Univest Featured Athletes (Wk. 4-19-18)

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 (Week of April 19, 2018)

Sophie Kolkka is not one to spend too much time looking back. She’d much rather focus on the present. When the Plymouth Whitemarsh midfielder stepped onto the lacrosse field for the first game of her senior season, she was thinking about one thing, and one thing only.“We’re looking to prove ourselves this year,” Kolkka said. “We definitely want to make a statement this year and do well in our league. I knew that this was the first game of my senior season and it was a big chance for me and for the team to get back and show everyone that we can have a big season. We have a lot to prove.”

For Kolkka, there’s no looking back. There are no thoughts of the PCL injury suffered in the first game of her junior season that cost her the entire lacrosse season, not being satisfied that she’s rehabbed and worked hard to step back onto the field, and certainly, no hesitation to play the game the only way she knows how – intense, aggressive, physical.“She doesn’t look like she’s had any time off,” PW girls’ lacrosse coach Ellen Reilly said. “She’s come back like her old self. The injury doesn’t seem to have affected her in any way, and she’s off to an awesome start for us.”

Kolkka’s injury occurred in the Colonials’ first game last season against Radnor and was the result of a knee-first fall to the ground followed by another player landing on top of her right leg.“I tried to walk it off, I got up and I tried to cut and just went down,” Kolkka said. “My knee locked as soon as I tried to cut. I fell to the ground and I couldn’t get up.” While the Colonials struggled through an injury-plagued season, Kolkka made sure her presence was felt, even if it wasn’t on the field. Even with schoolwork, doctor’s visits and physical therapy, Kolkka showed up to every practice and every game to lend her support and guidance in any way she could. Her dedication to the team last year proved to be a major reason why – despite missing a season – Kolkka was voted a captain of this year’s squad. Reilly said she couldn’t ask for a better role model for the younger kids. “Sophie runs both ends of the field, she gives 200 percent,” Reilly said. “She does things on the field you wish all your players would know and understand. She really knows the game, sees what’s happening, and she’s able to make a great play on defense that other kids can’t even comprehend how to do it, and then she goes down the field with the ball and helps set up the attack. The way Sophie plays – she fights for everything.”

A senior captain in field hockey, Kolkka was instrumental in leading the Colonials to a fourth consecutive SOL American Conference title. “With Sophie leaving, we’re losing a really competitive athlete who takes her role seriously and shows up every day to work and train,” coach Charise Halteman said. “She wants to be good herself, but she wants to be good because that will help the team. She always puts the team first. She’s been a great athlete to coach and work with the last four years. We’re certainly going to miss her, but she’s left a legacy for her younger teammates to look up to.”

This fall, Kolkka, a triplet, will head to St. Joseph’s University where she will play lacrosse and pursue a degree in food marketing.

To read Kolkka’s complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/sophie-kolkka-0077479


Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete (Week of April 19, 2018)

At first, Frankie Yanni just wanted to become a better tennis player for familial bragging rights. Then, it became a labor of love and something to strive for after a big-time medical scare. Yanni, a senior tennis player at North Penn, didn’t start his sport of choice as a young tyke like so many other student-athletes. He realized he loved tennis by watching it on television – his all-time favorite athlete is the great Roger Federer – but first, he had to get better to quiet down his cousins. Yanni was around 13 years old when he realized he had bigger tennis aspirations than just besting his cousins during informal matches, and this time in his life coincided with a frightening medical prospect.

While being checked by a school nurse for scoliosis in eighth grade, which he found out he had, the nurse suggested further testing in fear that something else might be going on. Yanni’s mother, who works at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, helped facilitate an appointment with an orthopedist at the hospital. After a two-hour MRI examined Yanni from the top of his head to the base of his spine, it was discovered he had a condition called Chiari malformation, a condition in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. While it is a condition present at birth, it is often not discovered until adolescence. Yanni was sent to a neurosurgeon, and it was quickly decided that he would need to undergo brain surgery. “I was in the hospital for three days, but everything with surgery went well,” he said. “I had to put off my tennis training for about three months, and I was dying to get back out on the court.”

Following surgery, Yanni dealt with some side effects, namely lethargy, dizziness and headaches, and once he got back on the tennis court, it was as if he was a beginner all over again. He trained for 15 minutes at a time, then increased to 30, then an hour. All the while he was getting his form back, he continued to watch tennis constantly on television.

In the time since his surgery, Yanni has developed into North Penn’s No. 1 singles player. His biggest accomplishment at the high school level was last year winning the Suburban One Continental Tournament in both singles and doubles. Toby Watton has been the tennis coach at North Penn for 47 years, so he’s had more players than he can count over the years. However, something special about Yanni stuck out almost immediately. “Some kids start when they are five or six years old, so he’s essentially accomplished what he has in half the time compared to other players,” Watton said. “So, in addition to what he has overcome physically, he’s got great athletic ability and has overcome additional adversity to be able to make up for lost time in facing kids who may have double the tennis experience he does. He keeps within himself and has great physical ability.”

Yanni will continue his tennis career at Millersville University where he plans to study special education with the aspirations of becoming a teacher.

To read Yanni’s complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/frank-yanni-0077488