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 June 4, 2021
Lesha Karaba had herself quite a lacrosse season. The Abington senior – in a season cut short by two COVID-19 shutdowns – scored 61 goals, earned first team league honors and was an undeniable leader of a Ghost squad that earned a spot in districts. Impressive by any standard but especially remarkable considering Karaba did not play for the past two springs – stepping away as a sophomore to sort things out and then missing last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “That’s why it’s so incredible,” Abington coach Amalie Kreitman said. “Her talent is so remarkable that after two years she was able to pick up the stick and score 61 goals. If she would have played all four years, I think she would have been unstoppable. As it was, the senior midfielder was pretty close to unstoppable in her final high school season, and she has not ruled out the idea of playing lacrosse at some level when she heads to Arizona State University this fall. “I think this year really had a big impact on if I wanted to play after high school because at the beginning of the year I was very skeptical,” Karaba said. “But the bond I have with the girls on my team is unbreakable now. I want to continue making new bonds with new people with the sport I love. I can’t see myself continuing without it.” If given the chance to do it over, Karaba might very well choose to do it exactly the same way. “Part of me wishes I’d played, but the other part – it’s a good thing I didn’t play because it made me have an appreciation for the girls,” she said.
Karaba also had a breakout season for Abington SOL Liberty Division champion soccer team last fall. “She’s an ace,” coach Rick Tompkins said. “She’s got a ridiculous amount of speed, and she unbalances defenses for us. She truly came into her own as a senior. Although she played a lot as a junior, she didn’t get as much production, but she worked really, really hard and saw a lot more success in terms of goals and assists.” Karaba’s value to both squads extended well beyond the goals and assists she contributed. “She’s got a good attitude, she’s coachable, and she’s very well respected by the team,” Kreitman said. “People would go to her with their stick skills and how to do things. She is a true leader. We pushed her in the sense – yes, she wasn’t a captain, but she had all these leadership qualities that were helpful. When we needed to get things done, she was able to push the underclassmen in a positive way and get them fired up with skills and just being on the field and what that should look like.” Added Tompkins, “She was a good teammate. Plug and play – you put her on the field, and you know she was going to give you good solid minutes.”
Sports have been part of Karaba’s life for as long as she can remember. She played soccer for her father, who was her coach from the time she was four until she was 12. “He really had a big impact on my love for sports,” she said. “He played sports in high school and passed it down to me. My mom and dad always knew what to do to help if I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, and they were always supportive in any decision I would make whether it be with lacrosse or with the future," she said.
This fall at Arizona State, Karaba will will pursue a biomedical sciences major with her sights set on a career in dermatology. A member of the National Honor Society, Karaba also was part of Abington’s Varsity A club her sophomore and junior years. This summer she is going to be working with the 2025s and 2026s in HEADstrong, her club lacrosse team. "My club team, HEADstrong, had a big impact in wanting to continue with the sport," she said. "The bond with the girls and how my coaches were so invested in wanting to see us succeed and play to our fullest potential - I feel that gave me more confidence in myself as a player and really pushed me to keep striving for as much success as I can in the sport."
To read Karaba’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/lesha-karaba-0095180
Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete for week of June 4, 2021
Jimmy Tooley. It just sounds like a baseball name, doesn’t it? Sounds like a classic old-time player from the Philadelphia Athletics or Boston Braves who you don’t learn all about until a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Oddly enough, Hatboro-Horsham senior Jimmy Tooley has been to Cooperstown and marked the visit with back-to-back home runs (over 200-foot fences) as a 12U Horsham travel player. “That was a long, long time ago,” he recalled. “The first at-bat I had up there, I hit a home run. Then came the second at-bat. I came up and did the same thing again. I wasn’t expecting it all. It was just awesome.” At Hatboro-Horsham, Tooley has steadily improved since earning a varsity spot as a freshman. This past season, one that began in concussion protocol after a collision in practice with teammate and co-captain Noah Gremo, the pitcher/center fielder is slotted in the cleanup spot and has hit just under .300 with an OBP over .500 and 16 RBI and 12 steals. “To be honest, I don’t know how I managed to get to the 4-hole,” said Tooley. “I know they switched around the lineup one game and I was in the fourth spot. I believe it’s mostly because I’m consistent. I don’t need to put the ball over the fence to score runs.”
Tooley is also the ace pitcher, currently 4-1 with a 1.63 ERA. In 55 innings, he has struck out 70 batters while walking just 16 and allowed 32 hits as the Hatters look ahead to the PIAA state playoffs. But, while numbers are important vital signs of a baseball player’s well-being, there is a lot more to the kid with the Hall of Fame name than statistics. He has a Hall of Fame heart. “He is mature beyond his years, and has been unbelievable on the field for us this year,” said H-H coach Pete Moore. “As good as he is one the field, he’s even a better person off the field.” What Moore will remember most is the way Tooley stepped up and took charge and organized workouts when COVID-19 left the season hanging in the balance. “He is a great leader for our program and did a tremendous job in a difficult time this year when we were not allowed to have team workouts,” said Moore. “He and another guy organized some workouts for the guys so that they could get some work in before we started it up.” The fact that the Hatters advanced to the state playoffs could be attributed to putting in the work when perhaps not all the other teams were doing so. “I feel like that really helped us,” said Tooley, who gave up soccer early in his high school career to focus solely on baseball. “We didn’t have a preseason, or even a fall season. We just felt it was something we could do to get ready for the season.”
Despite his steady improvements each year, Tooley still finds himself entering June still looking for a college program. With losing his junior year due to the season being nullified by COVID-19, he has not had the necessary exposure to Division I schools, many of whom retained seniors an extra year because of the pandemic. There are offers out there, but none to his liking. “Getting that exposure has been really difficult,” said Tooley, a solid student who gets A’s and B’s in all of his classes and who was a member of Link Crew, which orients incoming freshmen. “I’ve tried reaching out to schools, and I have had some contact. I still have so many options. I want to find that one school where I’m going to be challenged athletically. I don’t want to go in somewhere and start every game right away. I want to be pushed and become a better player. That’s where I’m finding it difficult. A lot of the D-1 or D-II programs that I may be able to play for are already filling all their roster spots. These schools are, like, ‘Hey, we love you but our roster is already filled.’” Moore says that he has no doubts that Tooley will find a landing spot that fits and can continue his baseball odyssey. It is bittersweet for the coach. “He’s been a pleasure to coach for four years,” the Hatters’ coach said. “I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like next year without having him there.”
To read Tooley’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/jimmy-tooley-0095171