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 Feb. 24, 2021
Nicole Blaustein had herself quite a year on the basketball court. The Council Rock South senior averaged 17.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2 assists and four steals a game. While those numbers are impressive by any standard, they’re something close to ridiculous when considering that Blaustein, who is right-handed, has played the last two seasons with torn cartilage in her right shoulder. It turns out she was scheduled to have surgery back in April, but that was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yes, she could have had surgery during the summer, but Blaustein’s passion for basketball won out in the end. “I really wanted to have my AAU season and definitely have my senior season of high school, so I knew that wasn’t really an option anymore because I knew I definitely wanted to be able to play since it’s a long recovery,” said the CR South senior, who is in the top one percent of her class academically. “It was really tough for me to decide because at first I was thinking of possibly giving up my AAU season to have my senior season, but then I decided I really wanted to be able to play both.”
And play both she has. That’s not to say it’s been easy. It hasn’t. “It’s been a little bit of a struggle,” she said. “It definitely is exacerbated during the season, but it’s something I play through because I know the alternative – which is sitting out – was not really an option for me.” As a junior, Blaustein had her shoulder taped before games and played well enough to earn second team all-league honors. This year, she has opted to forego the tape and has found the secret to playing through the pain. “It’s interesting – the adrenaline during the game kind of allows me to keep on going and not really pay much attention to it during the game, but it’s more after the games that it’s sore,” Blaustein said. A two-year captain, Blaustein surpassed the elusive 1,000-point mark, joining Alex Wheatley as the only players in the 20-year history of the school – male or female - to reach that milestone.
Not to be forgotten is the fact that – unbeknownst to Blaustein at the time – she played her sophomore season with a broken kneecap. “She never complained about the pain either then or in the last two years,” Rock South coach Blair Klumpp said. “She’s had a serious shoulder injury and played through it last year with physical therapy and rehab with plans to get it operated on in the spring, go through rehab and get fully healthy for the first time in years. She decided she didn’t want to miss her senior year and is kind of in a pain management mode with physical therapy. She never complains about it, and she fits the PT in with the rest of her schedule. She makes it work, but it’s a serious injury, and she’s playing so well this year all around.”
Blaustein’s resume off the hardwood is even more impressive than her accomplishments on the court. She is actively involved in the Travis Manion Club and the National Honor Society. She is also member of the Science Honor Society, Rho Kappa National Honor Society (a social studies honor society), the English Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society. She has taken nine AP classes, five this year. All of the while, Council Rock was using a hybrid system during the COVID-19 pandemic and has only recently allowed students to return for five days a week. In terms of career, Blaustein – who will major in biology – has her sights set on becoming a doctor. She was recently accepted to her top choice, the University of Virginia, which has an admissions rate of only 15.4 percent for out-of-state students. “What’s most impressive about Nicole is her overall character,” Klumpp said. “She’s a tremendous representative of our program both in school and the community. She’s in the top 1 percent of her class, in multiple national honor societies, member of multiple clubs, volunteers in the community. She is setting herself up for a very successful future, and I am very proud of her on and off the court.”
To read Blaustein’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/nicole-blaustein-0093135
Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete for week of Feb. 24, 2021.
Ever since he can remember, Jahaire Johnson has wanted to be a police detective. As such, it didn’t take long to figure out the most egregious crime he was committing against himself was not matching his athletic excellence as a two-sport star at Upper Moreland with his academics in the classroom. Once he made the connection that the two were connected, he has been an unstoppable force and role model to others in the school. “Coming from eighth grade, I had a hard transition,” he said. “I don’t know if it was a case of me being immature. I just think I could have made better decisions. I realized, after my sophomore year, that the next year was really going to be the year that colleges were going to be looking at me.”
It did not go unnoticed by his coaches. Dan Heiland has coached Johnson in both football and basketball since he was a freshman at Upper Moreland. “The growth I have seen of him over these past four years -- as a student, an athlete and a young man-- is truly remarkable,” said Heiland, who is the varsity basketball coach and an assistant football coach. “Every year, I see improvements from Jahaire as a student. He has made great strides in his studies, and I truly believe he now understands the importance of maintaining good grades and how they can impact his future for the better.” The other part of the equation, natural athleticism, was never in question. “As an athlete, Jahaire is one of most talented individuals I have ever coached, and he is a tremendous leader,” added Heiland. “Not only is he gifted as a player, but he is extremely knowledgeable of the game. He continues to learn the game and get better at his craft, but most importantly, he is coachable and he wants to continue to get better.”
In football, Johnson was a three-year starter and two-time All-League wide receiver and defensive back, as well as a team captain in 2020. His coach for all three years on the varsity level was C.J. Szydlik, who is also a Philadelphia Police Officer. Said the coach: “He does everything for everybody, whatever he is playing. He is just one of those kids. For us, not only was he on offense and defense, but on special teams. He did everything and anything that you asked him to do. And he did it all with a smile on his face, and with a little bit of laughter, and he would just go from there. He was just that kind of kid. He was a team captain for us this year, but he has been a leader for us, vocally, for the last three years. He is just one of those kids who got it, and he worked hard every day.”
A year ago, when he was averaging around 17 points per game, Johnson tore his meniscus and missed the rest of the basketball campaign. Heiland believes Johnson gained perspective from the adversity, and put his work ethic to the test. “I give Jahaire a ton of credit and it shows you what type of young man he is, because even through all the challenges and adversity that he faced he kept a positive attitude and kept grinding, never looking back,” said Heiland. “He got himself back into playing shape a lot quicker than most of his coaches and teammates thought, and, again, it’s a testament to his work ethic. I was so happy for Jahaire, to see him back on the field and on the court where he shines and can truly showcase his abilities. As he continues to build on his legacy on our Upper Moreland programs, I feel very lucky to have coached him in multiple sports these past four years. He truly is an exceptional young man and has a very bright future in anything he wants to do.” Johnson is that rare combination of a student-athlete able to take to take the sport, football or basketball, seriously without taking himself too seriously. “He’s just one of those kids who you know you were going to get laughs and jokes with and, when it was time to be serious, he was,” said Szydlik. “I’m going to miss hearing his voice every single day. He enjoys life. He enjoys playing sports, and enjoys being around his teammates. He is just, overall, a great kid.”
To read Johnson’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/jahaire-johnson-0093134