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 May 25, 2022.
When your last name is Hebron, running track is kind of like the family business. Let us count the ways: 1) Vaughn, Jr., was a high school hurdler at Dover High in Delaware and a football player who went on to do the latter at Lafayette. 2) Seloni Hebron ran the 400 and 800 for Neshaminy and continued running at Morgan State. 3) Savaughn Hebron was on the state-winning 4X400 at Neshaminy before moving on to Kutztown. 2) Savion Hebron, Savaughn’s twin, was on Neshaminy’s state-winning 4X400, the 200M indoor state champ and now runs at Penn State. If the surname Hebron sounds familiar, that’s because the family patriarch is Vaughn Hebron, Sr., who played in the NFL with the Eagles and then won two Super Bowl rings with the Denver Broncos. This brings us to the baby of the brood, Sanaa Hebron, who says she never felt it was required to join the family’s assembly line of track standouts “I wasn’t pressured at all,” she said. “I actually played soccer for eight years. My really close friend at the time started running club track. When I quit soccer, I thought I would give it a try, and I just stuck with it. I’m glad I did, but I was never pressured into it. It kind of just happened.”
The skillset, though, was never in doubt. “I first saw Sanaa run in eighth grade,” recalled Neshaminy coach Syd White. “She was, obviously, very talented. She had become one of the better runners in the state very early in her career.” At the recent PIAA Class AAA State Championships this spring, Hebron captured gold in the 300-meter hurdles and silver in the 200m dash. Now that the dust has settled on her scholastic career, Hebron will compete in the national U20 meet (with a chance for World U20 Meet in Colombia) and then move on to the University of Miami. “My college search was a really long process,” said Hebron. “It was between the University of Miami and UNC. Academically, they are all really prestigious colleges. What it really came down to was to the connection I had with the coaches. I felt they could best help with the type of path I’m going on with track.” That path would be her ultimate goal of the Olympics, and the Miami coach, Amy Deem, specializes in hurdles and coached the hurdlers in the 2012 Olympics. It is a lofty goal but not out of the realm of possibility. She is naturally gifted with speed, but she has made herself into one of the best runners in the country, in terms of the hurdles as well,” said White. “That’s a lot of credit to her, and also to the work her dad has done with her as well.”
Despite her scholastic success as a hurdler, Hebron believes she is just scratching the surface, as she has not been doing it for that long. “It was kind of out of nowhere,” she recalled. “Training-wise, I was running 800s to help with my 400s. I was supposed to run all out, but I didn’t want to die. My dad suggested I try the 400 hurdles because you are still going 400 meters but going over things. I was good at it, so I just kept doing it.” From there, everything just started falling into place. When she gets to college, where the workouts – on and off the track – will be more intense, they won’t come as a total shock. Hebron’s father has long-since been putting her through the paces that go above and beyond what is mandated by the high school coaches. “It’s very hard, with all different types of workouts and what-not, with recovery and stuff like that,” she said. “I call him my ‘doach,’ because he is my dad and my coach.”
In the time she has away from training and running, Hebron enjoys anime and writing poetry. “I really do love to write poems,” she said. “I kind of picked it up in 10th grade, when I took creative writing. They are really short, but I also think they can be real powerful.” Hebron, takes two AP classes (Psychology and Spanish) and honors English and carries a weighted GPA of 3.6. She is looking at becoming a registered nurse. “When COVID happened, I started doing more research and realized how much nurses are needed in this day and age,” she said. “It was interesting to me, and I always like to help people.”
To read Hebron’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/sanaa-hebron-00101103
Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete for week of May 25, 2022.
Being the coach’s kid tends to be a roller coaster of peaks and valleys, and Will Conlin’s experience was not much different. Will’s dad, Kevin, is the head football coach at Abington after a long stint as an assistant. In between those periods, Kevin took a breather to coach Will’s CYO football team in sixth grade, where Will got to experience getting chewed out in front of his teammates by Kevin, a former walk-on at Penn State in the mid-90s who ultimately earned a scholarship to play for Joe Paterno just as his older brothers Chris and Keith had. It couldn’t have been easy at the time, and both father and son admitted as much. But now? After a successful football career — as well as baseball and swimming careers — at Springfield Township, Will looks back on the tough love he received from Kevin as something that hardened him and turned him into the player he ultimately became.
“My dad didn’t like the ‘daddy ball’ thing, so he was extra hard on me over anything small or little, like me jogging during a sprint,” Will said. “He would pick me out and scream at me, but now I realize that made me what I am today. I’m proud that he’s my dad. It was always good to have him around, even when he was hard on me. When he’d drive me home from practice, he would just talk to me and not yell: ‘Here’s what you did wrong, and here’s how you fix it.’ As I got older, we’d watch film together. He started as a junior and senior at Penn State and was helped along by a lot of different coaches. He played offensive line and taught me how to block. Even though I play tight end, I’ve always thought I blocked well and that’s because he really helped me out with that.”
To his part, Kevin said coaching Will “reinvigorated” him as a coach. Much like Will did, Kevin acknowledged the difficulty of the dynamic while also finding ways to spin it into a positive experience. “It is a lot harder,” Kevin said. “You see something in your son and want to see him achieve, so maybe I pushed him a little harder, and the other kids can vouch for that. But now it’s something that he and I laugh about. It was a great opportunity, not just for him but also for me to get to coach him. I loved that time period. We bonded on those rides home where I could tell him how much he’s improved, which was a critical part of his development.”
Chris Shelley is the head football coach at Springfield and has been in charge of Will’s development since Kevin passed his son off once he got to high school. Shelley pointed out Will’s exceptional football IQ, which undoubtedly rubbed off from sharing a home with his father. “I wish that I had 100 Will Conlins,” Shelley said. “Some kids think they have all the answers, but with Will it was always, ‘Coach, how should I run this? What do you think of this? This route’s open, maybe we should look at this.’ I’m really going to miss his ability to communicate what he sees to me. He’s been a phenomenal worker for us: he was a late bloomer, but we always knew he had a great football IQ and a lot of potential. It just took him a little while to realize it in our program, but Will had a monster senior year.”
On the baseball field, Conlin came into his own as both a first baseman and pitcher. After not having a sophomore baseball season due to the pandemic, Conlin was right in the thick of things as a junior, helping guide Springfield to a division title and a runner-up finish in District One 4A. “Will seemed like a gentleman and scholar from the moment I met him his freshman year,” Springfield head baseball coach Dennis Primavera said. “He was always dedicated to what he was doing, and as a junior, he played great defense at first base and was an offensive force with his bat. And while all of those parts didn’t meld his senior year, to his credit he was there every day. If I had 20 players like him, it would be a pleasure.”
Whether it was Shelley, Primavera, his coaches in the pool or his own father, it’s clear that Conlin has been impacted by a plethora of intellectual coaching minds. As a result, he is bound for West Chester University in the fall, where he plans on studying Health & Physical Education in hopes that he will one day become a middle school P.E. teacher and coach.
To read Conlin’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/will-conlin-00101107
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