Favorite athlete: J’den Cox (US wrestling)
Favorite team: Chicago Bears
Favorite memory: Chilling in the ice baths with the team during mini camp.
Funniest memory: Freshman year we were playing Wissahicken and I had to play the game in one cleat because I lost the second one and I picked up the nickname “the one cleat wonder” which has been an inside joke on the team ever since
Music on mobile device: A little bit of everything, depends on my mood
Future plans: Wrestle at the United States Military Academy (Army) West Point
Favorite motto: “Be the hardest worker in the room.”
One goal before turning 30: I don’t know, I’m more of a go with the flow person... whatever happens happens.
By Ed Morrone
When John Greiner accepted the head football coach position at Council Rock North back in May, he was once again the new kid on the block, returning to the Suburban One after four seasons in charge of the football program at Bristol.
Greiner, a former assistant with the mighty Pennsbury Falcons, knew the league well; however, the difficulties in getting the Council Rock North program headed back toward respectability were written in ink on the wall. The Indians had won a single game in each of the three previous seasons, so despite Greiner’s history within the league, the veteran coach was going to need some help with the transition.
Enter senior running back and defensive lineman/linebacker Dillon Sheehy, who knows a thing or two about being the new guy in the room.
Sheehy’s father held a job with Crown Holdings (formerly Crown Cork & Seal Company), a company that makes metal beverage, food and aerosol cans, required the family to move. A lot. The Sheehy family had to pinball around the country so much that Dillon and his two sisters were all born in different states. His elder sister was born here in Pennsylvania before the family relocated to Texas, where Dillon was born. They stayed there until Dillon was two, then moved to Iowa until he was in kindergarten, and then on to Minnesota, where they stayed until the summer before Dillon’s freshman year at North, when his dad’s career brought everyone back to Pennsylvania.
“Dillon made the transition a lot easier for me, as did all of the seniors, because they bought in right away,” Greiner said. “I didn’t take over until the first week of May and only had a short time to get to know the young men, a process that Dillon helped make a lot smoother. He’s one of those natural-born leaders, on and off the field, and the future of this program is brighter because of his efforts and those of his fellow seniors.”
Greiner shared an anecdote regarding the pasta dinners the team had on Thursday nights before game day. On one occasion this season, Greiner invited the seventh and eighth grade football players in the middle school program to eat with the high school kids. That night, Sheehy spent over an hour of his time, unprompted by Greiner or anyone else, talking to the youngsters about what would be expected of them once they got to the high school level.
Knowing full well how frightening and intimidating it can be as a young person heading into a new situation, Sheehy has always tried to take it upon himself to make everybody around him feel welcome. He’s been there, and this is his way of paying things forward.
“It’s never really easy to be the new kid,” Sheehy said. “You get self-conscious and ask yourself, ‘What if they don’t like me? What if they bully me because I have an accent?’ My dad and I actually moved here two or three months before my mom and sisters so I could meet the team and make some friends before school started.
“So, I was never truly the new kid, because I always knew people from football once I got here. Everyone always talks about football and brotherhood, but for me, these were literally the first kids here who said hi to me, gave me a high-five and talked to me. That’s stuck with me since freshman year.”
The standings may show that the Indians only won two games this season, one more than the previous three, indicating that things are still glacially slogging along over in Newtown. But if you dig a little deeper, you get a sense that things were much different this past season under an energized new coaching staff and a no-nonsense group of seniors led by Sheehy that were going to work their tails off to change the perception of the program from the inside out.
Sheehy noticed a stark difference between Greiner and the previous regime almost immediately.
“Myself and the other seniors, we felt that we weren’t making strides in bettering the program for the future,” Sheehy said. “It was more about just barely staying afloat for the week ahead. When Coach Greiner got here, the senior class was ready to put in the work to build toward a better future. He always gave us something to work toward, to keep guys from petering out of the program. We were hungrier. We stayed in games and put up good numbers against Neshaminy and Truman, two of the best teams in the league. When you have two straight 1-9 seasons, any improvement is a bright spot, and all the credit goes to Coach Greiner in pushing us to do things we didn’t think were possible before.”
Even after the team lost, Greiner and his staff would focus on the good things the team did in addition to where it could improve, which prevented the Indians from splintering.
“There was always a positive spin on whatever was going on,” Sheehy said. “It became a matter of motivating us to always have a better day. Our mindset was, this is our last year as seniors, so let’s make it a good one. There was only so much time left to enjoy together, and we maintained that through the season. It made us appreciate the little things more.”
Sheehy was a jack-of-all-trades player for Greiner. On offense, the 5-foot-6 Sheehy served as the team’s bruising, powerful fullback, rushing for more than 800 yards and five touchdowns (214 of those yards and three of the scores came on just 14 carries in a 43-8 win over Bensalem on Oct. 18); on defense, he was a hybrid linebacker-defensive lineman, leading the Indians in tackles from start to finish as a senior.
Additionally, Sheehy was part of kickoff packages on special teams while serving as the team’s long snapper on punts and kicks.
“One word you can use to sum up Dillon is versatility,” Greiner said. “I had three-way players at Bristol, but it’s not an easy thing to do in Suburban One. Dillon bought into the philosophy to be wherever he was needed on the field.”
With all of this in mind, one might come to the conclusion that football is Sheehy’s first and only athletic passion, but hold on just one moment. Sheehy is also a prominent member of the Council Rock North wrestling program, where he was a state qualifier at 152 pounds as a junior.
His wrestling prowess caught the eyes of many collegiate coaches, including the staff at the United States Military Academy, who sent Sheehy a handwritten letter congratulating him on his season that saw him get all the way to Hershey. Although he lost both matches he competed in, Sheehy was blown away by the personal touch of the gesture.
Both of his grandfathers served in the army, so once attending school and wrestling at West Point became a possibility, Sheehy was all in, verbally committing while driving from Pennsylvania to Illinois to visit his grandparents this past April.
“I always wanted to be in the service, and I also knew I needed a good college education,” Sheehy said. “This way, I can complete a service to my country, get a great education and continue to wrestle - it’s everything I’ve ever wanted in one package. The whole thing has been pretty surreal.”
And no matter how good of a wrestler Sheehy is, a school like West Point isn’t recruiting many kids with only so-so grades. Despite the fact that he committed during his junior academic year, Sheehy isn’t taking it easy on himself academically: he’s currently taking three AP classes, explaining that his parents always placed academic pressure on he and his siblings in hopes they would challenge themselves to the maximum effect.
Sheehy isn’t sure where he will place his academic focus at West Point, but did say he loves the idea of entering the engineering field, the same as his father.
“He always told me that it’s a good field to fall back on if nothing else works,” Sheehy said. “You can join almost any field with an engineering degree, and I’ve always liked the idea of being able to do almost anything with the degree that you do have.
“I’m required to be in the military, and I’ll do that as long as I’m comfortable. Then I’ll come back and find a job. I’ve always thought the idea of being a teacher was cool too, so maybe I’ll get an educational degree. I’m just going with the flow and seeing what happens.”
When he’s not playing football, wrestling or studying, Sheehy relishes be in a position to mentor the young. He does so whenever the opportunity arises, be it with the younger Council Rock North football programs or at Newtown Elementary School, where he mentors two students who were assigned to him. Sheehy helps them with homework and gives the advice, often while tossing the football around, just another example of Sheehy being there for others who are still finding their footing, much like he was four years ago after moving to Pennsylvania from Minnesota.
As far as this coming wrestling season, Sheehy is tempering his own expectations, especially now that he’s already committed to West Point. As a sophomore and junior, he put so much pressure on himself to enter the season, hoping to go undefeated and win a state championship; now, he’s still just as intense as he was, only with more perspective and less obsession.
“Going undefeated would be cool, and a state championship would be amazing,” he said. “But now that I know where I’m going, it’s nice to have that load off my shoulders and focusing on just having fun and wrestling the best I can every time I step on the mat.”
Obviously, these last three-plus years have impacted and changed Sheehy immeasurably. Of all the places his family could have moved and of all the new schools he could have found himself in once again, he hit the lottery by finding his niche at Council Rock North. There is so much to look forward to with the unique opportunity he has on the horizon. Yhat said, he’ll never forget his experience at North, which helped mold him into the respectful, mature young man he has become.
“I think the best part for me has been expanding my horizons and exploring things I hadn’t before,” he said. “Making friends, inspiring the little kids to play football or wrestle, or just the ability to help people in general. I loved being able to entertain the people that came out to watch the same football team lose every single year.
“We didn’t have good records, but we were still fun to watch, even in games we lost. So many people told me how much they enjoyed watching the team play, and I always had fun playing the game as a result. I think that’s something that we were able to transfer on to our community. Entertaining those people is probably the most rewarding thing for me, and it makes me not want football to be over with for good.”
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