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 March 5, 2020
Little things can make a big difference. The cheerful ‘hi’ in the hallway, the lighthearted teasing that brings laughter to any situation, the word of encouragement when a teammate makes a mistake, the easy smile for no special reason. Somewhere along the line, Mikaela Reese came to understand the importance of the little things. A part of it certainly is because of the way the Souderton senior was treated by the upperclassmen when she joined the basketball program. “I’m smiling right now,” Reese said at the mention of her rookie days. “I was the little freshman and sophomore the upperclassmen would pick on in a friendly way. That’s what I think made it such a fun experience because I was able to connect with them. Now that I’m a senior I can do that to the freshmen. I can tease them in a friendly way. I’m giving back.”
Reese – the team’s lone senior - is also modeling what it means to be a leader, the very best kind of leader. “She was always the one bringing energy to practices and games,” freshman point guard Casey Harter said. “Even the little things – like in the hallway in the morning, I would pass her a lot, and she would always say ‘hi’ with so much energy. It would make me smile and make my day. She does that at practice – her energy, her communication. She’s the one to hype us up before the game. During the game, she’ll give tips and suggestions. It gives me a lot of confidence. She definitely helps me, and it made (the transition) so much easier to have someone to look up to.”
Small wonder coach Lynn Carroll calls her senior captain “a coach’s dream.” “I feel like at some point I’m going to be saying to the other kids – this is what you need to aspire to be,” the Indians’ coach said. “Someone who is the hardest working player on the team, who is selfless, who wants what’s best for the team. This isn’t a kid who was in ninth grade and started playing right away. She had to wait her turn, she played behind some very good talent. When it was her turn last year, she didn’t wait, she went after it, but she’s always been able to take a backseat in terms of leadership. Then just to see her blossom as the leader she has been this year – it’s like the cherry on top.” A Souderton squad that was expected to endure a major rebuilding year has instead won 19 games and earned a coveted berth in states – the program’s fourth in as many years. Reese was the catalyst, leading the Indians in every category except turnovers. “Earning a ticket to states – who would have thought?” Carroll said. “But had I known in September, October and November what Mikaela was going to do for us, I wouldn’t have been as surprised as I was with the success that we’ve had. She doesn’t get nervous, she’s even keeled. It’s almost like when I describe Mikaela I’m also describing the team. Her identity became the team’s identity. She has been carefree, confident, resilient, works hard, shows up to play and compete every day, and she has a we-have-nothing-to-lose kind of attitude – let’s just go out and have fun. She brings all of those things, and I think our team kind of turned into that as the season went on. Everybody has just been following her lead.”
A first team All-SOL Continental selection, Reese committed to continue her basketball career at DeSales University where she will join former teammate Megan Bealer. In the spring, Reese will once again be part of Souderton’s unified track team. Working with children will be part of Reese’s future. She plans to major in early childhood education and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of one day coaching. Reese will be gone next year, but it’s safe to say she will not soon be forgotten. “I always think this about leaders – a good leader leaves a lasting impact on a program long after they’re gone,” Carroll said. “The young kids are going to be better leaders when they’re seniors because they were able to witness what Mikaela has done this year. They know what it looks like and what it feels like to be led by somebody who is strong and positive and inclusive. It’s just been a coach’s dream.”
To read Reese’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/mikaela-reese-0090055
Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete for week of March 5, 2020
Zach Lewis doesn’t say much, so Kurt Handel wasn’t sure how things might play out for the wrestler he describes as “quietly ferocious.” Lewis burst onto the scene as a freshman at Quakertown, starting the year with the jayvee program before ending up in the varsity lineup after a wrestle-off in the latter part of the season. Lewis responded by posting an 8-5 record, winning the league tournament and placing sixth at districts. As far as first impressions go, Lewis aced his first big varsity test, and things were seemingly only looking up from there. Then, sophomore year came around and Lewis found himself back in a familiar place: the jayvee squad, blocked from entering Quakertown’s starting rotation while stuck behind the team’s state qualifier. He saw some varsity time that season, going 12-5, but it was a dispiriting scenario following Lewis’ hot start as a freshman.
Handel said many kids in the same position would have quit, and because Lewis is such a man of few words, he didn’t broadcast how the demotion made him feel. Was it difficult going back to jayvee after experiencing varsity success? Absolutely. But quit? No chance, not Lewis. He simply got back to work and let the results do the talking for him. “It was definitely hard being back on jayvee again after coming out strong,” Lewis admitted. “But I never thought about quitting. I’ve always wanted to prove myself. I’ve been doing it my whole life. When that happened, I just worked harder than I ever have. I started wrestling and lifting more in the summer to be better, and it showed.”
As a coach, Handel knows how the minds of teenagers work more than most. When kids experience failure or setbacks, it sometimes forces them to shut down and withdraw. That said, the internal fortitude and perseverance within Lewis was too strong to break. If anything, the adversity was only going to make Lewis better in his final two seasons. “It’s a harsh sport,” Handel said. “Some years it works, others it doesn’t. Zach could have quit, but he never felt sorry for himself. He takes success and failure in a similar stride. He’s very even-keeled, and that’s why he is so successful. Zach is a pretty laidback young man. He’s chill, for lack of a better word. He’s not a high emotion kid who is hooting and hollering. He chooses to lead by example. Each athlete has his own personality, and I always sum up Zach as quietly ferocious. When he has a little setback, he comes back with a fury.”
As a team this season, Quakertown qualified for districts and finished second, with some key Lewis wins leading the charge. That placement got them to states as a team, which the program hadn’t done since 2009. Though they came up short in Hershey, Lewis won both of his individual matches. “And he was deserving of that outcome,” Handel said. “In this day in age, if kids aren’t in the varsity lineup at some point, they’ll quit because they don’t want to wrestle jayvee. Zach isn’t selfish, and when the chips are down, he doesn’t fold up. He doesn’t want to give up any points to his opponents, and he made us work at practice. He brought that to a room with a lot of underclassmen, and the younger kids took notice of his quiet, top-notch work ethic. I’ll really miss Zach. He and his fellow seniors were outstanding and the reason why we had such a historic season.”
As far as Lewis’ wrestling future is concerned, he’s still debating if there’s more to come. Now that the season is over, he’s narrowed his college decision down to two: Lock Haven University and Messiah College. The latter would include a spot on the wrestling team, while Lock Haven would be more of an academics-first decision. Lewis has aspirations to become a Health and Physical Education teacher, and while both schools offer that as a major, he wants to be sure he puts his studies, and not wrestling, first. He went to a camp at Messiah last summer and has talked to the coach and members of the team multiple times and believes either place would be a good fit.
To read Lewis’ complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/zach-lewis-0090054