Cross Country, Track
Favorite athlete: Mo Farah
Favorite team: Philadelphia Phillies
Favorite memory competing in sports: Going on the Six Flags Great Adventure Safari Run overnight trip with the team my freshman and junior years. It was a great team bonding and awesome experience all around.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: During my freshman year at the Great Adventure overnight trip, a seagull pooped on me while the team was warming up for the freshman race. Embarrassed that I was pooped on, a parent told me that the Romans thought birds pooping on people was a good luck message (in superstition), not a bad thing to happen. After the race began, I found myself leading the race and not knowing where to go. I ended up taking a wrong turn, adding on a half mile to the race, and somehow still managing to win. Definitely a funny, embarrassing, and memorable moment that I’ll never forget!
Music on iPod: Anything from Classic Rock to Rap. No preference!
Future plans: Study mathematics or physics in college next year.
Words to live by: “Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” Sir Winston Churchill
One goal before turning 30: Run a marathon!
One thing people don’t know about me: I am actively involved in Boy Scouts of America and have the rank of Eagle Scout.
By Gordon Glantz
An axiom passing the test of time: It’s not what you say but what you do that counts.
And what Connor McMenamin, the Univest Male Featured Athlete of the Week, did for the Souderton track team one day two years ago still reverberates.
“He helped us beat Pennridge in track in 2014 by running multiple events with no rest,” said Souderton coach John Donahue. “He makes many sacrifices for the team.”
After missing last spring's track season with a bone stress reaction, the “sacrifice” against the neighborhood rival Rams remains vivid in McMenamin’s mind.
“It was my sophomore year and we were in a real close meet with Pennridge, who were the champions that year,” said McMenamin.
His day appeared done after finishing third in the 1600 and a “narrow second” in the 800, but one didn’t need his 4.6 weighted GPA and be an aspiring math or physics major at either the Naval Academy or Bucknell to do the simple math.
What stood between a season-defining win and close loss was the need for his team to place at least third in the pending 3200.
A distance event, on such little rest, seemed to be pushing the bounds of reality.
“I heard the score, and I walked over to the coaches and I said I wanted to run the 3200,” said McMenamin, adding that the initial response was, at best, a yellow light.
But his persistence turned it to green.
“I said, ‘No way am I walking off this track without the team winning,’” he recalled. “I ran the race, I got third place and we won the meet.”
And the respect and admiration of the team, from the coaches to the older runners to fellow underclassmen.
It was no mistake that his teammates voted him captain as a junior.
“It was a great meet for the track program,” said Donahue. “I was reluctant at first as I was worried about injury, since he was only a 10th grader. I also thought he had a lot of confidence and heart. Many seniors would have never even considered doing that because it is so tough.”
Mother Knows Best
Through middle school, McMenamin was a multi-sport athlete and planned on focusing more on soccer and/or water polo at the high school level.
His mother, Debbie – with support from his dad, Patrick – envisioned another path, basing her opinion on a maternal instinct.
“I had played soccer since I was in diapers,” said McMenamin, whose older sister, Catelyn, swam for Souderton and then Washington College in Maryland. “When I ran middle school track, though, my mom saw the drive I had that was there more than any other sport.”
So, pun intended, he “ran with it.”
“It definitely altered my life,” he said. “It was the best thing I could have done. The fact that I’m here now is because I heeded their advice.”
Coupled with his near flawless academic record, along with multiple activities – National Honor Society, Principal-Souderton Advisory Council, Jazz Band and being an Eagle Scout – his prowess in cross country and track has created exciting opportunities.
While working through the arduous application process for the Naval Academy, McMenamin is not putting all his eggs into that basket.
Bucknell has a stellar track program, and its status in the Patriot League says all there is to say about its academic reputation.
He calls the pending decision “neck and neck” as his senior year commences.
“I’m just going to see how things rolls,” explained McMenamin, who said his interest in a military academy was more recent than lifelong aspiration. “(Acceptance at Anapolis) is not guaranteed. It’s still up in the air. I really like Navy and Bucknell. I just have to keep my options open.
“I’m aware of the commitment (involved in the Naval Academy). It’s a career as well. Bucknell has a good reputation and is also in the Patriot League. It is just going to be a matter of what do I want more.”
Whatever the future holds, he has mountains of gratitude for all who helped put him in this position.
“I’m thankful to have loving parents, great coaches and faculty at Souderton,” he said. “I can’t be in any better of a place than where I am in my life right now.”
It would be easy for McMenamin to just forget about his junior year, but he would prefer to put it into proper perspective and use the frustration as fuel to move on.
“I definitely have a lot to prove this year,” he said. “They say your junior year is tough, academically. For me, it was also tough athletically and mentally.”
It didn’t start off that way, though.
During the cross country season in the fall, he made history, literally, in a tri-meet with CB West and Quakertown when he ran a school-record 15:57.
He still remembers the surreal feeling of crossing the finish line and seeing the time, and understood how the stars aligned to make it happen.
“There were a number of factors,” he said. “The competition – CB West and Quakertown – really pushed me, and I felt the pace.”
In the postseason, he placed third in the league and seventh in the district. When the state meet rolled around, he was unceremoniously hit with flu-like symptoms. Nonetheless, he was battling for 10th place when he succumbed to his illness and fell. He got up and finished the race, but was out of medal contention.
“I went from 10th to 41st,” he recalled.
In typical fashion, he bounced back in the winter track season to place sixth in the mile and earn a state medal.
However, while training for the much-anticipated spring season, he sustained the bone stress reaction and was out of action for the duration.
There was no exact moment when the injury happen, other than it was the likely product of “too much mileage” on the bone.
“I was still captain, but it was disappointing,” he said. “I missed the rest of the season.”
And that meant time away from the rest of the team, in the swimming pool – and other places – rehabbing.
“It was frustrating, “he said “There were times when I was thinking, ‘Why me?’ But I was self-reflective. Tough days don’t last, tough people do.”
However, he couldn’t stay away. Being with his team was part of his wellness plan.
“I was always there, timing guys at practice,” he said. “I felt like I had to be there for my teammates and I was thankful for every moment. Injuries aren’t fun.”
For athletes, injuries are the ultimate form of adversity, and coaches take note of how they react.
“Yes,” confirmed Donahue. “It was so tough on him not being able to train and compete, but he was there every day and doing as much as he could on the bike to maintain fitness. Many times a kid gets hurt and you don't see them the rest of the year. The fact that he was at practice on the bike every single day was very impressive to his coaches and members of the team.”
As it stands now, he feels healthy and ready to pick up where he left off, entering his senior year as the captain of the cross country team and the second-year captain of the track team.
“It’s a huge honor,” he said. “The coach allows the guys on the team to vote for people as captains. To be selected by my peers is just a huge honor.”
McMenamin sees himself as a vocal leader, who combines tough love with words of encouragement, but realizes that none of that replaces leading by example.
And crossing the finish line first – or sacrificing for the good of the team, like that spring day against Pennridge in 2014 – is the best way to do it.
He maintains the same amount of drive and desire for running that his mother spotted years ago.
“I definitely have a lot to prove, a lot that I want to accomplish,” he said. “I have learned how to block out the white noise, and I’m excited for this year.
“What I couldn’t obliterate before, I hope to obliterate this year.”