Favorite athlete: Tim Lincecum
Favorite team: San Francisco Giants
Favorite memory competing in sports: My favorite memory was Senior Night when we beat Plymouth Whitemarsh.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: A few times this season I did a cartwheel when taking the field before games started (in full pads).
Music on mobile device: The Red Hot Chili Peppers or anything Alternative
Future plans: Attend Emerson College and major in journalism
Words to live by: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
One goal before turning 30: Pay off college debt.
One thing people don’t know about me: I have a fraternal twin sister.
By Mary Jane Souder
There’s an obscure YouTube video of Anissa Gardizy – then just in sixth grade – holding a mug in her right hand and smiling broadly into the Oak Park Television camera, looking for all the world as though she’s been doing this her entire life.
An animated Gardizy begins her brief clip about the recent visit of a representative of the Philadelphia Zoo with a spirited introduction.
“This is Anissa Gardizy bringing you the latest and greatest from Oak Park Television,” she said.
Her closing is the same as her intro but this time includes Gardizy pointing at the camera and – when finished – casually taking a sip from her mug.
“They’re super embarrassing,” Gardizy said of the old clips, and she cringes when she recalls a Valentine’s Day show at Penndale Middle School.
“I was writing the script, and I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea at the time, but every line was a Valentine’s Day pun or pickup line,” she said. “Me and the other anchor were cracking up the whole time at ourselves. I’m not sure if anyone else laughed.”
There haven’t been many of those moments for the North Penn senior, who’s been at home behind the camera ever since her Oak Park Elementary days.
“It never seemed like a career path or passion,” Gardizy said. “I did it at Penndale Middle School and then I did it in high school. All of a sudden I realized in high school – if I’ve been doing this since sixth grade, it’s definitely something I’m interested in. Once I realized it could be a career path, that’s when I started getting more involved and devoting more time to it. It was always a fun hobby. I never thought it would be what it is now.”
These days Gardizy is equally comfortable in front of the camera or directing those who are in her role as director at North Penn Television. Half of her school day is devoted to NPTV as part of her career studies, and that’s just one piece of Gardizy’s jam-packed life.
She is also the editor of The Knight Crier, the school’s digital newspaper, and she is president of the Student Government. In her spare time last fall, she put on the goalie pads and anchored the defense of North Penn’s field hockey team.
“Anissa is a once-in-a-career kind of student,” said Knight Crier advisor Kevin Manero, who is also the Knights’ varsity baseball coach. “It is rare to see someone not only so involved in so many aspects of our school culture and climate, but also so genuinely and authentically passionate about the contributions she makes.
“I often find myself wishing there was an eighth day in the week so I can get everything done. I think Anissa has found that eighth day hiding somewhere. To be so invested academically with AP courses, athletically with field hockey, as a leader in student government, NPTV, and oh, also as an editor for The Knight Crier... need I say more?"
In her first season as varsity goalie last fall, Gardizy earned first team all-league honors in the hockey rich Continental Conference. She also was co-MVP of her squad. Those are impressive accomplishments by any standard but especially for someone who wasn’t part of the club circuit.
In many ways, Gardizy’s career followed an unusual script, but then again, the North Penn senior is hardly your typical student-athlete. She somehow found a way to quite literally do it all. and no one, it seems, feels the least bit shortchanged.
“She’s one in a million,” field hockey coach Shannon McCracken sad. “She inspired me.
“She inspired me that she was that mature and had time management skills.”
Those time management skills were underscored when the Knights had Friday field hockey games and Gardizy – The Knight Crier beat writer for North Penn football - had to leave immediately after the final horn to arrive at North Penn’s football game in time for the kickoff.
“We have a strict rule – you ride the bus home,” McCracken said. “I don’t want them getting in their parents’ cars. I like them to be a team, a family, but when she needed to leave after an away game to go to a football game, she always found ways that her teammates knew that field hockey was very important to her. They supported her as much as she supported her teammates. It was a really cool thing to watch because you don’t have that maturity from every kid that comes along.”
By the time Gardizy had her football game story written and posted, it was well past midnight. Despite the extra effort required, she lists covering the football team the past two years as one of her very best experiences.
“I remember writing my first football article – it was pretty bad,” she said with a laugh. “I wasn’t proud of it at all. I basically just went out there and tried my best.
“I ended up going to every football game. I was probably just as sad when the football season ended as the senior players because that was my last game covering them. That had the most impact on my writing because it basically took me from start to finish for high school. I could track my improvement. Those were pretty big articles for me to write.”
After those late Friday nights, Gardizy was up bright and early for Saturday morning practices at 8 a.m.
“She would show up to practice and you wouldn’t see any tiredness,” McCracken said. “It was amazing. I’m like – how does she do it?”
In late fall, with her field hockey team heading into the district tournament, Gardizy was accepted into an internship program at KYW that involved going to the station on Saturdays, meaning she would miss hockey practice.
“Before I said it, Anissa said, ‘I’ll get some of the forwards and we’ll go to the turf on Sunday. We’ll work out, and I’ll get my reps in,’” McCracken said. “I can’t say enough about her.”
Gardizy and twin sister Ariana grew up playing sports. Both competed in track, field hockey and basketball until they reached high school.
“We always had sports equipment in our back yard,” she said. “We were always trying to learn a new sport.
“Having a twin definitely had an impact on my athletic career.”
In ninth grade, Ariana opted to give up field hockey in favor of cross country, a story that had an equally happy ending as she will be continuing her running career at the University of Pennsylvania.
“We still stayed really supportive of each other,” Gardizy said.
After watching Gardizy playing hockey in a spring league as an eighth grader, McCracken - impressed with her athleticism – had an idea and floated it by the rising ninth grader at tryouts.
“Anissa was playing more defense, and she was like a wall,” the Knights’ coach said. “She had raw skills, and she had a great attitude.
“I said, ‘We don’t have a goalkeeper coming in. Have you ever played it?’”
Gardizy didn’t dismiss the idea of going into goal.
“I was trying out for the high school team as a forward because that’s what I was in middle school,” Gardizy said. “My sister and I were a duo – we liked scoring.
“When my coach approached me during tryouts asking me if I wanted to become a goalkeeper, the first thought in my mind was – why would she want me to be a goalkeeper? I’m a forward and I have no experience at all, but I was also thinking – is this the only way of making the high school team? So I told her I would come out with the other goalies and see if I liked it.”
Gardizy – who enjoyed working with veteran goalies Marissa Elizardo and Brynne Schoppe – had found a new home.
“My freshman year was weird because I was not used to it at all, and it was kind of awkward, but I was glad I stuck with it,” she said. “She actually let me play forward during some of the jayvee games because I had so much energy, so up until senior year, she let me on the field for five minutes at a time. I actually scored a goal for jayvee.”
As a senior, it was the saves – many of the acrobatic variety – that set Gardizy apart in the cage.
“Anissa didn’t have all that club training that everybody lives and dies by now,” McCracken said. “Knowing the position would be hers, she took it as a challenge – I’m going to be the best goalie I can be for the team.
“She’s so athletic, and she was probably one of the strongest mentally tough kids we had on the team this year. She rose to the occasion. She was always – ‘I’m going to get the job done’ type of kid.”
Gardizy reminded her coach of another standout goalie, Chess Kownurko, who went on to play at VCU.
“She was willing to take risks because her athleticism was so phenomenal she could make that dive,” McCracken said. “She could run out to an approaching player because she was so athletic and she could recover.
“After games, coaches would say, ‘Where’s your goalie going? She’s fantastic.’ She saved our butts in so many games.”
In addition to making stops, Gardizy was a calming presence in the backfield.
“She’s so intelligent and well spoken,” McCracken said. “The kids really responded to her in the team huddles.
“She didn’t speak all the time, but when she would speak, her teammates would listen. She had great things to contribute.”
Gardizy admits she was never quite sure she would measure up to the goalies who played year round.
“I remember we went to a tournament last summer, and CB West was there,” she said. “I remember warming up with their goalies, and they were talking about being recruited and where they’re going to college.
“My initial thinking was – am I going to be as good as the other goalies in our league? That was kind of intimidating at first. A lot of the goalies in our league play club, and just knowing that I didn’t – what were people going to think? Were their forwards going to think I was an easy goalie?”
Gardizy needn’t have worried. When the dust had settled, she was voted the best by opposing coaches.
“The season was so much fun, and it was very sad to see it end, especially knowing I won’t be playing in college,” the Knights’ senior goalie said.
In order to devote more time to her many extra curriculars, Gardizy, who also excelled at discus, opted to walk away from indoor and spring track.
Although hockey won’t be part of Gardizy’s college experience, writing will be as she plans to major in journalism at Emerson College.
“My dream job would be to be a journalist,” she said. “I honestly don’t see my dream job being on air.
“Maybe I could be a reporter, but I really want to be a journalist and focus on the writing part.”
Gardizy’s passion for journalism has little to do with being in front of a camera or seeing her name in print and everything with sharing the news.
“At the high school, it’s a big production, and sometimes it scares people away,” she said. “But what I liked about it was that not everyone can attend every event and not everyone knows every little thing that’s happening around the high school, but if you can wrap it up into a quick story – we have 3,000 kids, so I just like that we can show something that not everyone knows through the television show.”
Gardizy is still in front of the camera for the district-wide show the last Tuesday of every month, but for the most part, the one-time anchor is now the director.
“I’m seeing it from a completely different angle, and I really like, it,” she said.
Although half her day is spent in career studies, Gardizy’s course load is still heavy duty with two AP classes as well as a science class, and if there’s an extra task at North Penn, Gardizy can be counted on to get it done.
When it came time to make a highlight video for the hockey team, Gardizy handled the job. McCracken recalls the Town Hall meeting organized by Gardizy prior to last fall’s election.
“It was all student-led,” the Knights’ field hockey coach said. “She organized the entire thing, and she was doing all this and was this phenomenal goalie that had an amazing season.
“The amount she has on her plate – she amazes me. She’s a special kid.”
“Anissa is the kind of kid North Penn School District should highlight and publicize every chance they can,” Manero said. “She is the true embodiment of what public education can do for a kid and what a kid can do for public education.”