Pennsbury's Oseredzuk & Pennridge's Velez were Named Univest Featured Athletes

Thanks to our continued partnership with Univest Financial, will once again recognize a male and female featured athlete each week. The recognition is given to seniors of high character who are students in good standing that have made significant contributions to their teams or who have overcome adversity. Selections are based on nominations received from coaches, athletic directors and administrators.

Univest’s Featured Female Athlete

Jaclyn Oseredzuk, in many ways, is your typical student-athlete. A four-year veteran of Neshaminy’s field hockey program, the now senior was a member of the jayvee squad as a freshman and sophomore and the varsity the last two years. Oseredzuk, an excellent student, is not a star, but she is a key reserve for a Redskin squad with high expectations. “It didn’t matter if it was jayvee or varsity but especially now on the varsity level, she knows what her role is,” Neshaminy field hockey coach Jamie Pinto said. “She always wants to improve, she’s a hard worker, and even if she’s not on the field, she wants the best for the girls. She’s very mature, and she’s a good communicator, which is why I think the girls like her. Even as an underclassman, she always had a presence about her. She’s student council president, she’s a gym night captain. She’s just a natural leader.”

Oseredzuk’s maturity may stem, at least in part, from the fact that she was faced with an unimaginable tragedy when her 16-year-old brother, Phillip, drowned in a kayaking accident at the end of his sophomore year. Jaclyn was in eighth grade at the time. “I think what’s so special about her is when something tragic happens, especially at a young age, people could go down different paths, and she’s just been strong and continued to live her life and helps others when needed,” Pinto said. “Nothing has really slowed her down. She’s motivated.” To ensure that Phil’s memory would live on and to assist families who have also lost a child, the Oseredzuk family established the Live Like Phil Foundation. Jaclyn has actively worked with the foundation in countless ways since it was established.

The foundation works closely with Hayden’s House of Healing, a retreat house in New Jersey started by a mother who also lost her son. Jaclyn and her mother, Lynn, attended a mother-daughter retreat at Hayden’s House, and this past spring, Jaclyn hosted a retreat for daughters of families who lost a child, planning all the activities and serving as a group leader. “That has got to be by far – through the foundation and everything I’ve gone through – one of the most mind-changing things I’ve ever done because I wanted to be able to give back what that place gave me,” Jaclyn said. “I’m never going to be able to explain how they helped me in so many ways going to their retreats. But being able to see those girls grow and develop through their journey just in three days from being able to have such a great environment around them and me being able to be the person to help them has changed my perspective so much.” It’s been a remarkable journey for Oseredzuk, who has found a way to move from tragedy to healing to now helping others in a similar situation.

Despite a packed schedule, Oseredzuk has a course load that includes honors and AP classes. She plans to major in nursing but is undecided on a college. “What sparked my interest in nursing is the time I had to spend in the hospital around nurses through my life,” she said. “I was born with a cleft lip and palate, so I always needed to have a strong and nice group of people working with me. This made me want to give back what those nurses gave to me. Make someone feel how they made me feel.” Wherever Oseredzuk – who has not ruled out competing in sports at the club level – lands next fall, that school will be inheriting a remarkable student-athlete. “She’s just a great kid,” Pinto said. “She does all this side work – she doesn’t talk about it a lot, and it doesn’t define her, but I know she does it. All the money their foundation raise goes to families that are grieving. They reach out to other families, and Jackie is a big part of that. You would never know she does all of this, and that’s one of the most special things about her – it was such a tragedy, and here she is – a high school student, reaching out and helping other families. She’s special in what she does.”

To read Oseredzuk’s complete profile, please click on the following link:

Univest’s Featured Male Athlete

It’s a story that’s made its rounds but somehow never gets old. How Shane Velez happened to be with his older sisters when their parents dropped them off on day one of Pete Valimont’s youth soccer camp. Instead of leaving with his parents, the then five-year-old stayed and participated in the camp. “His parents said, ‘Are you sure? We shouldn’t leave him here,’” recalled Valimont. I said, ‘No, leave him. I’ll watch him.’ We joke about it to this day. He’s five years old, and he’s spending three hours a day from nine till noon for five days. I have a five-year-old right now – my kid would last about 45 minutes, and he stayed the full time.”

Velez doesn’t remember any of it, but he’s heard the story more times than he can count. “I find it so funny that I was put in the camp at five years old – I think the next youngest might have been a 9- or 10-year old,” the Pennridge senior said. “My older sister was in high school at the time. My dad knew Valimont, and he offered the camp to us. I was just out there having fun playing a sport I love.” That’s one thing that hasn’t changed. Velez is still passionate about soccer. “I always loved the sport,” he said. “There’s always going to be a few moments where – maybe after a loss or an injury you start questioning. I always found – when I’m on the field, I’m always happy. I’m always looking forward to going to practice, and the connections you make being on a sports team are always great.”

If Velez needed a reminder how much the sport meant to him, he got one in eighth grade when – while playing for his middle school team – he broke his femur. “It was really muddy, and I was running side by side with an opponent at the top of the eighteen,” Velez recalled. “I slipped, causing myself to fall and tripped the other guy who ended up falling on top of my leg, breaking my femur.
“I was in a full leg cast for about six weeks and then slowly began rehab with a leg brace. It took about two months out of the cast until I was able to walk completely unaided by crutches or a brace. Then the three-month process of regaining my strength and endurance began with rehab. It sucked to be sidelined, but I think being sidelined has made me cherish the game of soccer even more. I got to watch from a coach’s perspective and help out my teammates in ways I have never done before. The journey of breaking my femur was a difficult one but one that I do not regret. It taught me so much about myself and what I am capable of. It might sound weird to say but I think breaking my femur helped improve my game both mentally and physically because of how much it made me grow as a person.”

This fall, Velez, a two-year captain, is on the preseason All-American watch list, and next year, he will take his talents to the Division 1 level at the University of Massachusetts. “He’s probably one of the top three players I’ve ever come in contact with in the program since I’ve been here,” said Valimont, who is in his 15th year. “When I say that, I mean not just soccer skill-wise and IQ but a good person, smart kid and great teammate. He is the absolute full package. UMass has an absolute steal of a kid in Shane.”

An excellent student, Velez has taken several AP classes and numerous honors classes. Velez is active with his church youth group when his schedule permits, and he helps his father coach youth soccer. “I do enjoy being able to teach kids and watch them progress from where they started to where they are now,” he said. If the opportunity to play professional soccer presented itself, Velez said he would seize the opportunity, but for now, he’s focused on his final high school season, a season of high expectations. “I’m so excited,” Velez said. “All summer I was just thinking about when high school was going to start and how much success we can have and how much fun it’s going to be

To read Velez’s complete profile, please click on the following link: