Brenden Craven

School: Hatboro-Horsham




Favorite athlete: LeBron James 

Favorite team: Eagles

Favorite memory competing in sports: Winning my little league championship.

Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Freshman year I made five errors in right field in one game.

Music on playlist: “The Great Escape” by Gwen Stefani, Akon  

Future plans:  I plan to attend Penn State for political science and eventually become a lawyer.

Words to live by: “Leaders eat last.”

One goal before turning 30: Run for some sort of political office. 

One thing people don’t know about me: I play the clarinet in our school band.


When Brenden Craven sets foot on the campus of Penn State University later this year, it will be a momentous occasion.

The Hatboro-Horsham senior outfielder will be the first in his family to attend college.

“It means a tremendous amount to me, honestly,” said Craven. “I saw it as an opportunity to take my family and the people I love to the next level and keep moving up in the world. I’m very excited for the opportunity to do that.”

Given his tight bond with his mother, Annalee Craven, the college choice came down to two major factors: geography and money.

“Because no one in my family has ever been to college, there was no pressure to go anywhere specific,” said Craven. “It has always been me and my mother. We are very, very close. I knew that I couldn’t go very far. All the colleges that I applied to were within 2-3 hours.”

Craven applied to schools like Temple and West Chester, but the final decision came down to George Washington in the nation’s capital and Penn State.

Said Craven, who is also close with his grandmother, Kathleen Craven: “With the money I got from Penn State and how expensive George Washington would be, I figured it was a great place to go.

“I grew up without a father figure. It has always just been me and my mother. We never had a lot of money. Things like that made us really close.”

When he gets to State College, Craven – an excellent student with a GPA in 3.7-3.8 range – plans to major in political science.

He plans to then put his oratory skills to use by going to a law school, with a possible eye toward politics.

“I was always questioning what I want to do with my life – I think we all do,” said Craven, who realized medicine was out when he didn’t fare as well in biology as he did in other subjects. “I was, like, ‘Let’s take a step back. What am I good at here?’ I have always been good at English and talking. My mother brought up being a lawyer. I had never really thought about that before, so I did a lot of research on it.”

The idea of law school for three extra years was seen as the type of academic challenge he thrives on.

“I have always been obsessed with the idea of education,” said Craven. “I really enjoy learning. It might sound crazy, but another three years after college sounds appealing to me. I want to go out there and learn and use some of those skills – not just to be a lawyer but to maybe do some other things.

“I have always been interested in politics. Last year, I took AP Government, which pushed me toward the lawyer route, too. I have been reading a lot of memoirs and stuff. I’m actually reading A Promised Land by Barack Obama right now. The overall idea of a unified America is something that I would like to chase, especially in political office and doing stuff like that.

“Being a student, overall, hasn’t been too much of a challenge for me. I enjoy the challenge.”

And it also means time management.

“Juggling my time is very much a skill that everyone still struggles with, and I haven’t figured it out 100 percent,” said Craven. “When I have to get things done, I sit down and say to myself, ‘Hey, I have to get this done.’”

A Father Figure

While he didn’t really have a father figure in his life, H-H head coach Bill DeBoer has played a major role, having coached him all the way up from JV and now with varsity.

“I have always been with him, all four years,” said Craven. “The connection we have built through that has taught me a bunch of different things in baseball. We all know that sports aren’t just sports, they are metaphors for life. Some of the lessons that he has taught me have really been influential and important in my life.

“He always says stuff like, ‘Practice doesn’t make you perfect, but it makes you better. We are allowed to make mistakes, but you are going to bounce back from those mistakes.’ You are never going to bat 1.000 on the season, but you can get a little bit better every time you step on that field.”

While DeBoer says he didn’t purposefully treat Craven any differently than other players, he did sense that there was an extra void that needed to be filled.

“I was aware of it, but I don’t think I did anything special that I wouldn’t do for any other kid,” said DeBoer. “But I did notice that he took to it a little bit more than some kids who didn’t have that challenge in life.

“He seemed, like, ‘Oh, OK, I’m going to listen to what he says.’ Sometimes you get tuned out, you know? The message gets a little blasé for kids and they can kind of tune you out.”

Because COVID negated fielding a freshman team, Craven was part of a bloated JV roster coached by DeBoer.

“I think I had three or four Brendens on the team,” said the coach. “Even more so, he kind of got lost in the crowd. He was a skinny kid who was also in the band, but he also had a lot of energy. He ran to everything he did. Everything we asked of him at practice, he hustled all the time.

“At first, he was just this skinny little kid who said, ‘Let’s give baseball a try.’ Now, as a senior, he has turned into one of our leaders. I didn’t even expect the kid to come back his sophomore year, to be honest with you. Once the numbers thing got sorted out, I figured he was going to just stay with his schoolwork and the band and that baseball would fall by the wayside.

“The band works just as hard as our baseball team does.”

Through to this season, his first at the varsity level, Craven plays the role of a sparkplug off the bench.

“His skill set probably isn’t as the top of our list, but the energy he brings – his character around the team – just sort of grows on you,” DeBoer said. “He is just an infectious kid to be around, and he has accomplished a whole lot more than I ever expected him to in the sport. He comes off the bench, but every time he gets into the game, the other guys are cheering for him. He is cheering for them when they are out on the field, so they make a point of cheering extra loud when he is out on the base paths or in the field.”

Hitting the High Notes

Craven is an accomplished musician who plays the clarinet in the concert band and the saxophone in the jazz band while also part of the school’s musical accompaniment and a collection of Montgomery County’s best.

He learned the clarinet in fourth grade and the saxophone in sixth grade.

“I consider that to be my main thing in school,” said Craven, who also takes part in a mentoring program, Link Crew, for freshmen.

Added DeBoer: “Because he is also in the band, he will occasionally miss the latter part of a practice or something and ask, ‘Coach, is it okay if I get out of here early? I have a concert tonight?’ I’ll say, ‘Absolutely. Get out of here. Go do that stuff.’”

When it comes to his baseball life, which includes a highlight of winning the Hatboro 12U Little League championship, Craven has a unique niche on the team.

A base-running specialist he also provides the comic relief.

“That’s one of things that’s fun in baseball. In comparison to other sports, there’s a lot of down time,” he said. “I just talk a lot on the bench, we just have some fun. I would say that there’s not a guy on the team that I’m not close with. I’ve talked to these guys and I’ve played with every single one of these before this year.

“Also, there’s only like five seniors, and we are all really close.”

As for the season on the field, the Hatters are off to a slow start, but Craven is optimistic.

“I think we have a lot of talent on our team, and it’s super early,” he said. “If we start putting our bats on the ball, there is no telling what can happen.”

His coach, though, has a more than an inkling that Craven will go on to hit all the high notes with his post-baseball life.

A prime example is breaking down the barrier and going to college.

“That’s pretty cool,” said DeBoer. “It used to be, at least a generation ago, that nobody had gone to school in a family. That’s something you just don’t hear a lot of anymore. He recognizes that he can better himself and remained focused on that, so kudos to him.”