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 Sept. 14, 2021
Ask Maddie Dunlop about her activities – in school and out, and the list is endless. To name just a few, the Springfield Township senior is a captain of the cheerleading squad, the vice president of student council and the student representative to the Springfield Township school board. She is the dance captain for school musicals and is involved in unified track. It was Dunlop who kicked off the school year with one of the opening speeches at the virtual convocation for faculty and staff on Sept. 2. “She reached absolutely the whole district – every teacher, every staff member, and her words were captivating,” said Nicolle Schrage, the unified track coach at Springfield Township. “She inspired everyone to get back into a school year after lots of remote learning and to dig deep. She was like, ‘Come on, let’s do this.’ She is a natural leader, and she does it intuitively.”
Interestingly, Dunlop would not be involved in any of those activities, nor would she find herself in a leadership role had it not been for a difficult decision she made when she entered high school. That’s when Dunlop decided to give up competitive dance. “I competed every single day of my life,” she said. “I went to dance for hours on end, practically lived at the studio. I brought my breakfast, lunch and dinner. When I got home from school, that’s where I was at every single day, so I practically lived at the studio. My teachers were practically my moms at the time, so it was kind of my whole life. Everything was at the studio. I still went to Springfield but everything besides was at the studio.” The decision to walk away from dance was not made without serious consideration. “I actually ended (dance) in the middle of my eighth grade year,” Dunlop said. “I wanted to be in all the shows at the school, and after the high schoolers came down into the middle school to talk about all their clubs and activities, I found out that I wanted to explore a little bit more. Trying to hang out with my friends was difficult, so I was not really having as many friends in school as I was at dance. I realized that through the emotional ride of it that probably trying not to dance for a half year was the way. I took off the second half of the year hoping to find out if I wanted to jump back in dance freshman year.”
Dunlop made the decision to leave her dance world. “It was a heartbreaking experience doing that,” she said. “There are times where I definitely do regret it, especially going back and watching my friends I used to dance with. Now that I’m involved in cheer, I’m involved in every single show at school and almost 10 activities, I don’t have time for it. I’ve found other things that I love that complete me and my life as a whole.” Springfield Township High School does not take Dunlop’s contributions for granted. “She is super involved and helps the school whenever possible,” athletic director Joe Ferraro said. “Anytime we are looking for student input around the school, she is the go-to kid for us. She is connected to our school community, and she has a great pulse for every student here. She speaks at our (school) board meetings, she meets with the superintendent, she regularly communicates with our administration at the high school. There isn’t a nicer kid on the planet.”
Ariana Bernstein is in her second year as coach cheer at Springfield. Dunlop made an immediate impression. “Right off the bat, she struck me as definitely one of the most mature juniors on the team, and she was a leader from day one,” the Spartans’ coach said. “It was never a question she was going to be named a captain this year, and I actually named her one of the captains last week. Maddie is extremely organized. She sometimes has a better idea of what’s going on and things I need to be doing than I do – but always in a good way. She is extremely kind and respectful. She is just an absolute joy to have at practice. She’s a great addition to have on my team.” Dunlop’s future will include attending college and majoring communication sciences and disorders in with a minor in sign language. Cheer may or may not be part of her future. “I really hope so, but I’m not sure – it’s either going to be cheer or theater,” Dunlop said. “It really depends on the school I’m going to.”
To read Dunlop’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/maddie-dunlop-0096311
Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete for week of Sept. 14, 2021
Football is something of a family affair for Brayden Porter. His father, Chuck Porter, was a standout football player at Souderton and is a coach of the freshman team. His uncle, Matt Freed (his mother’s brother), also had a stellar career at Souderton and went on to earn every accolade in the book during a remarkable four-year career at East Stroudsburg University. “I never got to see Chuck play, but Brayden’s running style reminds me a lot of Matt Freed,” Souderton coach Ed Gallagher said. “There are a lot of times I watch Brayden run, and he reminds me so much of Matt.” For Porter, it’s high praise indeed to be compared to a player that was named to three different All-American teams and was the only defensive player in the nation (Freed was a linebacker) on the regional ballot for the Harlon Hill Award given to the top player in Division II. “When Matt was in college, I was four or five, so I don’t remember him playing, but as I grew up, I heard the stories,” Porter said. “I got to hear about him and how good he was.” One thing for certain, Porter inherited a passion for football that runs deep in his family. “I grew up watching football on Saturdays and Sundays, college and NFL, just growing up loving the game, just learning how to play, learning all about it,” he said. “I learned to love it. It was part of me just to go out and watch and play it.”
The Souderton senior began to leave his mark last fall in his team’s run to an SOL Continental Conference and the program’s first ever District One 6A title. “It was crazy,” he said. “We didn’t even know if we would have a season. We finally were told we’d have a shortened season, and we said, ‘Okay, we just have to win five games so we can get in the playoffs and get at least one or two more games.’ We did that, and once we got to the playoffs, we just kept going, and we were rolling. We had no idea what would happen, we had no idea if we would get shut down randomly – it was just fun playing every week and just going out knowing not every day is guaranteed, so we had to come out and play our best and just go from there.” In the Indians’ first game of the season against Quakertown last fall, Porter, the team’s starting linebacker, was thrust into a prominent role out of the backfield when then senior Jalen White was injured. He became an immediate contributor, and in both of his team’s district playoff games, he ran for over 100 yards and scored several touchdowns. “Brayden’s progression has been excellent,” Gallagher said. “Honestly, we knew he was going to be really good last year. We saw the kind of running style he had. The kid has been a really good running back his whole life – it was just trying to find the right spot for him. We expected him to be our main ball carrier this year.”
In the season’s early weeks, the script did not exactly go as planned. In Souderton’s season opener at North Penn, Porter – a team captain - suffered a shoulder injury. “On the third or fourth play, I got tackled from behind and I landed on my shoulder,” he said. “I could just feel it walking back to the huddle, and after the next play, it started bothering me and I knew something was up.” Porter was sidelined the remainder of the game – a 42-27 loss in a game the Indians led 17-14 at the half. Porter saw some action the following week carrying the football in a shutout win over Harry S Truman. A week later in a win over Council Rock North, he gave glimpses of the player Gallagher envisioned when the season started. “Brayden had two spectacular runs for touchdowns in the second quarter that opened up the game a little bit,” the Indians’ coach said. “The first run he made someone miss in the hole, made a cut and just exploded. He really showed off his speed, which was impressive. The other run he just ran like a man possessed. He was getting close to the end zone and just carried a couple of people in. It was really a sight to see.”
Described as a leader by example by Gallagher, Porter takes those leadership qualities into the school setting where he has been a member of the LINK Crew, a select group of upperclassmen who help ease the transition to high school for freshmen as well as helping students wherever needed. He is also a member of the school’s Athletic Leadership Council. Although uncertain of his plans for next year, he is looking to attend college and major in business. Football will most certainly be part of his future.
To read Porter’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/brayden-porter-0096364
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