Favorite athlete: TJ McConnell
Favorite teams:Sixers and the Phillies
Favorite memory competing in sports: Beating Neshaminy in basketball on our senior night in three overtimes with all of our family and friends there watching.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Scoring on the wrong basket in a basketball game when I was little.
Music on mobile device: Pretty much anything from country to rap - I listen to it all
Future plans: To attend James Madison University as a Business Management major
Words to live by: “Never make the same mistake twice. Learn from your experiences, and strive to improve yourself every single day.”
One goal before turning 30: To travel and experience how different cultures live and go about their lives.
One thing people don’t know about me: I like talking in front of people. I don’t mind public speaking.
By Ed Morrone
In sports, it’s easy to get carried away by a player who scores the most points or hits the highest volume of home runs. After all, athletics is a numbers game, so it’s only fair to measure quality by quantity, or vice versa.
But that wouldn’t come close to measuring the impact and value Alex Wadsworth had on the basketball and baseball programs at William Tennent — as well as the entire school community.
Wadsworth didn’t become a varsity player in both sports until his junior year and was only a full-time starter once - for the baseball program as a senior. On the diamond, he hit in the bottom third of the order, posting a respectable batting average between .260-.270. On the hardwood, Wadsworth was Tennent’s backup point guard, an energy and glue guy off the bench who played fierce defense and led by example.
However, dig a little deeper and you begin to hear tales of a young man who was and has always been a team-first, vocal leader whose teammates gravitated toward. Wadsworth instantly gained the respect of players and coaches alike, and it didn’t take until his varsity campaigns to build that credibility and accountability.
“His leadership mentality was always pretty evident, even when he was a freshman,” Tennent basketball coach Robert Mulville said. “Even though he was never a varsity starter, the kids listened to him. They trusted him to make the right decisions because he is smart and because of his ability to communicate with everyone. Despite not being a starter or leading scorer, he commanded respect. He always put the team ahead of himself. That’s just the way Alex is.”
Rick Fedele is a Tennent assistant baseball coach but has the unique perspective of having coached Wadsworth on the freshman team, then the jayvee team and finally the last two years as a varsity player — one as a player off the bench, and one as a full-time starter at first base.
Fedele spun a tale similar to Mulville’s: Wadsworth was a confident, vocal and reliable leader as a ninth grader, something that perpetuated for four years. He rose through the ranks as a second baseman, but when he finally got his chance to start as a senior and was asked to move to first base because the team needed it, he never asked any questions.
“His heart was at second base, but he knew what he had to do for the team,” Fedele said. “Alex has always been very selfless in that sense. He moved to first without hesitation, and he filled that role exceptionally, becoming one of the best defensive first basemen in the league. (He was) just an exceptional leader, a humble young man and a genuinely great kid.”
Of course, Wadsworth wanted to be a varsity player in both sports for all four years, but he thinks being a trusted leader on the freshman and jayvee teams — as opposed to a timid freshman and sophomore at the varsity level — aided in his development and overall confidence to play the role he did once he got to the big stage.
And as far as being a selfless leader goes, well, that’s just ingrained in Wadsworth’s DNA. It’s who he is.
“That’s always a quality I’ve had,” he said. “I’m an upbeat person. Talking and communicating with people comes easily to me, so I have no problem giving advice to teammates and being vocal. Some might not like speaking up and telling a kid when he’s doing something wrong, especially if it’s a friend, but it’s not something I have trouble with.
“So, I think not playing varsity right away was the best option for me, even if I did think I could compete at a higher level. The development I got in both sports really helped me in the long run, just learning the fundamentals of both pretty well.”
Once he got to the varsity level, Wadsworth had to earn everything and was given nothing - just the way he likes it. He was so much more than a backup point guard: Wadsworth was the adhesive that held the Panthers together, never letting his team quit despite the fact that Tennent won just 11 of its 33 games in his two varsity seasons.
Mulville spoke of an especially rocky period this past January when the basketball team dropped a string of games, but Wadsworth remained the calming presence.
“It was a rough stretch, and things were not going well,” the Panthers’ coach said. “Alex wouldn’t let the ship sink. He just wouldn’t allow it to happen. We ended up winning some games by the end of the season after losing a whole bunch.”
For Wadsworth, packing it in was not an option, especially not in his final high school season.
“When you go on a losing streak like that, sometimes it’s hard to see the bigger picture,” he said. “I just try not to get caught up in it, and having a broader scope helps me have a cooler mindset. When you’re losing, there’s not much you can do about it but go to practice every single day, work hard and keep trying your best.”
Within the baseball program, Fedele described Wadsworth as a representation of the coaching staff on the field. Wadsworth classified himself as a team-first guy through and through, which would explain why he leaped at the opportunity to play first base, a position he had only played during fall ball between junior and senior year.
“The transition was a little difficult, but I offered to try it,” Wadsworth said. “Why not take a shot? Like anything new, it was rough at first, but I eventually got the hang of it and don’t think I did too badly. Baseball is such a mental game. You have to have a certain mindset and just be ready for every pitch and what to do at all times.
“I continued to work hard and just do my thing and was willing to help the team in the field or at the bottom of the lineup, whether that meant bunting, executing a hit-and-run, hitting a grounder to move a runner over - anything to help the team win some games.”
Recently, the Tennent baseball team had its year-end banquet, and Fedele told a story how Wadsworth approached the coaching staff and asked if he could write and deliver a speech to the team, a message that conveyed how much he loved and appreciated each and every member of the squad.
While standing in front of a room full of people and delivering a speech might sound like a nightmare to most teenagers — and most people in general — Wadsworth, a confident public speaker, felt like it was the right thing to do. Not only did he want to express his appreciation to the eight seniors who would be graduating with him, but Wadsworth also had a message to the remaining holdover players.
“My overall message was to just keep working hard,” he said. “With nine of us leaving, that’s nine spots open for younger players. I wanted to tell them to keep working hard to improve our program. We may not have had a lot of success in my four years here, but the only way we’ll get better is having that next-man-up approach. I told them to work hard in the offseason and stay focused on their goals.”
Given the maturity Wadsworth exhibits in athletics, it’s no surprise to learn he boasts a 3.7 GPA in the classroom. Wadsworth loves History, and credits his freshman U.S. History teacher, Paul Veltre — also a Tennent assistant basketball coach — for providing an early mindset to be the best person he can be in all aspects of life.
In the fall, Wadsworth will be off to James Madison University. There, he will study Business Management, an interest he picked up junior year when he and two classmates did a project for English class on something they thought could be improved in the Tennent community. They settled on TruMark Financial Credit Union, a bank which has seven branches designated for students, faculty and staff at area high schools and colleges, including one on campus at Tennent.
“There’s a branch right in the lobby at school,” he said. “Everybody walks right by it, and I guess it’s not a popular place to be. We looked at it as an opportunity to teach kids to use it as a resource and take more pride in their financials. Things like opening a bank account, building credit and using credit cards.
“Some local managers from branches in Warrington and Richboro came to watch our presentation and ended up offering us paid internships. I didn’t have a job at the time and it was at the end of the school year, so I went in for a week of training and worked at the Warrington branch three days a week during the summer. Once school started, I worked at the branch on campus for 90 minutes during lunch. I got paid and I learned a lot. I got a credit card and started building my own credit and tried to teach myself and kids at school more about financial literacy.”
Wadsworth was also a captain for Tennent’s Black & White Night, a three-night school tradition in its 54th year that includes a gym night, a pool night and an academic day competition. It’s the school’s biggest annual spirit event, and Wadsworth was integral in ensuring it was a success.
“It was just another leadership opportunity,” he said. “I met and made relationships with kids in all grades and of all ages. It was a lot of fun, maybe my favorite high school memory.”
Wadsworth is also a member of the school’s Athletic Council, Student Government and the Future Business Leaders of America, a national business honor society. When he finally gets to ditch his many responsibilities and just be a kid, Wadsworth said he loves playing Xbox and pickup basketball with friends, simply because he’s addicted to any kind of competition.
Listening to his coaches, it’s evident that Wadsworth has left a major imprint on the Tennent community, and the same can be said of all the people Wadsworth has met over the last four years, the ones who helped shape him into the confident young man he is today.
In fact, it’s what he’ll miss most about Tennent, and he admitted it will be strange to be away from all of that when he calls Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley home for the next four years. However, Wadsworth will never forget this time in his life, years that he will always hold close to his heart.
“The relationships and friendships I’ve made - I just met so many great people in sports and in the community,” he said. “Going to school in Virginia is going to be difficult, but I’m going to keep those people and friendships close to me. Being away from so many amazing people, that will be the biggest change for me and the thing that I’ll miss the most.