Favorite athlete: Amanda Lorenz who played on the Florida Gators along with Miranda Elish of the Texas Longhorns
Favorite team: I love watching collegiate softball and some of my favorite teams to watch are Texas and UCLA because they both have dominating pitchers that can also hit really well.
Favorite memory competing in sports: While on my previous travel team, Horsham Banshees, I hit a home run in the eighth inning during international tiebreakers of the semifinal game of nationals. We moved on to the finals and won it all.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: When I was little and played basketball, I ran into a clear glass wall when I tried to leave the court.
Music on mobile device: I love all types of music, but my favorite genre is country.
Future plans: I will attend Lehigh University where I plan to study biomedical engineering while continuing my softball career.
Words to live by: “A little progress each day adds up to big results, so keep working hard.”
One goal before turning 30: I obviously want to be a successful engineer, but what I want most is to begin starting a family of my own by the time I turn 30.
One thing people don’t know about me: I have a couple hidden talents, which include juggling and solving a Rubik’s cube in under two minutes.
By Mary Jane Souder
“Who’s ready to change the world?”
It’s the question North Penn engineering instructor Michael Boyer greeted his students with every day when they entered his classroom. He had a taker in Amanda Greaney.
The North Penn senior made “Let’s change the world” the mantra for her final year of high school.
“That’s been my motto since the beginning of the year,” Greaney said. “Let’s change the world on the softball field, in the classroom, in the engineering class and out in the world just making people’s lives better.”
Anyone thinking that might be overly ambitious for a high school senior obviously doesn’t know Greaney.
Ranked 23rd in her senior class of 1,128, Greaney is a difference maker both on and off the softball field. A co-captain of her softball team, the first team All-SOL Continental Conference and second team all-state catcher hit .417 during the regular season last year for a District One 4A runner-up Knight squad that captured the conference crown and advanced to the state quarterfinals.
A dangerous power hitter, she is North Penn’s career leader in home runs and walks and was just eight RBIs shy of the program record.
“She started every game since ninth grade, and she is the best catcher I’ve ever had,” said softball coach Rick Torresani, who has been at the helm at North Penn for 20 years. “She knows every aspect fundamentally of being a catcher, and she’s basically known that since she was in ninth grade.”
Numbers, however, tell only part of the story.
“She’s very, very intelligent,” Torresani said. “She knows the pitchers. I really give Amanda a lot of credit for how well (pitcher) Mady (Volpe) has done. She’ll go out and calm her down, make her smile.
“She is a constant in the weight room at Relentless Athletics. She got Mady to go and in one year increased her speed eight miles an hour. Amanda has pretty much led quite a few girls to go and lift weights in the offseason.”
With a pair of all-state players at pitcher and catcher in Volpe and Greaney, the Knights boasted arguably the best battery in the state. Their sights were set on bringing home some serious hardware in a season that ended before it began because of the COVID-19 pandemic
“This was the season we were going to win it,” Greaney said. “Especially for us seniors, this is so heartbreaking.
“We had so many good freshmen coming up. We went out of last season with unfinished business – I know that’s cliché, but it’s so true. We fought in that 11-inning battle (a 2-0 loss to Central Dauphin in the state quarterfinals), and we came back hungry as ever, starting in September and working hard throughout the whole school year.
“Leading up to the moment when our coach told us it was officially over, there was a glimmer of hope, and I was holding onto that glimmer. Once coach told us it was over, it was so heartbreaking. Every time I think about it, it’s like going through heartbreak over and over and over again. We had such a promising season ahead of us, but obviously, we can’t do anything about it. It’s beyond our control.”
The softball diamond isn’t the only place Greaney had unfinished business. As part of her Engineering Design and Development class, Greaney and two classmates were in the midst of a mind-boggling project to generate energy from a most unusual source.
“Basically, the whole year is dedicated to just picking a topic of something you want to fix or work on to help improve the human condition in the world,” Greaney said. “We wanted to make tabs that were put in the soles of your shoes, and every time you walk and every step you take they generate electricity, and it stores in your shoe, and you can charge your devices just from walking.
“It’s better for the environment and promotes exercise. We’ve made the tabs, and we were working on making the circuit.”
Greaney’s team was one of several North Penn teams from her engineering class to participate in Drexel University’s Philly Materials Engineering and Science Day in early February. The event included numerous colleges with North Penn the only high school represented.
“It was cool because we were presenting our work next to PhD students at Penn,” Greaney said. “You see people from kids just learning how to walk to older senior citizens, and they’re all amazed with what we’re working on in high school.
“They’re like, ‘Is this being sold in the markets right now? Do you have this out there right now?’ I was lucky enough to go to North Penn which has such an extensive engineering program compared to other schools even in the state and country. It’s crazy what we’re doing here.”
Unfortunately, the team could not see the project through to completion.
“We were literally in the middle of all of our experiments and all of our research,” Greaney said. “Wherever we ended, that’s where it stands. We can’t continue it anymore. At this point, we’ve been putting together project proposals – the reason behind the work, the problem we’re trying to solve, why we came up with the idea and then all of our experiments and everything we found and discovered.
“We’re just making documents at this point for students next year if they have an interest to continue our research. We’re also trying to plan a virtual symposium, and hopefully online we can do a virtual display of our research and all we’ve accomplished this year even though it’s cut short.”
Greaney has not ruled out the possibility of continuing the project this fall when she enrolls at Lehigh University where she will major in biomedical engineering.
“The pieces were finally starting to come together, and we were getting close, but we couldn’t get there,” she said. “All three of us will be going to different colleges, so we can’t do it together. If anything, we could do it separately and collaborate, but I don’t know where that will stand.
“There’s so much uncertainty, which makes it so hard to handle, but I’m holding out hope for a lot of things which really keeps me going.”
Greaney can’t recall a time when softball wasn’t part of her life.
“I bet I could find a picture in our house of me holding a whiffle ball bat in my hand just after I learned to walk,” she said. “I know I was always playing softball.”
The North Penn senior also played soccer and basketball.
“I played all three travel sports, which was very busy,” Greaney said. “I did not have much time as a kid. It got to the point where my parents were like, ‘Okay, you’ve got to drop one - drop one at a time.’
“I dropped soccer first and I did basketball and softball. I don’t know how to describe it – the feeling was my heart was in softball.”
It was the same feeling Greaney got when she walked onto Lehigh University’s campus.
“I don’t know how to describe it, but this is my home, this is where I belong,” she said. “I’ve known since I was young I wanted to play softball.
“If I’m being 100 percent honest, I didn’t know if I wanted to play softball in college until sophomore year. Once I hit sophomore year and I was just sitting in class waiting for the last bell to ring so I could go play in that game – I was like, ‘I can’t lose this feeling. What am I going to do when I’m in college knowing there’s a softball team out there and I’m not part of it? I can’t do that to myself. I need to play every minute that I can,’ and I’m so grateful I got the opportunity to do that.”
From the moment she stepped onto the diamond in ninth grade, Greaney was an impact player, a rare four-year starter behind the plate.
“I could say since she was a sophomore she was the backbone to keep everything together when things didn’t go well,” Torresani said. “The younger kids could look to her, and she was a calming influence.”
The Knights’ coach recalled last year’s team trip to Disney World.
“I was watching Amanda, and on her own, she just gravitated towards the ninth graders, stayed with them to make sure they were okay, made sure they were in their rooms,” Torresani said. “That’s the type of girl she is. She’s not out for all the accolades.
“With all the travel teams and all the ‘I want to go D-I, I’ll go as far as I can as an athlete and do the best I can for myself.’ Amanda does all that, but she doesn’t do it for herself. Yes, she wanted to get a college scholarship. When she got hurt (the fall of) junior year and for three weeks couldn’t catch because of an injury, she went to every tournament and sat on the bench. That’s who she is.”
Sitting on the bench for her travel team in the fall of 2018 due to a torn tendon in her foot pales in comparison to missing out on her entire senior season.
“Yes, it was heartbreaking to sit and watch them play and know I couldn’t play with them, but this now gives a whole new light,” Greaney said. “I was so lucky I could still watch them, watch the sport I love and watch my family play on that field and support them as best I could.
“If I would have had to do that now, I would have loved that so much more just to be part of the sport and be around my team. Being away from them for this long is so hard.”
Letting go of the dream of a possible run to a state title has not been easy, and Greaney has not forgotten the feeling when Torresani gave the team the news that the season was being halted for two weeks the day before the team’s first scrimmage due to the pandemic.
“I was so in shock,” Greaney said. “When he told us there’s a good chance our season was over before it began, I just started crying. Tears could not stop falling from my eyes, and I looked over at my fellow seniors, and we were all so upset about it.
“Last year I was the last batter of that (state quarterfinal loss), and it just broke my heart that I couldn’t get it done for my team at that moment,” Greaney said of the Central Dauphin loss. “I know it’s a team sport – we’re all a team and together, and when one of us is in the batter’s box – yes, there’s only two feet in the batter’s box, but you have 28 girls standing on your shoulders, encouraging you to do as good as they know you can.
“The fact that we had such a great team this year. Just in practice, I’d look at coach and say, ‘Where did these girls come from?’ Everyone had so much heart on the field, and you could see it in their eyes, in their body language. Everyone wanted to be there. No one was complaining. Everyone was there to play to win.”
Torresani allowed the seniors an opportunity to choose how they wanted to spend what turned out to be the team’s final practice on their home field.
“It was so heartwarming,” Greaney said. “Us seniors got to hit on that field one more time. Coach just pitched to us. It wasn’t formal or anything, but we all got a whole bucket of balls to just hit at the plate on that field one last time, and that just meant the world to us.”
Although the Knights never had a chance to play out the season, Greaney will always believe this team – which shared a special camaraderie - could have won it all.
“If I had to go in a schoolyard and in front of all the softball players in the area and had to pick out which players I wanted on my team, I would pick the team I had right now 100 percent,” Greaney said. “We were the team to beat. I don’t want to sound cocky about that, but I was so confident in this team.”
Looking down the road, Greaney is looking to go into the field of prosthetics.
“I want to be able to make prosthetics for soldiers who lost a limb in war or if someone has diabetes and they lost a limb or if someone has a birth defect,” she said. “I want to give them a chance at a normal life and make a prosthetic that can change their life.”
Torresani is certain his star catcher will be a difference maker.
“I just love her to death, and the good thing about her – I know in four, five or six years, she’s going to be somewhere where she’s not only helping herself, but she’s helping a lot of people, no matter where she goes,” the Knights’ coach said.
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