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 May 20, 2020
AbbyEllen Wood was born into a family of competitors. “My family is super, super into sports,” the Upper Moreland senior said. “All of my siblings play. My mom was a competitive dancer and ran track in high school, and my dad played sports in high school, and we love it. We’re the type of family that brings all the different games to the beach, the family parties and things like that. If we have free time, we’re out in the backyard having a (catch) or playing keep-away or something like that.” Wood, although never a headliner, was an invaluable part of both the basketball and lacrosse programs for four years and a two-year captain in both. “Every successful team needs an AbbyEllen,” UM basketball coach Matt Carroll said.
Wood’s value is not measured by the numbers she puts up or even by the fact that she is a shutdown defender in both sports. Rather it’s the intangibles she brings to the court and field. “She’s that good wholesome kid that people respect because she’s a good human being,” UM lacrosse coach Kim Frantz said. “She’s somebody they’ll look to as a positive role model. She’s an awesome kid – her whole family is awesome.” Added Carroll, ““She puts her own worries aside for the betterment of the team. She’s really a selfless kid. We always joke that we don’t have any female coaches on our staff. She was like the mom – she was the female coach of the team. She was like the mature adult in the room who wasn’t either a grown man or a high school girl. Even as a ninth grader, she was always vocal, which is kind of rare for an underclassmen.”
As a freshman, Wood found an immediate home in the defensive backfield for the varsity lacrosse team. “She’s not the person on the team that gets recognition necessarily, but she’s a great leader on and off the field just because of the person she is,” Frantz said. “She’s a key to my defense because of her communication skills. She just keeps that positive vibe for everyone. She’s the kid – if we’re not playing well, she’ll find a way to spark people and get people going. She always has the right thing to say at the right time.” Wood will be attending Messiah College, choosing the private Christian school from a final list that included a pair of Division I schools – Liberty University and Monmouth University.
Basketball is Wood’s second sport, and if ever a player was an advertisement for the fact that scoring points isn’t everything, the two-year captain could be the poster child. She averaged less than five points while seeing over 26 minutes of playing time a game. “She plays defense for lacrosse, and a lot of that translates to basketball,” Carroll said. “There were games like against Upper Dublin that her sister got a lot of accolades because she made five threes and scored 20 points. Meanwhile, AbbyEllen is getting beat up in the post covering (three-time all-state center) Jackie Vargas. She covers the other team’s best player regardless of their position.”
Also an excellent student, Wood is president of UM’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She is active in her church – Davisville Church - and serves as co-leader of a small group of seventh grade girls. When Wood was in sixth grade, her family – she is the second of four siblings – travelled to Cambodia to serve with missionaries there. Two years ago, she went to Ethiopia for a week with her father to help run a sports camp for kids. Wood has also been involved in service locally, including working with Philly Project. Although uncertain of a major, Wood has her sights set on working in missions. “I really have a heart for people and I would really like to be able to help in any way I can – I’d love to take my major and be able to teach or help do research or anything like that,” she said, going to credit her parents, Geoff & Jennifer Wood. “They are the best ever and have been constant support systems through everything.”
To read Wood’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/abbyellen-wood-0090295
Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete for week of May 20, 2020
Before Dan Keller would go on to win 107 wrestling matches at Wissahickon High School, he first had to figure out how to do a push-up. Like many before him, Keller was indoctrinated into the sport by someone who came before him - in this instance, his older brother, Jon, two years Dan’s senior. However, unlike many of those predecessors, Keller didn’t get his start on the mat as a 5- or 6-year-old. In fact, he originally had no interest in the sport at all. Then, one day when Dan was in sixth grade, Jon, who had just started wrestling as an eighth grader, came home from a practice and told his brother and parents that the team had a push-up contest against one another. Immediately, a light bulb crackled inside Dan’s cranium. “Jon was a big, strong kid, and he loved wrestling as much as I loved watching his matches,” Dan said. “He would come home talking about how hard the practices were, and as soon as he mentioned the push-up test, I wanted to see how many I could do. I got on the ground and did two. And what that did was drive me to get better. In my mind, if I could do more push-ups, then I could wrestle too.”
Dan may have failed his earliest strength test, but Jon’s newfound love of wrestling rubbed off on the younger brother. Dan didn’t find much success his first two seasons in seventh and eighth grade. He said he could remember “three or four or five wins, and every other time I got pinned.” But Keller quickly discovered that he enjoyed the discipline of wrestling more than anything else. If he stuck to the plan, the wins would come. And did they ever. Keller posted a 44-27 record his first two years, a solid yet unspectacular mark. By his own admission, Keller said he didn’t take wrestling as seriously as he could have at the outset. Keller made it to states as a junior and senior. He didn’t place, which he admits initially disappointed him, but after some reflection, Keller said he took much more from the lessons wrestling taught him. Perspective showed him that those things he could take from the sport and apply to real life were infinitely more valuable than any win or medal could be.
Keller is one of just 10 wrestlers in school history to reach the 100-win milestone. However, despite the fact that Keller’s grades are strong and colleges were interested in him as a wrestler, he made the decision that his wrestling career would end with his final Wissahickon match. The next chapter in Keller’s life will not take him to any college, as he has enlisted in the United States Navy. Once his enlistment begins, Keller will be working on planes as an aviation technician. “I’ve been coaching for 35-plus years, and Dan Keller is right at the top of the list of any kid I’ve ever coached,” Wissahickon coach Anthony Stagliano said. “Not just his wrestling record on the mat, but who he is as an individual…they don’t come much better. He had a (heck) of a run.”
Aside from his interests in wrestling and mechanics, Keller has been a volunteer firefighter for two years, something he expressed a desire to continue into adulthood. Wrestling at Wissahickon helped turn him into the young man he is today, one who is set to enlist in the armed forces and spend the rest of his life fighting for American freedom. “The thing that stands out the most to me is that hard work pays off and nothing is given to you in life,” he said. “You can’t sit back and do nothing and expect to get the things you want. Coach Stagliano instilled that in me, and I always knew I wanted to do something with my life outside of wrestling. At the same time, wrestling has made me the person I am today.”
To read Keller’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/dan-keller-0090292