Not the way we drew it up

This article is the 200th article published by Prasham Jobanputra during his two years as a staff writer and editor for The Knight Crier. In two years Prasham went from being a sports fan to a diligent sports writer who captured the athletic scene at NPHS in as timely and thorough a manner as any writer before him. He will take his talents to Drexel University in the fall.

The+back+page+of+the+Knight+Crier+2020+print+edition+features+one+of+many+signs+posted+around+the+NPHS+campus+indicating+the+closure+of+all+playing+fields+due+to+the+Covid-19+pandemic.+

The back page of the Knight Crier 2020 print edition features one of many signs posted around the NPHS campus indicating the closure of all playing fields due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

TOWAMENCIN- Sports has so much more meaning than just wins and losses.  For high school athletes, their lives revolve around their sport and the team they are a part of.  So, when the spring sports season was cancelled because of the coronavirus, a lot was taken away from student athletes.

I empathize with our athletes, especially the senior athletes, during these unprecedented times. For many student-athletes the impact on their emotions and thoughts has been difficult to navigate. I am sure many are thinking ‘what might have been.’  North Penn athletes are tough, competitive and resilient. Through sports, they have learned to face adversity throughout their careers. This pandemic has caused all of us to deal with difficult situations and many challenges. I am confident that our athletes have the skill set to overcome these challenges, learn from these challenges and as a result will be stronger when facing adversity in the future,” North Penn athletic director, Bill Bartle, said.

The Knights softball program was gearing up for a magical season this year.  They were one of the favorites to win the state title and were being led by a senior class, who if they had won the conference title this year would have been a class to win the conference their entire careers.  One of those seniors was co-captain Amanda Greaney, a catcher and Lehigh University softball commit.

Prasham Jobanputra
Greaney, a catcher, owns numerous North Penn softball records, such as most career home runs, career walks and tied the record for home runs in a season. She was 8 RBIs away from the career record for RBIs.

“It has meant the world to me and I know that’s so cliche, but this program has been everything.  They’re my family, my sisters, my teammates, someone I can lean on.  I never felt like I couldn’t tell my team anything or even the coaches.  I was a complete open book and I told everyone everything and that’s all I could ever ask for from a team, to be so welcoming of me when I was freshman and then I tried to continue that.  That’s what I always strived to do, to make sure no one feels unwelcomed in that program cause that program really is a family and something special,” Greaney said on her time with the softball team.

After two straight state quarterfinals appearances, the Knights were looking to getting past the hump and hold up the state championship trophy, something they were ready for with their talent and chemistry.

“Everyone looks forward to their senior season, that’s the one where you want to win it all and this team could have won it all.  It sucks we didn’t get that opportunity to show ourselves.  We had so much to prove, my class, we had so much we wanted to prove…It was going to be a magical season and we had the talent.  This team had all the talent in every position on the field.  We also had that chemistry and that bonding.  All of us were so tight.  All of us were best friends and it’s like getting your family ripped away from you in a sense.  You usually see them six days a week, you can’t see your family every single day anymore and that’s heartbreak. That’s I how describe it, just constant heartbreak,” Greaney explained.

Family is key aspect to sports, something senior RJ Macnamara has felt a lot throughout his career at North Penn.

Prasham Jobanputra
The 6’3″ 225-pound senior, R.J. Macnamara, bolts down the lacrosse field for the Knights.

Macnamara is football player, and will play football at the University of Delaware, but also played lacrosse for the Knights.  For Macnamara, and many other athletes, being on their field provides an escape from real life.

“The lacrosse program has kind of been a second home away from home cause with everything that happened last year, I was always looking forward to practice cause I would always get to see my friends and always have fun no matter what was going on.  So it was like a little escape for me no matter what was going on in my life,” Macnamara said.

Macnamara’s dad, Ray Macnamara, passed away from his battle with cancer last May, right in the middle of the lacrosse season.

“Specifically lacrosse, everything with my dad happened at the very beginning of the lacrosse season last year and all the way through the season.  So just the fact that I knew I had their support, and all of them were always texting me, seeing how I’m doing and saying ‘If you ever need anything, I’m here,’ or ‘We can go out and do something if you want.’  They were always there for me no matter what was going on and it helped me a lot knowing they were always there for me no matter what,” Macnamara said.

Lacrosse Head Coach Rick Smith couldn’t be more proud of his team for treating each other like family and supporting each other throughout everything.

“As a coach I honestly feel like all of the players are my very own children.  With that being said, I also have a higher expectation for the way they act at home, inside the high school and on the lacrosse field.  I always tell my players that the game of life is so much harder than the game of lacrosse,” Smith explained.

Within one year, we actually had two senior players, RJ Macnamara and Matt Keith, lose their father’s to cancer.  During our offseason we dedicated ourselves to a family motto.  After every huddle, meeting, end of practice, etc., we came together as a team and said ‘family.’”

— Rick Smith - Head Boys Lacrosse Coach

“The game of lacrosse is a very small minimal part of their life and my philosophy is pretty simple- family, school and then lacrosse in that order.  Within one year, we actually had two senior players, RJ Macnamara and Matt Keith, lose their father’s to cancer.  During our offseason we dedicated ourselves to a family motto.  After every huddle, meeting, end of practice, etc., we came together as a team and said ‘family.’ Every player in our program understands the meaning of sticking together, working hard, and always supporting each other through adversity.  I was very proud to see how all of the players rallied around RJ and Matt during their difficult times. It showed me that the players understand my philosophy that family comes first,” Coach Smith explained.

If you attended fall or winter sporting events at North Penn, or even road games, you probably noticed one student in the student section cheering on the Knights at a majority of games.  William “Cole” Egner has expressed that his favorite high school memory was being able to watch his friends play sports, whether it was football or soccer or basketball.  Egner was all about school spirit as one of the louder students and leading the student section in what they called, the rollercoaster, a way to get hype at halftime.

“It was my last year and it was the last year a lot of my friends were going to be playing sports and I felt like it would be almost my duty to go watch them and go see them and go support them because I would expect the same thing from them.  It’s just something fun to do.  It’s a way to stay involved with your school, it’s just a way to support your friends,” Egner said.

Prasham Jobanputra
Cole Egner in the EBFBL championship game, where he shut the door in the seventh inning by getting the save as the Knights won their fifth straight fall baseball championship.

The spring season was going to be Egner’s time to shine, on a baseball diamond.  The 5’10” pitcher got a his first taste of varsity baseball last year when called up, and this year was his year to show what he had to everyone else.

“I’m not so upset that they won’t come see me, I’m upset that some people couldn’t see what I had, what I had to show.  I had a great summer, I had a pretty good fall, I was so hyped to show all the work I put in, in the spring season and try to take the team as far as I possibly could,” Egner said.

Egner will be headed to Penn State next year to study corporate law.  He will try and make the club baseball team there, but there’s no guarantee on if Egner will play competitive baseball again, which is unfortunate, since his life so far has revolved around baseball.

“It almost is my life.  I would watch baseball every single day when I was young or everyday in the spring, I would watch the Phillies.  I come home from school in elementary school, have a little bit of time and I’d have a baseball game that night.  Just the spring night feeling of an intramural game at the Green Lane baseball fields near Fischer’s Park, it’s just such a different feeling and all the memories I have.  All of my best memories are from baseball and I feel like that’s one of the real killers for me, that I’m not going to have the memories of this season because they’re going to be clouded by something negative, and I don’t like the thought of that,” Egner explained.

For athletes, when they are on their field or court, they become something bigger.  They are not just one person anymore, they become part of one unit, together, with one goal, a championship.  That feeling of togetherness is a feeling that may top all others, especially if it ends in achieving the ultimate goal.  That togetherness becomes family, and family is something that lasts forever, long after the cleats and jersey are hung up.  For many, wearing the navy and Columbia blue is a dream come true because of the all the memories that can be made in those colors and the privilege to represent their high school the right way.  Right now all these incredible things are missing in student athletes’ lives, and it’s an awful situation.

But if sports has taught athletes one thing, it’s to persevere.  Persevere through an injury, a tough loss, or a big deficit on the scoreboard, because that is what makes athletes better.  That lesson applies to life as well.  It may feel like you’re down ten runs in the bottom of the ninth right now, but keep fighting and persevering, because you will come out stronger and triumphant.