Univest Featured Athletes (Wk 1-31-19)

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 Jan. 31, 2019

For Emma Benning and water polo, it was love at first swim. For a sport that is played in a pool, one would assume that Benning’s journey to competitive water polo was born out of a love for swimming. And while Benning, a senior at Wissahickon High School, was on a couple of swim teams in middle school as well a member of Wissahickon’s team her freshman and sophomore years, her foray into becoming a two-year captain on the most accomplished team in school history happened basically by accident.“We had a pool at the middle school, and in eighth grade gym class, we would play water polo,” Benning said. “It was completely not following any rules or regulations, and we were just kind of jumping around and throwing the ball. But I was interested enough that it got me excited. Having a background in swimming definitely helped me, but I also have a love-hate relationship with swimming and decided to stop after sophomore year and just stick with polo.”

Greg Beyer, the Wissahickon varsity polo coach, said he doesn’t think Benning’s team won a single game that first season. Still, the losing did nothing to diminish Benning’s burgeoning affinity for the sport. Instead of quitting and slinking back to field hockey, Benning took it as a personal challenge to elevate her game. She put in countless hours of one-on-one training with Beyer, spending any and all time she could in the pool, be it by herself or with some teammates. “I watched as many YouTube videos as I could,” she said. “Any free time I had, I was in the pool. I remember it being a lot of hard work to get to the point of being a starting varsity player.”

Benning was named a captain her junior year, and while Wissahickon went 6-15 overall, there was confidence in the progress being made. The Trojans only graduated two seniors after that season and returned an experienced, determined group led by a natural leader in Benning. “My first impressions of Emma were her leadership abilities and work ethic,” Beyer said. “She played like a seasoned veteran from the start. She was so eager to learn, and her unselfishness makes her such a great player for our team regardless of how much it might impact her stats. Her knowledge of the game kept her two steps ahead of her opponents a lot this year, she was always in the right place before it became the right time. To get an athlete with the raw talent that Emma possesses is rare; to get someone that wants to work as hard as Emma is even more rare. She is one of the most coachable players I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”Benning helped lead Wissahickon to a 14-win turnaround, posting a 20-9 record and finishing as runners-up in the Eastern Conference.

Given Benning’s fierce work ethic, it’s no surprise to discover that she’s also an all-star student. She’s found herself on the distinguished honor roll all four years, was a National Honor Society member the last two years and in the National French Honor Society junior year. Drawn to the sciences and medicine, she’s taken AP Biology, Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry courses and has aspirations to become a pediatric nurse practitioner in the future. Benning’s interest in pediatrics is rooted in her love of working with kids. She’s a swim coach to kids age eight and under at the Wissahickon Community Aquatic Club, and Benning also ran a volunteer-based girls water polo clinic this past summer as her Girl Scout Gold Award project, as well as her senior project at Wissahickon. At this clinic, which Benning completely organized, she taught water polo to 20 girls, an experience that turned out to be incredibly rewarding.

To read Benning’s complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/emma-benning-0082784

Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete for week of Jan. 31, 2019

Reed Zerweck remembers it well. The one-on-one interview with coach Adam Sherman at the end of basketball tryouts his freshman year when the now Central Bucks West senior captain received some very unexpected news.“My brother (Davis) was on the team already, and I obviously thought I was good enough at the time to make the team,” Zerweck said. “I went into the interview, and the first thing he said was, ‘We don’t have enough spots for you.’ Immediately, my heart just sank in my chest. I was devastated. I was holding back tears, and before I left, I told him one thing – ‘I’ll be back next year,’ and then I left.” For Zerweck, that interview didn’t mark the end but rather the beginning, and those parting words – ‘I’ll be back next year’ – became his words to live by for the next year.“It almost felt like I recorded it – I remembered it so vividly,” the Bucks’ senior captain said.

Zerweck could have been angry when he was unexpectedly cut, he could have blamed everyone but himself, but he didn’t. Instead, he made a plan and implemented that plan.“The day after I was cut I started doing my own gym program, just making sure I got to the gym every single day and worked my butt off,” Zerweck said. “I went to Lenape Middle School, and the YMCA is pretty much right across the street. I would walk there every single day after school. I actually ended up going into DAA intramurals, but I played a year up, so I was playing with the 10th, 11th and 12th graders instead of my own age.

A year later, Zerweck made the team. “He worked his tail off and really invested in his game,” Sherman said. “He came back, and it was a no-brainer. We had to pick him for the team.” While earning a spot on the team was a major victory, his journey was far from over. He saw action for the jayvee team his sophomore year and a year later was a swing player but saw limited varsity minutes. At Zerweck’s year-end exit interview, he received some life-changing advice from Sherman. “He said, ‘If you want to have a big role on the team, which I know you do, I need you to work on your fitness level,’” Zerweck said. “I said, ‘All right, I’ll do that.’” Zerweck committed himself not only to the weight room but also to better eating habits. The results were astonishing. “He dropped 18 pounds of fat and put on probably another 10 pounds of muscle,” Sherman said. “It made him a lot quicker, a lot more physical, and it really changed the way he played the game. Basically, it was a no-brainer that we had to start him, and his natural leadership skills came through, and he was named as a captain.”

Zerweck’s selection as captain for a team poised to earn a post season berth was a fitting finish to his high school career. He hopes to continue his basketball career at the club level next year. He is looking to major in either athletic training or business with his top three schools West Chester, Temple and Penn State. He is part of the Buddy Basketball program at the YMCA, which includes playing basketball with special needs athletes. At West, he is part of the Best Buddies Club and the Future Business Leaders of America Club.

To read Zerweck’s complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/reed-zerweck-0082800