Favorite athletes: Bianka Bell and Sahvanna Jaquish
Favorite team: LSU Tigers Softball
Favorite memory competing in sports: Beating second seed Neshaminy in the second round of district playoffs my senior year
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: At one of my softball tournaments over the summer, I slid into second and got a huge rip in my pants. After the game, I went to Rite Aid, and the cashier gave me some duct tape to tape my pants. I played the rest of the day with duct taped pants.
Music on your iPod: Country and Pop
Future plans: I plan to study elementary education at DeSales University while also being a part of the softball team.
Words to live by: “I can, I will, I must” –Thomas Cunningham
One goal before turning 30: Have a family and a good job
One thing people don’t know about me: I played in the Council Rock South Orchestra for four years and have been playing the violin since third grade.
By Mary Jane Souder
Stephanie Andreoli grew up with the dream of one day playing collegiate soccer.
The Council Rock South senior played for FC Bucks Premier on the club circuit, and the script appeared to be going according to plan until – during a tournament in Virginia – Andreoli suffered a back injury.
“I was on a breakaway, and it was me versus the goalie, and she kind of took my feet out from under me, and I landed on my back,” she recalled. “I didn’t think it was that serious.
“It hurt, but I was able to walk. As time went on, it got worse, but the doctors were like, ‘It’s something you were born with,’ so I thought nothing of it because they couldn’t really do anything. I heard that from three different doctors, so I figured it had to be right.”
It turned out to be a misdiagnosis, a fact that was confirmed close to a year after the collision when Andreoli – who knew something was wrong – went to CHOP looking for answers.
“The doctor said, ‘You might never be able to play sports again. You fractured your back,’” she said. “When the doctor told me he didn’t think I would be able to play ever again, I was crying.”
The diagnosis coincided with the Golden Hawks’ softball team making its first trip to the District One Tournament, but Andreoli, the team’s starting pitcher, could only watch from the sidelines.
“I went up to (coach) Greg (Heydet) even with my injury, and I was like, ‘I can go in and pitch,’” Andreoli said. “I was warming up on the sidelines, but he wouldn’t put me in. I was really, really upset.”
Andreoli wore a brace for 12 weeks and, after that, went through extensive physical therapy.
“That was the end of soccer for me,” she said.
It was, however, not the end of sports, and softball – once Andreoli’s secondary sport – became her passion. For four years, she was a fixture in the varsity lineup, and she also competed in indoor track for four years.
Tough though it was to give up soccer and sit out Rock South’s first ever postseason game, those setbacks paled in comparison to the loss Andreoli and the entire Council Rock community suffered when three Rock South students – Ryan Lesher, Shamus Digney and Cullen Keffer – were tragically killed in an accident on August 30, 2014.
“I distinctly remember the night that I got the call from my neighbor,” Andreoli said. “It was one of the worst days I have ever had in my whole entire life.
“The way that our community came together after that – I just couldn’t believe how everyone came together like a family, and they were supporting each other. It was so devastating for everybody because they were such amazing kids. It was horrible.”
Through those difficult times came life lessons.
“You have to realize you can’t take things for granted, and every day be thankful for what you have and everyone around you,” Andreoli said.
Andreoli grew up playing soccer and softball, but in her early years, softball was a distant second to soccer, although she played travel for both sports.
“My first travel (softball) team was the Northampton Rebels when I was eight,” she said. “We were a really, really young team, so when we would go to tournaments, we would get mercy ruled every single game.
“I kind of didn’t care. I was excited that I would get to go home and play soccer. Our team ended up folding. I told my mom, ‘I don’t think I’m going to play softball anymore. I’m just going to focus on soccer.’ That was a big debate for a while.”
Around that time, one of Anrdeoli’s elementary school teachers told her that there were several openings on the Warrington Thunder travel softball team. Andreoli went out for the team and earned a spot on a squad that went on to win the state championship.
It marked the beginning of Andreoli’s transition to softball, and she became an immediate contributor when she stepped onto the field as a freshman at Rock South. She not only earned the starting nod at pitcher, she also excelled at the plate, hitting .400 and following that up with back-to-back .500 seasons.
For the next three years, Andreoli pitched and also saw action in the outfield, this spring earning first team All-SOL honors in the outfield.
“Her strength is her speed on the base paths and the outfield,” coach Greg Heydet said. “She’s very fast. She has a good arm, and she had power.”
Beyond her contributions on the diamond, Andreoli – who plays for Heydet’s Blue Thunder 18U travel squad - served as a captain this year.
“She didn’t say a lot, but when she said something, she meant it,” Heydet said. “She was close to a lot of players, and she was a real good teammate.
“She loves the game of softball, she’s intelligent, and she’s a great kid. I enjoyed coaching her for four years.”
Andreoli also excelled in the classroom and was the recipient of a lengthy list of awards/scholarships that included the Jenna Fallon Memorial Scholarship, the Thomas Wood Memorial Scholarship (given in memory of Andreoli’s uncle who passed away at the age of 21), the Council Rock Administrators Scholarship, the Susan Scherer Memorial Scholarship, the Family and Consumer Science Excellence Award and the CRUSA Ryan Lesher Memorial Student-Athlete Award.
“The one that really sticks out was the Ryan Lesher Memorial Student-Athlete Award,” Andreoli said. “I was really good friends with him all throughout elementary school and middle school.
“I was really close with their family, so that meant a lot to me.”
This fall, Andreoli will attend DeSales University where she will major in elementary education with the goal of one day following in the footsteps of her mother, Carol, who is an elementary school teacher.
“Ever since I was young, I would go in and help her set up her classroom and help her do different activities,” Andreoli said.
Andreoli was a member of the National Honor Society and Rho Kappa National Honor Society. She also played violin in the school orchestra.
She will continue her softball career at DeSales.
“I knew I definitely wanted to play a sport,” she said. “I thought it was soccer, but after not playing soccer and playing softball all these years, I realized I really do love softball.
“I wanted to do track also because my last track meet of the season I did really well and almost qualified for states. At DeSales, you have to run indoor track and spring track, so I won’t be able to do that.”
Andreoli and her fellow seniors leave Rock South knowing they laid the foundation for a program that reached new heights this season.
“I was really thankful to be a part of the team all four years, but this year we went really far,” she said. “That was the farthest South has ever been.
“I was really proud of the team and the coaches. The dedication and hard work that everyone put in – it really paid off in the end.”