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 Dec. 7, 2021.
The true measure of an exceptional athlete is how they face adversity. After all, it’s easy to work hard and stay positive when a team is piling up victory after victory. It’s far more difficult to do so when a team struggles. Harry S Truman’s girls’ soccer team traditionally finds itself near the bottom of the league standings. This fall, the Tigers posted an 0-18 record, the second time in the last four years the team has finished with a winless season. But no matter the team’s record, no matter the upcoming opponent, no matter the score, coach Rachel Zawisza could always count on the dedication, leadership, and unmatched work ethic of Marissa Olsen. “Her ability to always give 100 percent to this team speaks to her passion about the game of soccer,” Zawisza said. “Marissa lives and breathes soccer. She was our best player on the field. She never acted like it, but she knew it because of the example she always set for her teammates. I’m grateful for her heart. Marissa always plays with a lot of heart. This was a really tough season for us, it was crushing at times. I can’t imagine how she felt, but she always gave everything she had. That’s a lot of grace as a 17-year-old athlete. I really admire her for that.”
For the four-year starter and two-year captain who also plays club soccer, the joy came not from the team’s position in the standings or from scoring goals. It came from spending time with friends and trying to help her teammates discover the love for the game to which she has devoted so much of her time and effort. “We want to play well and of course you want to see the results, but we really just want the team to have the love for the sport as well,” Olsen said. “I can say that I was the closest with the team my senior year than any other year I’ve been here. Everyone put all their effort forward, everyone knew how important this year was to the four seniors, and everyone wanted to put it to put it all together for the seniors. Obviously, you want to win some games, but I honestly think we did really good this year. This was my favorite season I’ve played, with the friendships we made and the way we played together.”
From the moment Olsen stepped onto the field for Truman as a freshman, Zawisza—then an assistant coach—knew the Tigers had something special, both in Olsen’s skill level and the way she presented herself. “When she started as a freshman, she was already one of the best players on the team. Other kids were already looking at her and trying to learn from her or lean on her, and that’s a lot of pressure on a kid that young,” Zawisza said. “Marissa never saw herself as the best player, but she played like the best player. She gave 110 percent every game, all four years.”
As a junior, Olsen officially took over the mantle as captain in what proved to be the team’s most successful season during her four years. Opting out of the fall season due to Covid, Truman played in the United 10 league in the spring against teams such as Cheltenham, Reading, Academy Park, Norristown, and Pennwood. The Tigers picked up five wins on the season and made the postseason for the first time. But returning to Suburban One League play this season put Truman back into a conference loaded with powerhouse teams with storied histories and solid middle school and community feeder leagues. Not only did Olsen battle through her senior campaign with no notches in the win column, but she often found herself out of her natural position, since her versatility allowed for her to play wherever the team needed her most. “Ideally I wanted her at center midfielder, but it didn’t work out that way,” Zawisza said. “I played her wherever I needed her to play, so she was center back for most of the games. If it was a close game, I tried to move her up to center mid or forward, just to try to get things going. But for the most part, she played center back because we needed her there. And she never once complained about playing that position. She knew what needed to be done and how to do it. A lot of times, you can see the frustration on an athlete’s face when they’re not playing their natural position. Marissa never did that, she understood the task and gave 110 percent no matter where she was playing.”
Olsen is still working on narrowing down her college choices. She’s hoping to find a school where she can play varsity soccer and is looking to study exercise science with her eye potentially on a career as a pediatric physical therapist.
To read Olsen’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/marissa-olsen-0097936
Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete for week of Dec. 7, 2021.
Christian Matt is one cool customer on the golf course. Coach Dan Hugenbruch still marvels when he recalls the Wissahickon senior’s amazing finish on day two of the District One 3A Tournament at Turtle Creek. Barring a miracle, Matt – who qualified for the state tournament as a junior – appeared destined to miss the cut this time around. “That was one of the craziest golf rounds of my life,” Matt said. “Through 13 holes I was six over for the round, eight over for the event. I think the cut was four over, so I was four back. I was like, ‘I don’t know, I might not make states,’ but my mom was out there watching. I was like, ‘I can’t give up. This is my last chance to ever play in a state championship as a junior golfer. I talked to my coach a little bit on the 13th tee. He was like, ‘Keep your chin up, you’ve got holes left.’ I guess the putts started falling. I started hitting good shots, and one thing led to another, and I birdied four of the last five holes.”
The qualifying cut for the PIAA 3A State Tournament was 150. Matt shot a 148, thanks to his remarkable finish. “I’ve coached different sports for 19 years, and back in the day coaching football with Upper Dublin, I got to be part of the staff when we beat North Penn for the District One championship,” Hugenbruch said. “So there are some phenomenal things I’ve gotten to witness, but from an individual standpoint, just seeing one kid being able to mentally engage in that situation and go after it – it was so cool to watch.” The Trojans’ coach remembers his exchange with Matt on the 13th tee. “I was just really trying to get him to not think about anything specific, just relax, play golf and have fun,” Hugenbruch said. “One of the other seniors in the group said, ‘This is the last round for seniors,’ and Christian was like, ‘No, it’s not.’ He ended up birdying four of the last five holes. It was just insane to see it. He putted to birdie 18. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen as a coach.”
Ask Matt the key to remaining calm under pressure, and he admits it did require a change in mindset. “I used to be immature in those settings,” he said. “One bad shot, and it would really put my mood off, but I learned you can’t let those tough shots get to you. You’ve just got to look for the next one. Also, before very nerveracking putts that I need to make I just think, ‘I’m lucky to be out here, it’s not that big of a deal if I miss it.’ You’ve got to be able to take the tough shots if you want to be competitive in golf.”
According to his coach, Matt is made of all the right stuff for a sport that requires mental toughness. “I think he’s a good athlete, but his personality overall – he’s relaxed, he’s personable,” Hugenbruch said. “I’d put the younger kids with him so they could see him play just because he’s relaxed. You could see him hit a bad shot, and he’ll just put his club in the bag and not slam anything, not have those little knee jerk reactions that most of us do, especially in the golf world even just slamming the golf head down. He wasn’t projecting that at all, so I put the younger kids with him just so they could see how he approaches things, how he went about club selection and shots and things like that. He would talk to the kids. In golf, you don’t see a ton of interaction, but kids walking the fairways – they’re always chatting, having a good time. I really never got the idea that he couldn’t be with certain people or needed to be with one kid. He was more or less the person who set the tone for the whole group.”
Matt advanced to districts all four years. Freshman year, he did not advance to the second day of districts. Sophomore year, he advanced to regionals. Junior and senior year he advanced to states. As a senior, he captured the SOL Tournament title. This past summer Matt won a qualifier for Junior Worlds in California. Golf will be part of Matt’s future. He will continue his career at St. Joseph’s University, a late entry on the scene. “Right when I stepped on campus, I was like, ‘This is where I want to be.’ I had such a good time. I connected with the team really well. It's going to be such a good four years. I'm so excited." Matt plans to pursue a business major with a focus on finance.
To read Matt’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/christian-matt-0097938