Favorite athlete: Chris Long (Philadelphia Eagles)
Favorite team: Duke University Men’s Basketball Team
Favorite memory competing in sports: My Senior Night this season when I broke the school record for threes in a single game.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: In practice one day, we were scrimmaging. One of my teammates got crossed up so bad that she fell straight backwards, and the entire practice just stopped because everyone was laughing so hard.
Music on mobile device: Ed Sheeran, a lot of country and a lot of rap
Future plans: Attend a four-year college (undecided), I plan to major in biochemistry and eventually get a job where I can research medicine.
Words to live by: Family first.
One goal before turning 30: Study abroad
One thing people don’t know about me: I’ve been playing golf since I was 10, and I played on the school team for three years.
By Craig Ostroff
Allison McGowan is a firm believer that the best memories of playing sports come not from games themselves, but from the camaraderie and friendships that develop over the years.
Still, there’s one game in particular that will forever be etched in McGowan’s memory.
Senior Night – Feb. 6.
“That night was … it really was awesome,” McGowan says, struggling to come up with the words to adequately describe how much that game means to her. “It really couldn’t … I couldn’t have written it any better. It just was one of the greatest nights of my life.”
The evening started with McGowan being honored for her contributions to the Council Rock South girls’ basketball program – particularly during this season where she served as co-captain to a very young squad.
It ended with McGowan having written her name in the Golden Hawks’ record books.
“I hit two threes in the beginning of the game, and from that point on, I could tell this was going to be a really good game,” she said.
That’s a bit of an understatement. By the time the final horn sounded, McGowan had racked up a double-double with game-highs of 22 points and 14 rebounds as the Golden Hawks downed Bensalem, 63-43. Among her 22 points were a Council Rock South girls’ basketball single-game record six three-pointers.
“Those early two were the only threes I hit in the first half,” McGowan said. “In the second half, we came out and it was all my teammates getting me the ball at the right time.
“The last one, my coach drew up a play. Carley Irvin was in at point guard and we ran the play and she waited and waited for me to be open, passed it to me, and I hit my sixth three. My family was in the stands going crazy. To have that happen on my Senior Night was amazing.”
Her Senior Night experience was a much-deserved reward for a senior and leader who gave up playing golf for the Golden Hawks this year so that she could focus on basketball, and who served as a cornerstone for a team that desperately needed her talent and steadying presence.
McGowan entered the year as one of few experienced players for what would be an underclassman-dominated Golden Hawks’ squad that showed improvement throughout the season, even if those forward steps didn’t often show up in the team’s record (South finished at 7-15 overall, 3-9 in Suburban One National Conference play).
“Allison filled the leadership role from the first day I got the job, and the first meeting we had, she took the lead,” said first-year head coach Blair Klumpp. “She was the only one with consistent varsity minutes that was returning for us. We had a couple others who came off the bench last year, but Allison was the only returning starter we had. She set tone in terms of work ethic and leadership from the first workout of summer last year and she carried it through the season this year.
“She was one of my two captains, and they both really do a lot of things that don’t necessarily get you articles written, but when your captains dive on the floor for loose balls, they get deflections, take charges – that plays an important role in trying to build a successful program.”
For McGowan – who started on a team that qualified for the District One tournament last season – it also meant adjusting her expectations as the season progressed.
But McGowan has no regrets about the way her senior year on the hardwood played out. Just the opposite, she considers her position as a co-captain and her additional responsibilities to have been nothing short of an honor.
“It was really a privilege to be a leader of this young group of girls, and it motivated me to do better myself,” McGowan said. “I wanted to teach them, I wanted them to learn everything I learned these four years.
“The results were difficult to accept at first. We knew we lost two great seniors that were great leaders, but we still had high hopes. I know the season didn’t go as planned in terms of number of wins, but overall, this season was my favorite in all of high school. I’m so glad to have been a part of what we’re trying to build in this program.”
As a returning starter, McGowan – who finishes her career fifth all-time in three-pointers made for South – was also a focal point for opposing defenses. Leading by example, McGowan finished the season as the Golden Hawks’ top three-point scorer, second-leading scorer, and top rebounder.
“She also led the team in charges taken,” Klumpp said. “I don’t think everyone in the conference kept track of that stat as closely as we did, but I think she’d be right at the top of the conference if everyone tracked charges more diligently.
“Allison plays hard every game, she never let down in terms of leadership and communicating well. I think what makes me the most proud of her is that you can look at her statistics and numbers, but Allison brought a lot of intangibles as well.”
One of those intangibles was her ability to remain focused – and to keep the rest of the team focused – during a season that did not go as the Golden Hawks had hoped.
“Allison has always led by example in terms of being there on time, working hard, being the first one to demonstrate or do a drill,” Klumpp said. “This year, she also evolved into vocal leader. She did a great job in her communication with teammates and always offering positive reinforcement. She really helped younger players develop this year. I think you could see with younger players like Nicole Blaustein and Claudia Steinmetz, Allison did a really good job helping those two develop.
“Her leadership qualities are a result of her parents and what they expect of her and how they raised her. She has a great set of parents and a great support system.”
McGowan was also raised with a desire to excel in the classroom as well as in athletics, and was brought up knowing the importance of helping others.
She is involved in the school’s Travis Manion Foundation Club, a community service organization.
“We go around the community and into surrounding areas helping clean up communities,” McGowan said. “We recently did a clean-up at a park in Philly.
“It’s important for me to be involved in things like this. I have so much in my life. I was given so much just by what I was born into. A lot of people don’t have that. It sucks to see that. I want to help people to get to a better life.”
McGowan is also a member of South’s French National Honor Society. Her senior year courseload includes an AP class, an Honors-level class, and two Accelerated classes. While she hasn't yet made a decision where she will attend college, she knows she will be pursuing a degree in biochemistry.
“I really love math and science and I knew I didn’t want to go into the medical field but I wanted to do something that would help people,” she said. “I looked through a bunch of majors, and with biochemistry, I can research medicine and that’s really what I want to do.”
Though she will not play basketball at the collegiate level, McGowan will bring with her the memories she has accumulated over her four years on the court at Council Rock South, memories less focused on three-pointers and District appearances, and more about time spent with those who started as teammates and ended as friends.
“It was really hard in our last game going back into locker room and realizing it was the last time I’d be taking off that jersey,” McGowan said. “It was hard to accept it the next day that I wasn’t going to go back to practice and see my teammates.
“I was always around my team. Every day we would hang out and want to be with each other. That’s what I’ve learned from sports. This is going to sound really cheesy, but you don’t really remember the games. You remember the times with your teammates. That’s been the best part of this experience.”
Though she will no longer suit up for the Golden Hawks, McGowan’s presence will be felt as the younger players return next season, a year wiser and more experienced, and better for having watched and learned from their senior co-captain.
“Allison won’t be on the court, but when this gets turned around, she will have been a major part of that,” Klumpp said. “She’s going to be extremely proud of what this team does down the line.”