UM's Naik and North Penn's Stewart Named Univest Featured Athletes 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 Featured Female Athlete for week of Nov. 16, 2021.


WWRD. It’s an acronym that hasn’t taken off just yet. In fact, it hasn’t gone any further than a mention by Upper Moreland coach Lisa Benvenuto at the exit interviews for her players at the close of this fall’s soccer season. “I said to the girls – we might have to get bracelets made up with WWRD – what would Reva do?” Benvenuto said. “Just so everybody could keep that in mind.” While it's unlikely the UM coach will be ordering bracelets, her point was well taken - Reva Naik had that much of an impact on the soccer team this fall.I spoke to her parents on Senior Night, and I said to her mom just how fortunate I feel that I had some Reva in my life,” Benvenuto said of her senior captain. “Is she the best player on our team? No, she’s not, and she knows that, but was she pivotal in the success we had both as a team and our wins and losses and our character? Absolutely. The soccer team this year had a buzz about it and a feeling we haven’t had in a very long time. They are by far the closest group we’ve ever coached, and that has a lot to do with Reva and our other seniors. That’s what they were pushing. I say to them all the time – we rely on each other, we depend on each other. It doesn’t matter where you fall in this lineup. That’s everybody, and Reva lived that.” While there’s no mistaking Naik played a role in creating the team’s unique bond, it’s even more than that. “She makes everybody feel seen, she makes everybody feel heard,” Benvenuto said. “Responsible is an understatement, driven is an understatement, motivated is an understatement. She’s really quite remarkable.”


Naik has been a three-sport athlete since she was a freshman, competing in soccer, basketball and track. She has been competing in track since seventh grade, and this year she will forego basketball and compete in indoor track. The SOL Freedom Division champion in the 100-meter hurdles last spring, she finished third in both triple and long jump and played an integral role in the Golden Bears capturing the division title, but Naik is hardly satisfied. “She has been on me almost weekly about various drills and how and what we are going to do to get the most out of her senior season,” UM track coach Doug Smith said. “Reva knows that she has the potential to compete at the next level and is going to let nothing get in her way. She’s been getting some looks, talking to various schools, but like I’ve told her, you don’t look at schools for track, you look at schools for what it benefits you most at the next level, and she’s doing that.” Naik has her sights set high for her final go-round in high school track. She came in with decent form, but she’s worked hard and really honed her craft,” Smith said. “She’s looking to repeat this year in the hurdles and hoping to make districts come spring track. I think she’s actually going to amaze herself really because if she puts her mind to it, she’s going to be great.” Naik has been named a captain for indoor track this winter. “I have no doubt she’ll also be one of the captains for spring track,” Smith said. “She’s a hard worker, she just wants to get better, and everybody loves her.”


An honors student, Naik’s course load last year included four AP classes, and she is taking three more this year. In addition to an ambitious course load, she is participating in the Allied Health program at Eastern Center for Arts and Technology, which includes a dual enrollment Medical Terminology course through Montgomery County Community College. Naik is undecided on a college but plans to major in neuroscience or biochemistry with her sights set on attending medical school. Beyond the academics, she is the head of a branch of one of the committees for UM’s Mini-THON. She is secretary of the National Honor Society and vice president of class council. She is one of many CPESA student ambassadors, promoting cultural awareness. Somehow, Naik finds time to tutor at the Kumon Math and Reading Center of Hatboro two days a week. This fall, Naik was voted Homecoming Queen, underscoring the respect she has earned from her peers. “She is literally one of the nicest kids that I have ever had the privilege to coach,” Benvenuto said. “She has been inherently good her entire life. When you look up ‘good’ in the dictionary, that’s Reva. She spans all of the different social groups of the high school. I don’t think anybody could say one bad thing about her.”


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


Univest’s Featured Male Athlete for week of Nov. 16, 2021.


There are a lot of things Alex Stewart is not, but they also help make him what he is. The North Penn senior, a co-captain of the boys' soccer team this fall, was never the biggest, the strongest, the swiftest, the most dynamic or most prolific player on the field from his first varsity experience as a sophomore to his final game. None of that mattered because as long as there was time on the clock, Stewart would not give up - on a play, on a teammate, on a game. Many talented players have gone through the Knights program over the years, several earning major accolades and some going on to college, but they didn't do it the way Alex Stewart did it. "I've been thinking about it a lot, every year since I've been on varsity, it was a very different year," Stewart said. "Sophomore year for our state final run, we were the top dog, and it was our job to hold the throne pretty much, the next year was different, it was a weird year (with the COVID-19 pandemic) and no one knew if we were going to be good or not. This year, no one knew if we would be any good and facing adversity like that and with what we accomplished going against that, I feel like it's something to be proud of."


Stewart took whatever role he was given or the team needed him to play from a reserve to spell starters when he was a sophomore, a starter as a junior and finally team captain this past fall. Along the way, he also made sure to soak up whatever he could from the talented players around him, starting with his older brothers Jamie and Ryan, Carter Houlihan, Josh Jones, Dominik Gedek and so on through the rather long line of standout teammates. When Knights coach Chris DePeppe first met Stewart as a 12-year-old in ODP soccer, his first thoughts were how small Stewart was and how big his heart was. That first part changed eventually, but the second would remain a steadfast constant even as the youngest Stewart brother followed his older siblings to North Penn. "The whole family is that way, they get the job done but they're not braggers about it," DePeppe said. "They are the ultimate sort of foxhole teammate, the guy you want next to you when things are against you."


Talk to Stewart long enough and the word "we" starts to become a recurring trend. He didn't take sole credit for leading the team this fall, that was a shared role with fellow captains Ryan Mindick and Hunter Stites. He didn't take credit for the clutch goals he scored - it was a team effort to win those games. It was a perfect pair of player and role, as Stewart gravitated to his position as a captain. He didn't always say much, but DePeppe firmly believes that next year, players will ask themselves what Stewart would have done when they face a moment of trepidation on the field. "If I could pick someone and say, 'This is a North Penn player,' it would be Alex," DePeppe said. "Even back to our 2019 year, we had a lot of ability and a lot of studs on that team and he was a small sophomore, but in our (state) championship game in Hershey, we didn't have the energy and needed someone to go in the midfield and change the tide a little bit. Sure enough, we put him in, and he only played probably 15 minutes, but he changed that game."


Stewart is most proud of how much this year's team grew from the start of the season to where it ended. He felt the Knights lacked cohesion early on, which was fair to expect given the players they had lost - including an all-state selection in Jones - but the players still in the program had a standard to live up to. After a 3-0 loss to La Salle, Stewart felt things turned for the better. The group, which was already close, became even tighter, and each player put a little more into everything they did, from practice to games and it led to the Knights capturing another SOL title. In the playoffs, they came all the way back from a quarterfinal loss to secure the district's fifth and final state playoff spot with Stewart scoring a key goal in the playback final against rival Pennridge. "He kept everybody honest," DePeppe said. "He didn't have to say much but when he did, people listened. More than anything, it was me being able to say to guys on the bench 'play like he does.'"


Stewart's future, as he put it, is "a bit of a mystery" right now. He hasn't ruled out playing soccer in college and has a few more club tournaments left to play. Wherever Stewart ends up or whatever path he takes, DePeppe has no doubts he will be extremely successful.


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