By John Knebels
Special to The CS&T
With three years on his high school resume and a fourth about to begin, Lansdale Catholic senior Pat O’Hara has a simple piece of advice for anyone looking to make the most of his or her scholastic experience.
And if you happen to be a young man or woman gifted in athletics, try to play as many sports as your body – and calendar – will allow.
“There are so many benefits,” said O’Hara, 17, a member of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Hatfield and a graduate of Gwynedd-Mercy Academy Elementary. “You stay in shape year round. You get to meet different groups of people who share your interests. In the end, you develop more friendships and they’re spread throughout the whole school.”
A physical specimen at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, O’Hara should know what he’s talking about. A football two-way end in the fall, a basketball power forward in the winter and a lacrosse defenseman in the spring, O’Hara has literally not taken a season off since registering as a freshman at the same school from where his father Pat graduated in 1970 and where his sister Casey will be a freshman this fall.
Citing the parenting of his father and mother Tricia, a 1974 graduate of Bishop McDevitt, O’Hara said they are the major reason why he has been able to participate successfully in athletics year-round while maintaining a strong academic portfolio.
“They remind me that being a student-athlete requires a commitment to keep my grades up in every subject,” said O’Hara. “If I don’t do that, I can’t play sports.”
In the fall of the elder O’Hara’s junior season, Lansdale Catholic introduced its new football coach, Jim Algeo. An amazing 41 years later, Algeo remains in charge of the football program.
“Coach Algeo has told me some things about when my dad played for him,” said O’Hara. “Some of the things are funny, and other times he’ll tell me things that he did that I should be doing. But it’s all about motivation and getting the most out of your hard work. That’s one of the things that makes Coach Algeo so good at what he does.”
Algeo smiled when asked to assess what it’s like to coach the son of a former player.
“Heck, I remember when Patrick’s grandfather, Dennis, would come to the games to watch his son play,” said Algeo. “Now both of them come to watch Patrick play. It’s a really neat thing.”
Algeo is impressed with O’Hara’s football pedigree. A starter at end on both offense and defense, O’Hara is one of many Crusader players who have opined that an improvement over last year’s fourth-place finish in the Catholic League’s AAA spanision is a strong possibility.
Although he constantly reminds his players that every team – whether winless or undefeated from the year before – is preparing just as hard as the Crusaders, Algeo understands their optimism.
“You have to take care of business and go from there,” said Algeo. “But I’ve watched the way these kids have worked. I sense their excitement.”
As for O’Hara, Algeo said it is not uncommon to find the two-way starter hitting the school’s weight room as soon as it opens. Such dedication, he said, provides an explanation for why O’Hara has been able to start at the varsity level for three of LC’s varsity sports as an underclassman.
“Pat is someone that any Catholic school would be proud of,” said Algeo. “He works hard inside and outside the classroom, too. He’s a terrific young man.”
For a three-sport high school athlete, there is no greater plaudit than that.
John Knebels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.