far as a leader for our team this season, you couldn’t ask for much better.”

Schneider will continue her track career at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We lose a phenomenal person – a great athlete but a phenomenal all-around person,” Dwyer said. “MIT is gaining an awesome kid. She’s proven over and over again, Lexi can do it all, and she does it with a smile on her face.”

To read Schneider’s complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/lexi-schneider-0070745

Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete (Week of May 20, 2016)

When an athlete is injured, those on the outside see the work he or she puts in to get back into action. But that’s the physical side of it. What they don’t see is the emotional toll – a toll that Abington’s Joseph O’Brien knows all too well. After going through the Abington School District until eighth grade, O’Brien went to Roman Catholic to experience a school steeped in athletic and academic tradition. During the subsequent AAU basketball season while playing for the Tim Legler-coached South jersey Jazz, O’Brien broke his foot. When it didn’t heal properly, he needed surgery, meaning a long and painful recovery period. “I was out of commission for eight months,” said O’Brien, adding that part of that period included not even being allowed to walk on the injured pin.

A lifetime athlete, the 6-8 O’Brien suddenly found himself without sports in his life. He transferred back to Abington for his sophomore year because of the logistics involved in his rehab. He was unsure of his status with Abington’s basketball team and asked coach Charles Grasty if he was actually part of the squad, despite having not been in the program as a freshman and unable to suit up and prove his worth as a sophomore. Although Grasty assured him a place, O’Brien still felt adrift. As a direct result, his grades suffered, and he was not always fun to be around. “I had some depression from the injury,” O’Brien said. “It was hard for me. I never dealt with that type of adversity before. I just tried to make it better this year.”

And that he did – with room to spare. After playing a solid role as a backup big man off the bench his junior year, O’Brien decided to play some football for coach Kevin Conlin, who didn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and used O’Brien’s size (250 pounds to go with his 6-8 length) as a two-way starter at tight end and defensive end. O’Brien rolled right into basketball season and was a key starter for the district champion Ghosts, finding a role as a shot blocker and rebounder who scored when needed. “We were able to do a lot because we had him back there,” Grasty said. “He’s a big strong kid. You could definitely see a difference in his attitude, his style of play and his leadership (this year). It made a huge difference playing football. He was working out, getting stronger and was able to bang with the bigger people.” O’Brien agrees that it brought a new physicality to basketball. It also helped write a script for a story that had a rough start but a happy ending. “This past season was amazing for me with us winning districts and everything,” O’Brien said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better year.”

O’Brien has committed to continue his basketball career at Kutztown where he will major in sports marketing and management.

To read O’Brien’s compete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/joseph-obrien-0070722