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 for week of Feb. 23, 2022.
Ask Liz Potash what Elise Duffy meant to the Central Bucks East basketball team this year, and the Patriots’ coach looks no further than her team’s recent opening round District One 6A game against PAC champion Spring-Ford. “That game is absolutely the epitome of what she’s done,” Potash said. “We were down 13-0, and Elise goes on an 8-0 run with two 3s and a layup. She didn’t even average eight points a game last year – she averaged under five, but for us this year, that’s pretty much what she did from the beginning.” Duffy finished with a game high 18 points, keeping the underdog Patriots in the contest until the final horn in a 42-37 loss. Impressive by any standard but especially considering that her role for three years had been as a defensive stopper.
A soccer player first, the role of defensive specialist seemed custom made for the naturally gifted athlete who will continue her soccer career at Drexel University. Scoring points? That wasn’t important. Until this year, that is. With the loss to graduation of four all-league starters from last year’s SOL Colonial Division championship squad, including Emily Chmiel who is excelling at Chestnut Hill College, the Patriots - with four new starters and Duffy - were without a proven scorer. What Duffy did this year was more than Potash could have possibly imagined. The senior captain averaged 13 points (sharing team scoring honors with Anna Barry) and a team high 7.4 rebounds, 3.2 deflections and 2.2 steals. Good enough to earn first team honors in a strong SOL Colonial Division after not receiving so much as a mention last year. “I don’t even know what to say about her at this point because I am so blown away,” Potash said. “I can’t even put into words what she did for us this year. I told her mom – what happened this year is one of the coolest things I’ve seen as a head coach at East.”
Duffy’s accomplishments on the soccer field were equally – if not more - impressive as she scored 17 goals and assisted on 16 others to lead the Patriots to a share of their first SOL Colonial Division title and first trip to the state tournament since 2015. A first team all-league honoree and team MVP, Duffy, according to her coach, is one of those players every team needs. “You wish you could have 50 (players like Duffy) and just play every sport possible,” East coach Jake Nesteruk said. “What’s so cool about her is the simple stuff, the soft skills – she’s a good teammate, she works her butt off, she’s respectful, she’s coachable, and somehow that’s made a Division 1 athlete in one sport and potentially a very serious Division 3 athlete in a second sport if she wanted to. It’s crazy.”
In Drexel University, Duffy found the best of all worlds, and she committed in October of 2021. “It gave me the major I wanted while also having a chance to play soccer,” she said. “I was focused on academics first and looking for what would give me the best chance of having success in the future. Drexel just checked all the boxes.” Duffy’s final high school soccer season pretty much checked all the boxes as well. “This year meant the world to me honestly,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for a better senior year and ending. For the first time in my past four years going to districts and just getting to do it with all my best friends. It was just so special. We were one big family, and we didn’t care who was on the field at any point – we were all going to play for each other and just keep pushing to get as far as we could.”
Away from the athletic arena, Duffy is a member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish Honor Society and she is part of class council. She volunteers every Sunday morning in the CCD program at her church, and she referees basketball for CBAA. Duffy gives back as a volunteer through the National Charity League. “She is the nicest, kindest, most caring person,” Potash said. “She’s very welcoming to all the underclassmen. The fact that you see how hard she works, and she gets this determination about her – the other kids see it and respect it.” Added Nesteruk, “She’s one of those kids you look at and say – I don’t think she fully realizes how much of an impact she’s made. She gets the weight of the soccer component, but long term when kids look at just how much of a work ethic and how much is expected of high school athletes and then add the humility to it – I really don’t think she’ll realize the benefit and the weight that she’s carried for both sports. To do it in two sports, you don’t see it nowadays. You really don’t.”
To read Duffy’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/elise-duffy-0099195
Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete for week of Feb. 23, 2022.
It’s not uncommon for young athletes, and basketball players in particular, to want to achieve their dreams in order to make sure mom never has to work another day in her life. Cheltenham senior guard Eli Walker falls into that category too. But unlike, say, Kevin Durant or LeBron James, Walker has different plans than making it to the NBA in order to give back to the woman that brought him into the world. Those plans will hopefully culminate in the form of a diploma that bears three words: Doctor Elias Walker. Walker’s vision to alleviate his mother’s stress and hardships has him playing basketball while he pursues his undergraduate degree — right now the leader for his services is Division-III Wilkes University — before ultimately moving on to earn his doctorate in either Physical Therapy or Pharmaceutical Studies. While it’s taken some time to come into focus, Walker sees his aspirations clearly on the horizon.
There’s still work to be done on the basketball court for a Cheltenham team having a historically unprecedented successful season, but no matter where Walker is or what he’s doing, his mama is always on his mind. “My big motivation is her, because she instilled all of this in me since kindergarten, just making sure I’m working hard and staying on top of my stuff,” Walker said. “It starts with her. Everything I do comes with her in mind. I love that woman to death, and if I need to put myself in a great position for her, then that’s what I’m going to do. I don’t have a father around, just father figures, so it’s always been me and her. She motivates me in all aspects of my life. I can go to her for anything, any kind of advice I need. There was a time when I didn’t really believe in myself. Sports in general take a toll on you mentally when things don’t go your way, and I’ve always had her there to keep me grounded. And I never let my grades go down because she stays on top of those too.”
She is doing a fantastic job as Walker’s overseer, as Cheltenham’s starting point guard also boasts a composite grade-point average north of 4.0. Patrick Fleury, Walker’s head coach, said Walker already had enough credits to graduate coming into his senior year, which would have allowed him to take it easier on himself in his final year of high school. Instead, Walker did the opposite, loading up on classes like Probability & Statistics, Sports Leadership and Honors English. Walker is quiet by nature, a deep, cerebral thinker who is obsessed with undertaking big challenges. He never takes shortcuts: in the classroom, on the basketball court or just life in general. “He has so many other interests in life, so he’s not just a one-trick basketball pony,” Fleury said. “Eli embodies everything about the commitment, sacrifice and dedication we ask of our players. Without question, in eight years he will be Dr. Walker, unless he decides to do something else.”
Walker may not be a doctor just yet, but he has been surgical in carving up opponents on the court for Cheltenham this season. Walker has been a full-time varsity starter since his junior year but has been in the program all four of his seasons. Cheltenham has won a lot since Walker’s freshman season: in that period, the Panthers are 82-15 overall, so the fact that they were unbeaten in late February wasn’t that outside the realm of normalcy. Walker is not the Panthers’ leading scorer, and his points per game average of 7.0 is relatively modest. He pulls down almost five rebounds a game despite standing 5-foot-10, while also adding four assists and 2.5 steals per night. Not only that, but Walker is an elite, ferocious defender with next-level quickness and intelligence on both ends of the court. “He could average 14 to 18 points per game, but he expends his energy elsewhere to make sure his teammates succeed,” Fleury said, before rattling off all the ways Walker impacts a game. “He gets downhill, makes plays for others, defends and rebounds at a very high level. He’s a guy who sacrifices for the betterment of our team. Eli is a jack-of-all-trades, and who he is and what he stands for is the reason for the success we’ve had. The heart and soul of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”
Of course, Walker’s stock is still rising. This chapter is still just the beginning of his story, one that will take him to Wilkes in northeast Pennsylvania, or perhaps another school that hasn’t entered the picture yet. Wherever he lands, basketball will be a part of it, but not the most important one, which really is no different than his current circumstances. Walker deeply respects the student part of student-athlete, because if he dogged it in the classroom then that would be letting his mother down, an unacceptable option. So, whether it’s Wilkes or somewhere else, Walker’s decision will come down to what else the institution can offer him beyond basketball. Anything else is a nonstarter. “Wilkes has my major, so right now it’s the best opportunity,” he said. “It’s the best of both worlds because I can still play basketball to keep me on the go and stay out of trouble in college. School and basketball take up my whole life,” which is exactly how Walker prefers things to be.
To read Walker’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/elias-walker-0099185