Favorite athlete: Jalen Hurts
Favorite teams: Eagles, Sixers, Phillies & Flyers
Favorite memory competing in sports: Dropping 20 points in the second half against William Tennent last year during our Senior Night to lead our team to a win after being down 18 at the half.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Seasons in the past where we have had very few wins.
Music on playlist: All types of music, mostly country music.
Future plans: I am going to attend a four-year college to study accounting while possibly pursuing playing golf at the D3 level. If I decide not to participate in golf in college, I will attend Villanova, Bucknell or Drexel.
Words to live by: “Go slow to go fast.” My dad taught me this at a young age, and I think of it before every game to eliminate nerves, allowing me to play to the best of my ability.
One goal before turning 30: To start my career and have a stable job while staying in close contact with my entire family.
One thing people don’t know about me: I love to cook. I can cook a variety of things in many different ways. I am always the one to cook at tailgates and get-togethers.
By GORDON GLANTZ
Unless you are one of infamous flunkies known as “Sweathogs” from “Welcome Back, Kotter,” you are not getting more than one chance to be a high school senior.
So, when Quakertown’s Ty Wilkin tore a ligament in his ankle in the fourth game of the season just over five weeks ago, it seemed like the team’s captain and lone senior was not going to have the senior season he had dreamed about.
“It was in a game against PW,” he recalled. “I went up for layup and came down on it. I didn’t land on anything. My ankle just hit the floor. It was like half a softball, the whole side of my ankle. The next day, I was in a boot.”
However, with a lot of hard work and support from team trainer Bill Clewell, Wilkin appears to be on course to join his younger brother, sophomore point guard Sam Wilkin, and the rest of the team in time to take the floor on Senior Night.
“I just got out of the boot,” he said. “I’ve been doing crazy rehab, like 12-16 hours a week, with the trainer at practice. That’s kind of where I’m at right now.
“Senior Night is Feb. 3, and we do have a shot at making the playoffs. I hope to be back for the playoffs, and for Senior Night. It’s a 6-8-week injury.”
But, that wasn’t etched in stone anywhere.
“I went to a pretty good orthopedic doctor, and my trainer said he would do anything he could do, and I trust him,” said Wilkin. “He said he could try to get me out there for Senior Night, most importantly, so I kind of just went with his gut.”
The typical physical therapy has been augmented by cardio and defensive slides, etc.
“I’m just trying to stay in basketball shape for my return,” he said. “It feels great. I can put pressure on it. I’ve been walking on it just fine. Now, I just need strengthen to it and get back out there.”
And if he does make it back onto the floor for Senior Night, it will bring back memories of last year’s Senior Night, when he dropped 20 points in the second half to lead a comeback win over William Tennent, which led by 18 at halftime.
“Yeah, last Senior Night,” he recalled. “That was crazy.”
While not on the floor, Wilkin is on the bench, serving as an unofficial assistant coach on the staff of head coach Anthony DaCosta.
Wilkin was a key returning starter. With his points per game average in the low double digits, he was a Liberty Division Honorable Mention selection as a junior. As team captain, he was being looked upon to lead the Panthers into the District playoffs this year.
“I respect him so much,” said DaCosta, who in his third year as coach at Quakertown and third with Wilkin. “Now, his perspective, after sitting with us as coaches, has changed. As our only senior, he has been inspirational in keeping guys encouraged and trying to not get discouraged. He has been every bit of the captain we expected him to be.”
Knowing the type of mature young man that Wilkin has grown into, it has not been a surprise to DaCosta.
“He is just such a great person, and I’m not just blowing smoke,” said the coach, whose previous experience was at Faith Christian and Christopher Dock. “He just wants the best out of everybody. He has great parents. They have done a tremendous job.
“The biggest thing is that you never know how somebody is going to respond until they have adversity. That wasn’t something he always did well, but that’s clearly the biggest area where he has grown, the ability to handle things when they don’t go well. Not playing has also given him a different perspective on how to maintain composure, maintain your poise.”
While some in his situation would have found it difficult, Wilkin embraced the opportunity.
“Definitely,” said Wilkin, who thanked his girlfriend, Katelyn Derstine, for her support during the adversity. “I sit on the sidelines. I’m at every practice. I’m captain of the team and the only senior. I’m at everything,
“I just coach up the guys in the locker room, and stuff like that. That’s what he wants me to do, too. He usually wants me to watch the big men, stuff like that.”
With his brother part of a younger nucleus, it has been an interesting – though unexpected – experience.
“That just makes it more fun, too,” said Wilkin. “Watching my brother play is awesome. I try to cheer him on, and the rest of the guys, too. I wish I could be out there with them, but I’m just trying to make the best of the situation.”
Wilkin is actually an equally effective golfer, having played since around the age of 9 and seriously since the age of 13-14.
He is close with his whole family – not only Sam, but parents Melissa and Mark, and younger sister, Sadie – and doesn’t want to travel to far away to major in accounting in college.
“We are pretty close,” he said. “That’s why I’m limiting my college search to 2-2 ½ hours in. I want to come back for my brother’s game. My younger sister, who is 11. She plays basketball, soccer and lacrosse. It’s her young childhood, and I don’t want to miss that.”
It’s just a question of whether or not he wants to golf at the next level.
For example, if he goes to Villanova or Bucknell or Drexel, he won’t play.
He will at, say, Widener or Bloomsburg.
“I’m not that good,” he said. “I can go and play golf at D3 or D2, but not at D1. Those guys are just crazy good.”
While basketball is such a team sport and golf is more individual, Wilkin has taken the best from both worlds.
“I like both sports so much,” he said. “Golf brings the individual aspect to it. Just like basketball. I have an amazing group of teammates and just a great coach (PGA Teaching Professional Steve Oltman). I was just having fun, qualifying for regionals and making the cut for districts. It was a blast.”
A fan of country music, Wilkin is probably not familiar with the 70s rocker “Slow Ride” by Foghat, but his father has taught him to “go slow to go fast.”
An excellent student with a 4.18 GPA, Wilkin has made the motto as much about life outside the realm of sports as within it.
The method has been a key to success for Wilkin when he wants to eliminate nervousness before a game, but particularly when frustrated in the early phases of his rehab.
“Definitely, yeah,” he said. “The first couple of weeks were rough. All I could really do was ice, rest and elevate.
“I use that motto in everything I do.”
While you would think there are no more tricks up Wilkin’s sleeve, he has one more.
“I can cook anything, really,” he said. “I love it. My dad has season tickets to the Eagles games. And I always cook for his friends, my friends and anyone who is down there. I love to cook at home, and help mom out, or help dad out on the grill. It just kind of fun. I wanted to be a chef when I was younger, and I kept it as a hobby.”
Wilkin said that while he always enjoyed being in the kitchen, and the interest was piqued by a class at Quakertown in his freshman year.
If that were all he did, it would be enough, but enough is never enough for Wilkin.
In addition to AAU basketball and golf, he is heavily involved in the school community as well.
“I’m involved in a lot of things,” he said.
That is a bit of an understatement.
Consider that Wilkin is:
-President of the National Honor Society
-Treasurer of Key Club
-A member of Best Buddies
-Executive officer and class officer
This all begs the question of how he budgets his time.
“That’s a good question,” he said. “I really don’t how to explain it, like on paper. I just lay out everything that I have to do that week. I just try to plan ahead.”