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 March 29, 2022.
It’s true, what they say, that banners fly forever. At some point inside Hatboro-Horsham High School, that will be the case for the 2021-22 girls swim team, winner of the 2022 PIAA 3A state championship. But what those banners fail to mention is all of the time and effort that went into the quest for gold, which started way before this past November. In some ways, it started all the way back when Vivi Vergara was 6 years old, when she first began competitive swimming for the Hatboro-Horsham Aquatic Association (HHAA). As founder of HHAA, George “Kip” Emig — who would later serve as Vergara’s varsity swim coach at the high school level — was there, and before long, future Hatter senior teammates like Hannah Parker and Sara Bozzomo were too. They couldn’t have known it at the time, but those early swims at HHAA served as laying a foundation for things to come.
The swim team began becoming a family more than a decade ago, and along the way, new members such as Annie and Kathy Jia, Sarah Parker (Hannah’s sister) and Emmy Erikson joined an already tight-knit unit. So, yes, while the state championship the Hatters won was the cherry on top of the proverbial sundae, what really will have the most long-lasting impact is the bonds that were molded and welded along the way. “What I’ll hold most dear to my heart is the relationships formed and the friends made,” said Vergara, the Hatters’ outspoken leader who never stops pumping her teammates up in conversation. “What’s really cool to me is that we are all very different, individual people who became these incredible friends. The bonds you make, that’s what’s going to be most difficult being away from in the future, because those are the most important things that you take with you when you leave.”
The fact that Vergara and her teammates won the swim program’s first state championship — and first of any state title for any athletic program at the school in quite a while — makes it all just a little bit sweeter. And, by all accounts, Vergara is the super glue, the adhesive that holds this entire thing together. While many high school student-athletes are described by coaches as quiet, introverted leaders who lead by example, Vergara represents something of an inverse case. Of course, she still leads through example and action. Emig said Vergara is one of the hardest workers he has ever coached in more than three-plus decades in the sport, but on top of that, she is never shy in using her voice, especially when it comes to convincing her teammates that every single one of them has what it takes to become a state champion. “With Vivi, it’s the same formula as any successful athlete: she works hard. She’s a workhorse in practice, in dry land workouts, weight training, nutrition…she is huge on all of that, and vocally tells the other girls that it’s the key to getting better,” Emig said. “She’s so locked into the sport that she just works and works and works. The entire team was candy, soda and junk food-free for the final five weeks of the season this year. Everybody was so locked in this year, and I really believe it was because of Vivi. She is very intelligent and willing to use her voice to put it all out there. Her sense of discipline, drive and desire, it never stops.” In addition to providing leadership, Vergara was a key member of the Hatters’ state championship 200 free and 400 free relays.
Now that high school swimming is behind her with multiple gold medals in tow, Vergara shifts her attention to the next big challenge, and it’s a doozy: once she finishes up at Hatboro, she will be on her way to Annapolis, Maryland, to swim for the United States Naval Academy. Part of the draw of swimming is the intense discipline, structure and equal parts mental and physical aptitude that the sport requires. When considering how faithful Vergara is to her training regiment, how serious she is about her studies and how important being a leader in her school community is to her, then she seems like a natural fit for a school like Navy that will demand a lot from its student-athletes. “This is the place I wanted to be. It’s a challenging environment, but one I saw myself succeeding in,” Vergara said. “The school is very regimented and value-based.” By Vergara’s count, she’s racked up 13 advanced placement courses at Hatboro, and she is also involved in leadership for multiple clubs at the school: Future Business Leaders of America, National Honors Society and student council are chief among them. She’s also really into art, wants to learn a new language and is a good juggler (both literally and figuratively). It’s been a remarkably accomplished – and busy - high school experience, and Vergara wouldn’t have it any other way.
To read Vergara’s complete profile, please click on the following link:https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/viviana-vergara-0099576
Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete for week of March 29, 2022.
Callan Fang is finally back where he belongs … standing 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate. For the first time since his freshman year, the Pennsbury senior will take to the mound this spring for the Falcons. It’s been a long and winding road for Fang, whose sophomore baseball season was cancelled due to the pandemic, and an arm injury relegated him to designated hitter during his junior year. “It means a lot to be able to pitch again,” Fang said. “Last year, I couldn’t perform how I know I could due to the injury, so I’m super-stoked to go back out and compete. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The beginning of baseball season always brings feelings of hope and renewal, and Fang and his teammates have plenty of reasons to be hopeful this year. A senior-laden team with eight players who have already committed to playing baseball in college and coming off an atypical season in which the Falcons finished with a .500 record and missed the postseason, this year’s Pennsbury squad has the talent, experience, and motivation to make some noise in the league, district, and state. Having the right-hander back to 100 percent will be a major piece of the puzzle. The team’s recent getaway to Myrtle Beach for some team bonding and a few preseason games showed Fang is primed and ready to go. “We took it slow to make sure he was ready,” said Pennsbury baseball coach Joe Pesci. “We went down south to Myrtle Beach, and he was able to let loose a little. He was looking comfortable out there, his velocity was up – you could see his comfort level on the mound. Selfishly, I’m happy having him back and having several solid starters, but for him, to have that peace of mind to know he can go out there and pitch the way he wants to and make an impact and be healthy, I’m really happy for him.”
This season, Fang and his fellow classmates will be counted upon to contribute in another way as well. The experienced senior class will be leading the way as the Falcons aim to take flight. Fortunately, there’s a good mix of personalities among the veteran players. “Callan is a leader in his own right,” Pesci said. “He’s a guy who fits in with everybody. He’s quiet, but he’s funny, he comes from a really good family. Obviously, he’s very intelligent and analytical, meticulous, and he’s very even-keeled, he never gets too high or too low. Having that personality on the team can be very valuable.”
Fang’s love of the game and longtime desire to play in college was sparked by his father, who also played college ball. “My dad played college baseball, but I didn’t realize how big of a deal that was,” Fang said. “I think I always figured it would happen, but I got really serious about it when I was 15. I made a travel team and that changed my mindset, too. Instead of just playing local guys, I was getting out and competing with better players, playing against better teams, and getting recruited to play in college.” Fang was a pretty good ball player long before age 15, though. Among his many accolades was finishing first nationally in his age group at MLB’s Pitch, Hit & Run competition in eighth grade, where he competed as part of the 2018 MLB All-Star Game festivities at Nationals Park (he also got to perform at Citizens Bank Park during the competition).
Fang has also thoroughly enjoying simply being a student at Pennsbury, where he is a member of the Chess team, the Young Engineers of America, and the Future Business Leaders of America. After all, when you’ve had parts of two school years affected by the pandemic and two spring sports seasons drastically altered, you come to appreciate the little things even more. “Everything can change in an instant,” Fang said. “Sometimes school is not the most fun, but I’m enjoying the little moments with friends in the hallways, having lunch with them, things like that. I’m not looking ahead yet. I want to enjoy my time here. I’ve loved high school so much, I don’t think I want it to end, I just want to enjoy it. It’s crazy to think there are only a few months left.”
Nonetheless, Fang has a lot to look forward to. In the fall, he will head to Harvard University to play baseball and pursue a degree in data science or applied statistics … possibly. He admits that his field of study could change at any moment. “Being able to compete in high-level baseball while getting a high-level education is something really special,” Fang said. “I think Harvard gives students a platform to do great things. One of my close friend’s uncle went there to play, and hearing him talking about his experience, and the opportunities to change the world, it all came together. It was the right decision for me.”
To read Fang’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/callan-fang-0099579