They've Got Game
These area high school athletes represent the best and brightest of the Class of 2010
by Marc Narducci

Kristen Fuery
Upper Dublin High School
One of the top players in the area, Fuery scored her 1,000th career point in late January. A 6-footer, who can score from the perimeter or inside, Fuery has earned a basketball scholarship to Holy Cross. She is also a member of her school’s National Honor Society.

Q: Who is your athletic role model and why?
A: I always looked up to both my parents. My dad was an [assistant] track coach in two Olympics, and my mom played two sports at Ursinus and now coaches tennis, lacrosse and field hockey at Germantown Academy.

Q: What is your favorite athletic memory?
A: My favorite would have to be beating Michael Jordan in the shooting game ‘Around the World.’ In 2007, I was invited to the Michael Jordan Flight School, a camp held in Santa Barbara. At the end of every day, Mike would give a lecture or a shooting demonstration and then ask for volunteers. One day he picked me to play ‘Around the World’ [where players advance until missing two in a row from the same spot]. He didn’t make it all the way around, and then I got to shoot and was so nervous, but I ended up going around the horn and completing the circuit. The gym got pretty loud, and people were saying my name, and he addressed
the group and said, ‘Give it up for Kristen, who did some great shooting.’ I was trying to be humble, but I was beaming. I’m one of the few who can say I beat Michael Jordan in a shooting contest.

Q: What do you enjoy most about competing for your high school team?
A: I like the competition aspect of it. I am one of those people who just wants to win. The fact I can go out on the court and have four people with that same mentality is great.

Emily Leer
Abington High School
A 6-foot-2 forward, Leer became a 1,000-point career scorer as a senior. She has accepted a basketball scholarship to Villanova. A member of the National Honor Society, Leer holds a 4.1 GPA.

Q: What made you choose Villanova?
A: It came down where I was comfortable and how I felt I fit in with their program. All the schools I was looking at were good academic schools. I knew I would get a top notch education, but Villanova is close by, I had a good relationship with the coaches and players, and I felt at home.

Q: When and why did you start playing basketball?
A: Basketball is something that runs in the family. Both my parents played for East Stroudsburg and both had a love for the game. My older sister Elizabeth plays for American University.

Q: What is your favorite athletic memory?
A: When my AAU club team (Fencor) was third in the nation at the 2008 nationals in Ohio. We played together for seven years, and it was nice to share with my closest friends.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: I’ll probably be done playing basketball. I hope to play overseas, but don’t know how long. Maybe I will be starting to settle down with a family and job. Coaching has always been one of my goals, and I really enjoy helping others in the game.

Q: What do you enjoy most about competing for your high school team?
A: It’s fun to work up to a goal toward the end of the season. When you first step on the court it’s all about winning and getting to playoffs and districts and hopefully states. The whole season is focused around a goal and you play the best in the area.

Ali Gillen
Central Bucks East High School
This winter Gillen qualified for the state championships in the triple jump and
the 4x200 and 4x400 relays. Last spring, she was a member of Central Bucks
East’s state championship 4x100 relay team and was second in the 300-meter
hurdles. Known as one of the best triple jumpers in the state, she will continue
her track career and education at the University of Virginia. Gillen, who is a
member of the National Honor Society, plans to major in biology.

Q: What made your choose Virginia?
A: It was the combination of academics and athletics they had to offer. I thought it was the best place I could really succeed and have the tools to discover my potential as a student and an athlete.

Q: Do you have any pre-game rituals?
A:We like to have pasta parties the night before a meet.

Q: Who is your athletic role model and why?
A: My coach [Matt Catinella]. He ran through high school and college and is really dedicated to the sport, but also knows the importance of school and he is in graduate school now. He is really passionate about everything he does.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: I want to succeed and have a good influence on everyone I meet and try to leave the world a better place than how I found it.

Q: What do you enjoy most about competing for your high school team?
A: I would have to say meeting a lot of different people from my high school and other schools as well. The more people you talk to the more you really understand the whole experience and sort of appreciate the whole track community more. I like meeting new people and making new friends.

C.J. Aiken
Plymouth Whitemarsh High School
Among the top basketball players in the state, 6-foot-9 Aiken scored his
1,000th career point earlier this season, but is known just as much for his rebounding and shot blocking skills. A versatile performer who can score inside or out on the perimeter, Aiken has earned a basketball scholarship to St. Joseph’s University.

Q: You play for one of the top coaches in the area, Jim Donofrio. What has
that been like?
A: It’s been great. Coach has taught me a lot and told me what I need to do to play at the next level. He’s been like a father to me and probably the best coach I have ever had.

Q: You block so many shots, do you ever hurt your hand doing it?
A: (Laughs) Not really. I like rebounding and blocking shots.

Q: You are rare in that you enjoy playing defense. You have to admit most
people aren’t like that.
A: I’m the opposite of a lot of people because I love playing defense. That is what it’s all about. Coach D actually tells me I should be more offensive minded.

Q: What’s it like to dunk in a game?
A: It’s always good, and it’s better when it’s a close game and you dunk and the whole crowd goes crazy.

Q: What has been your best sports memory?
A: Probably the 1,000 points, getting that and being up there with the other great players here such as John Salmons and Chuck Moore.

Q: What is the best part about playing for Plymouth Whitemarsh?
A: I have great teammates. They are really funny. We’re like brothers, and we stick together and have such a good bond.

Jack Else
North Penn High School
Swimming and Water Polo
A competitive swimmer since the age of 6, Else recently set a pool record by
winning the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:49.42 in a 103-75 win over
Souderton. He also was part of the 200 and 400 free relays that established
new pool records. Else was named Pennsylvania’s water polo player of the
year, and his team finished second in the state. He will attend Bucknell and
compete in water polo.

Q: How long have you been swimming and competing in water polo?
A: I’ve been swimming competitively since I was 6. My dad was a swimmer and my mom was a diver, so I kind of had the genes. I’ve been playing water polo since the seventh grade.

Q: What were your thoughts on being named the Water Polo Player of the
A: I was happy and honored, but would have liked to have won the state championship.

Q: What do you like the most about water polo?
A: I like the physicality compared to swimming. I like how rough it is, and it’s a lot of fun.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: Having a job, maybe a house. Being a positive part of society and maybe coming back to help here in water polo and swimming.

Q: Why did you bleach your hair?
A: The whole team did it as a bonding, team spirit thing. I’ll shave it off before the meet.

Gregg Gruschow
Conestoga High School
A football starter at defensive tackle, Gruschow is more known for his accomplishments
in wrestling, where he earned his 100th career win at 215 pounds in late January. He is an honor roll student and will attend Penn State-Altoona with plans to major in business.

Q: You have been wrestling the same weight (215) all four years. Isn’t that pretty
A: I am fairly light and weigh around 200, so I have always liked wrestling at 215. It’s awesome because I don’t have to tack on sweatshirts and run on the treadmill (to lose weight).
Q: What did it mean to win your 100th career match?
A: It was really awesome. It was on my mind since freshman year to get 100. And only 11 other people in school history did that, so it was a big goal of mine and felt really good to accomplish it.

Q: What is your best athletic memory?
A: Making it to states last year was really cool. I expected to do that senior year and didn’t think I would do it junior year. Now it’s a goal to place at states. Going to Hershey Park and wrestling at states is quite an experience.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: I hope I own a business. I want to own a restaurant and be the financial person behind everything. I love food and business.

Q: What do you enjoy most about competing for your high school team?
A: I like when you practice with your team constantly and put all this effort into it, and then go on the mat it’s you and the other guy. Whoever works harder wins the match. It’s why you have to work so hard in practice. I just like the competition.

Marc Narducci is a freelance writer based in South Jersey.
Andrew Wilkinson is a photographer based in Titusville, NJ. (Wilkinsonmedia)