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 Sept. 30, 2019
When a curious reporter called to inquire about her four years as a student-athlete at Abington High School, Zora Levette admitted she was surprised. Not because her impact on the school community wasn’t worthy of being discussed at length, because it certainly is; rather, Levette is so used to considering her accountability to others that it may have felt strange to talk so much about her own individual accomplishments. Even then, it was clear that Levette’s day brightens when she can talk about what she can do to empower others around her. It’s simply who she is.
Levette is a four-year varsity tennis player for Abington, where she serves as half of the program’s top doubles duo, along with fellow senior Jessica Reinach. The two have been playing together for four years and enjoy it so much that head coach James Howell is convinced they must be close to the top of Suburban One in third-set tiebreakers. However, where Levette truly shines is what she does for her team and school away from the court. “She helps the program immensely by leading her teammates with an immutable positive attitude and motivation,” he said. “Zora is quick to take on responsibility and is an excellent example for our underclassmen.”
When pressed for a specific example, Howell was ready. During tryouts, he and his fellow coaches require the players to run a mile, which serves no critical purpose beyond identifying who has been practicing conditioning in the offseason and who is just picking up a racket for the first time. When Levette finished her mile, she didn’t stop to rest, stretch or get a drink of water. She kept running. “She had already passed some girls that were still running, and she ran an extra lap so she could run with and motivate the freshmen and slower runners,” Howell said. “It’s the perfect representation as to why we chose Zora as a captain, because we knew she was willing to do extra work to motivate her team.”
Being a leader of a team and in a community is a natural environment for Levette. In addition to being a captain on the tennis team, she is also Abington’s student council president. Levette has been involved with student government since she was in elementary school (where she was student council president as well), and her responsibilities have been wide-ranging. As a sophomore vice president, she was involved in working on a “Rise Up, Abington” video in response to the mass shooting at Parkland High School in Florida. As a junior, she worked on planning a retirement celebration for a custodian who had been working at Abington for 50 years.
As a young black woman, Levette said she feels a responsibility to be a leader and stand up for those who feel their voices are not being heard. Her academic interests are varied, with her favorite classes ranging from Literature to Computer Science to Chinese Government. Levette hasn’t chosen a college yet but is focusing on all-female schools with strong programs in education, public policy and language learning. Levette isn’t sure if playing collegiate tennis will be in the cards for her. Whatever happens, she has zero regrets, with tennis having served as a vehicle in her ability to connect with all types of people within the Abington community as a leader and ambassador for the school.
To read Levette’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/zora-levette-0087394
Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete for week of Sept. 30, 2019
Nino Barbati isn’t a headliner for his Central Bucks East soccer team, a distinction typically reserved for goal scorers. Instead, Barbati has been entrusted with the task of anchoring the defense as one of the team’s center backs. Listening to his coach tell it, he possesses a coveted combination on the soccer pitch. “He’s an extremely hard worker who is very good on the ball and also very tough,” East coach Josh Isaacsohn said. “You find in the high school level there are a lot of kids that are very good on the ball and a lot of kids that are very tough, but you rarely have that combination, especially in the back defensively where it’s important.”
Beyond that, the Central Bucks East senior – a captain – also has the perfect traits to lead the squad. “He’s a leader through talk and through play, and that’s what is great about him,” Isaacsohn said. “On the field, he absolutely is a warrior. He will play forever. At the same time, he’s commanding the field and talking, and he’s constantly trying to help the guys around him, so it’s nice because rarely do you get a captain who’s a combination of both.” The back line feels a whole lot like home to the senior captain, who began his high school career playing outside midfielder but last year moved to outside back, a position he played for his club team. For Isaacsohn, moving Barbati to center back this year was a natural choice. “He’s was always a quiet, hardworking kid who was fairly versatile,” the Patriots’ coach said. “With the offseason work we’ve done and seeing him play with the guys around him – it just seemed to be a role I thought would work out well for him. He’s extremely coachable.”
Barbati’s soccer career has not been without a few speed bumps. After playing swing and seeing action mainly for the jayvee as a freshman, he earned a spot on the varsity as a sophomore. “I played a little bit at the beginning of the season, and after that I didn’t really see any minutes, Barbati said. “I didn’t have much confidence then. I wasn’t in the best head space with soccer.” Some might have walked away, but Barbati stayed with soccer, a decision he hasn’t regretted. “Playing soccer has given me a lot more confidence in general,” he said. “It made me mentally tougher. It definitely forces me to go out of my comfort zone.”
Barbati is in the midst of the college application process. He plans to major in neuroscience with the goal of conducting psychological research out of college and after that perhaps becoming a clinical psychologist. “It’s a perfect balance between interpersonal experiences and science,” Barbati said. “I’ve taken biology and psychology classes in school, and they have ignited this interest as well. I like to be around people and talk to people, and it’s the perfect mix of those two.” Barbati’s people skills are underscored in his involvement with TOPSoccer, a volunteer organization that allows those with adaptive needs an opportunity to enjoy the sport. “He has been phenomenal with the kids over there,” said Isaacsohn, who runs the program through CBAA. “He’s taken some of the more challenging kids who are non-verbal and others who are extremely energetic. He’s been unbelievable.”
Barbati is a member of the Spanish Honor Society and anticipates joining the National Honor Society this year. In the spring, he tutors and helps with homework at a homeless shelter in New Jersey one night a week. This past summer, he traveled to Peru for three weeks for a Spanish Learning Exchange Trip. The trip also included community service. For now, soccer is front and center for Barbati, who realizes this could be his final season of competitive soccer.
To read Barbati’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/nino-barbati-0087393