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 Nov. 30, 2021.
During her junior season on the Upper Dublin girls’ volleyball team, Lauren Howie learned she would be counted on to take a leadership role for the 2021 squad. At the time, she couldn’t have realized just how much of a challenge she would be facing. Or how crucial her leadership would prove to be. “I knew we’d have to fill the shoes of the seniors we were losing,” Howie said. “I was honored and excited (coach Paul Choi) saw that in me. Being named a co-captain on this year’s team meant so much to me. I was so excited when I found out. After being on the varsity from the end of my sophomore year through junior year, I knew I was ready for the challenge, as I felt like over the last few years, I’d developed a good relationship with all the girls on the team, older and younger.”
Howie and her schoolmates had already dealt with a Covid-altered volleyball season—not to mention parts of two school years affected by the pandemic. But Upper Dublin’s hopes of returning to some semblance of normalcy were dashed just one day into the new school year when the remnants of Hurricane Ida unleashed massive rain, winds, and a tornado on the area. Amidst the mass destruction throughout the area was significant damage to Upper Dublin High School. The school would close for a month for repairs, force the students to return to remote learning, and leave the fall sports teams scrambling to find places to practice and play. “Lauren was really a lifesaver for us this year,” Choi said. “She’s the one you know is going to take care of everyone. For me, having Lauren as a co-captain was the best thing that could happen for this team under those circumstances. You need someone who can take care of all that and help me out and support and make sure everyone is focused and on the same page. She’s a great student, very intelligent, very mature, and she’s able to help with the transition of everything that was going on early in the season for us.”
After the initial shock subsided and the students needed to move forward, Howie and her co-captain Sammy Silver set about gathering the team and getting them refocused on the task at hand. “It was remarkable. You don’t understand the community you have around you until these things happen,” Howie said. “Wissahickon offered up their gym, other teams switched games and adjusted game times, Sandy Run let us use their gym. I have friends on other teams who lost the pool, or the tennis courts, but we all saw so many other schools willing to help out or host them. Even just caring enough to send a text. Everyone rallied behind us and made things a lot easier, it was awesome to see.”
The Cardinals battled through inconsistencies, distractions, and growing pains in the early weeks of the season. But throughout the early bumps in the road, Howie’s positive attitude remained a constant. “When our energy wasn’t good or we needed positivity, I could always rely on Lauren,” Choi said. “In timeouts, she’s talking to the team, trying to uplift everyone. You can’t be successful if your heads are down. Lauren has an understanding of the team’s vibe and energy level. She’s not afraid to voice her opinion and speak up if necessary. She always wants to do what’s in the best interest of the team. The team comes first, and she was willing to do what she needed to in order to make sure we were successful. And she busted her butt day in and day out. I always knew she would give us 100 percent every day. You don’t get that from everyone.’ As the season progressed, the Cardinals’ fortunes changed. Howie’s presence proved to be critical in the turnaround.
In addition to her leadership role on the volleyball team, Howie also serves as President of the school’s Mock Trial Team and is Vice President of student government. She’s still weighing her college options, but she’s looking to study political science and philosophy and economics with an eye on possibly pursuing a law degree. Depending on where she ends up, she’d like to play volleyball, most likely at the club or intermural level. “We’re going to miss her presence,” Choi said. “We had a standout libero we lost last year, this year we’re losing Howie - we lose another big defensive presence, but more so we lose a big leadership presence. She has strong values, she’s mature, understands that the values of this program are more than just what happens on the court. Whether it was volleyball-related or school or anything else, I always knew as a coach and we always knew as a team that we could count on Lauren.”
To read Howie’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/lauren-howie-0097871
Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete for week of Nov. 30, 2021.
Andrew Perillo laughs at the suggestion that perhaps he should consider a career in coaching. “A couple of times I was called coach Perillo,” the Central Bucks East senior said of his unplanned stint on the sidelines during his final high school football season this fall. Watching games from the sidelines was certainly the last thing on Perillo’s mind entering the season. The Central Bucks East senior had worked hard to earn a position on both sides of the football and was not only firmly entrenched in the starting lineup - he was also a captain. “During camp when it got announced, I was so happy,” Perillo said of his selection as captain. “They were the goals I was looking forward to and pushing myself to, and I was finally able to get them. I had just gotten to the point where I wanted to be, but I wanted to push myself further.”
The script, however, did not go as planned. Perillo played three games for an East squad that had its sights set high after a 1-5 pandemic-shortened season last year. Three days after the Patriots’ third game at Central Bucks South, the senior captain began noticing some all-too-familiar concussion symptoms. “I didn’t realize it at the time – it wasn’t like a specific hit where I knew right away that I was out,” said Perillo. “I ended up playing the entire game. The Monday after - I started feeling it. This was my fourth concussion, so I knew how they usually felt. That week I talked to my parents about it. I went to a specialist, and I realized I had one.” The CB South game – a 24-19 win – turned out to be Perillo’s final high school football game, although he didn’t know it at the time. “I was hoping it would be maybe two-three games I’d be out,” he said. “It ended up I wouldn’t be playing any of the games. It hurt because just being able to get what I wanted to achieve – being captain, starting offense and defense. It was just the start of what I thought would be a great season. We were 2-1 at the time, and we had already turned it around from last year.
As a team, we were all more positive and more ready to go and knew we could have a great season. It hurt because I knew I was still going to be there but would not be able to help on the field.”
Perillo’s football story didn’t end there, but it followed a much different path than he anticipated. “I think back to Jake Ventresca – Jake got hurt week one of his senior year, and Anthony Giordano got hurt last year,” East coach John Donnelly said of two former standouts who were lost to injuries in their final season. “I think Andrew has been able to look at those guys and it’s not the role he wanted to be in, still being a great leader even though you can’t physically be on the field, but he saw what those two guys did, and I think he had some good role models to follow, and he really fulfilled that. He continued to be an outstanding leader for us. It’s not something we ask a guy to do – it’s something that has to come from within, and Andrew did that to the very end.” Perillo’s earned the respect of his teammates. “I know there were guys in tears after our last district playoff game that were really in tears for him that he just didn’t have the opportunity,” Donnelly said. “He would have killed to be in that game but was still very instrumental in helping us get there and guiding our younger players. My son is one of the tight ends that has worked with Andrew, and I know Jack and all the other tight ends look up to him. Just the way he plays, the way he carries himself on and off the field, he’s the kind of guy you want to represent your program.”
Off the gridiron, Perillo is an excellent student and boasts a course load that includes AP Statistics, AP Spanish and AP Physics as well as Environmental Sustainability. Next fall, Perillo is looking to pursue a degree in environmental engineering or aerospace engineering. He is undecided on a school but is considering a diverse list that includes the University of California Santa Barbara, Penn State University, California Polytechnic State University, and the University of Florida. Football will not be part of his future – at least not as a player, but he credits the sport for instilling life lessons. “It has taught me a lot more out of the sport than it has in it,” Perillo said. “The biggest thing I take out of this program are certain skills like accountability, things like integrity and some things you wouldn’t be able to gain without football like perseverance. I think that especially helped me with this year. The upperclassmen above me like Will Silverman, Jack Vogelsong, Andrew Cassidy, Anthony Giordano – they all gave us this culture of what we can do and what we can be. I think that really helped me on the field as well as off it in school, and it’s going to help me in life.”
To read Perillo’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/andrew-perillo-0097874