School: North Penn
Favorite athlete: Mike Trout
Favorite team: Philadelphia Flyers
Favorite memory competing in sports: District One Championship game 2016, the Pop Warner Bux-Mont championship 2010 and Cooperstown summer of 2012
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: I wore my baseball pants backwards when I was younger and didn't notice until the third inning,
Music on iPod: Country, Rock and Rap and Hip Hop
Future plans: To attend college and play football and possibly baseball and become a special education and math teacher and someday coach
Words to live by: “It's not whether you get knocked down; it's whether you get up” -Vince Lombardi
One goal before turning 30: To win a state championship
One thing people don’t know about me: I am a mama’s boy
By Mary Jane Souder
Mention the name to his football or baseball coach, and both will offer remarkably similar descriptions of the North Penn senior.
“He’s not the superstar, he’s not the big-time playmaker, but he will do any role, play any position, do whatever he has to do, and he’s 100 percent all-in,” North Penn baseball coach Kevin Manero said.
“We call him the Swiss Army Knife – he could play every position,” football coach Dick Beck said. “Kids like him are the heart of the team.
“You have your stars, your Division One players or the guy that’s getting all the headlines, but without the Danny Drops in the world, the headliners aren’t what they are.”
Drop just might be everything that is right about high school sports, and his presence on the baseball team attests to that fact.
After playing a key role in the football team’s magical run to a district title and the state semifinals and with football a part of his future at the next level, Drop could have walked away from baseball, and no one one would have second guessed his decision. Especially considering that last year he played jayvee with only brief stints on the varsity bench.
“A lot of kids in that position would have said, ‘You know what, I’m not going to play baseball anymore. I’m not a varsity starter. Football is where the limelight is, it’s where the Friday night lights are, but that wasn’t him,” Manero said. “He couldn’t wait to get back to baseball in whatever capacity we wanted to use him in. That’s the way he’s always been.”
Drop said, “If I put my mind to it, I’m obviously going to stick with it. Baseball – yes, I had times when I’d think, ‘Am I doing the right thing?’
“I was about to go all-in with football at one point, but then I remembered what my dad told me – ‘Stick with (baseball) another couple of years. It’s good to play two sports, not just all-in one.’ He always said I had better size for baseball than football.”
Drop has been a fixture as the team’s designated hitter this season, and he’s been productive.
“I remember last year sitting at the all-league meeting and saying, ‘There was not one home run hit on our field all year,’” Manero said. “He’s hit a couple of home runs already, and he’s making really good adjustments and hitting varsity pitching well.
“He wants so much to get better. He’s asking for extra batting practice. He’s asking – ‘Can I get extra work hitting the curve ball?’ He’s just super high energy, super positive.”
He’s also the very definition of a team player. During the Knights’ non-league game at Spring-Ford recently, Drop was due up with a runner on first and the Knights clinging to a 3-2 lead.
“It was big spot to maybe drive the ball and keep the inning going, but I wanted to bunt,” Manero said. “We have a kid who’s a very good bunter who specifically I would like to use in that situation, so I pinch hit for him.
“Here he was coming up in a big spot in a night game, I pinch hit for him, put this kid in to bunt. The kid comes up and gets the bunt down. I look over, and the very first kid coming out to give him a high five and congratulate him was Dan Drop. That epitomizes what he is. He is the epitome of a team player.
“There was a similar situation that happened early in the year when I pinch hit for him. He’s not going to sit on the bench and sulk. He’s going to be the first guy to pick up the next guy. He’s just very, very selfless.”
Drop, it turns out, sees the big picture and isn’t in it for himself.
“It’s not just a one-man show,” he said. “It’s a full team.
“Even for us, we have 28 guys, and any one of the 28 guys can go out there and do their jobs.”
As for the Spring-Ford game when he lost an at-bat that might have allowed him to play the hero’s role?
“I understood,” Drop said. “He’s a better bunter than me, so let him do his job because that will benefit the team.”
Sports have always been an important part of Drop’s life. By the time he was in kindergarten, he was playing tee ball. The following year basketball entered the picture, and by second grade, Drop was playing football for the Cannoneers.
He gave up playing competitive basketball after his ninth grade year, devoting his time year round to football and baseball.
To this day, he can’t choose a favorite.
“It was always the sport I was into at the time,” Drop said. “If it was football season, it was always football, and in baseball season, it’s always baseball.
While it’s been a juggling act, Drop wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
“Football for us starts in January, but that’s technically the offseason for baseball, so I would be working out for baseball because that’s my upcoming season,” he said.
Last year’s baseball team didn’t have a long postseason run, so Drop’s football workouts started earlier than if the Knights had made one of their all-but-expected long postseason runs.
“We played a baseball game on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, I was already lifting for football,” Drop said. “They would conflict where I wouldn’t be there for some of the offseason, but for me, it was pretty easy to jump back into things.”
Drop earned a varsity letter in football as a sophomore after playing mainly special teams with starts at outside linebacker in two games.
“There was a great group of guys,” he said. “I had a great buddy, Ryan Nowicki, who really brought me into the football realm and really brought me not just to football events but the team events that the seniors would do.
“They would always bring me in and basically show me how North Penn football worked.”
As a junior, Drop moved to inside linebacker and was the team’s first linebacker in the game. When senior Nick Isabella was sidelined, Drop started three district playoff games.
This year he was a leader on defense and also saw some time at fullback and running back.
“He’s not big in stature when it comes to linebacker, so he was a student of the game,” said Beck of his 5-10, 180-pound linebacker. “He made a lot of calls for us on defense - pre-reading for him was a big plus because he has to make up for what he lacks in size with some smarts and anticipation, and he did a great job that way.”
“I needed to be able to outthink the other team and know where they were going to be,” Drop said. “We had to have certain checks, and I would tell everyone.”
Beck points to Drop’s love of the game as his biggest asset.
“He loves to play, he loves being on a team,” the Knights’ coach said. “He’s a great teammate, a leader by example first and a super hard worker.
“He always has a smile on his face, he handles criticism well, and he’s very mature.”
Drop’s fondest memories of a remarkable senior season that saw the Knights roll to a 14-1 record are not of big wins or big plays but rather of the camaraderie he shared with his teammates.
“I have been playing football with most of the guys on that team since the Cannoneer days,” he said. “We won a championship back in our youth with coach Beck coaching us with Joey (Beck) on the team.
“That was pretty cool to go through the whole football scene with them and go into our last season together. We always called them our brothers for life because they truly are. High school football – you never get it back, and it was just awesome to be a part of it.”
Drop will continue his football career at Juniata College.
“I’m going for football, but I’m keeping baseball in my back pocket,” he said. “I haven’t reached out to the baseball coach yet, but I’ve talked to my football coach, and he said, ‘We’re all for multi-sport athletes.’
“It is the Division 3 level, and there’s more of an opportunity to do that. Of course, my parents would love for me to play baseball rather than football in college because of my injuries and stuff like that.”
Drop has had three concussions, the most recent at the end of last year’s football season.
“I can’t live without sports,” he said. “I love the competition and being able to go out there with all of my friends. These teammates are probably my friends for life, and when we go to reunions, we’ll say, ‘I was part of that team.’ Hopefully, this year it will be a state championship.”
Inspired by the “many great teachers” he’s had along the way, Drop plans to major in special education and mathematics. His interest in special education was piqued when he began participating in North Penn’s Challenger football program.
“It helps special needs kids play football, and I have the patience for the special needs, I believe, and I have a passion,” Drop said. “I have a passion for teaching kids who need a little extra help. Also, my aunt, who I grew up with, has special needs, so I’ve been around it all my life.”
On Sunday afternoons in the fall, Drop could be found at the Variety Club working with the Challenger program.
“Everyone loves their Sundays to watch the Eagles and stuff like that, but for my sophomore, junior and senior years, I was over there helping kids play football and teaching them the game,” he said.
Manero, for one, is not surprised.
“He’s very good when we do the St. Baldrick’s Childhood Cancer fundraiser,” the Knights’ coach said. “He’s been super eager to do that the last two years – he shaves his head, and he’s real good with the kids that are there for that event.”
Manero calls Drop a throwback.
“His parents are great – his mom is one of the booster club members,” the Knights’ coach said. “In a sense, he’s old school because you know he just plays because he loves it. He’s not trying to impress anybody, he’s not trying to chase anything. He’s just out there enjoying every single second of what he does because that’s what you should do when you play high school sports.”