Basketball season was tough. Baseball season was redemption.
Nick Conway expected to have a great basketball season.
He ended up not having one at all, but he did recover to have a great baseball season.
Conway, who recently graduated from Father Judge High School, started the school year by making his return to the Crusaders’ football team. He had sat out his junior year to prepare for his other sports, but missed it so he returned to the gridiron.
He didn’t make it the entire season.
“I tore my labrum,” said the Fox Chase resident, who played linebacker and wide receiver during the fall. “It happened at St. Joe’s Prep. A few games before, it popped out, but it went right back in. This time, it was on a tackle, I rolled off and it didn’t go back. It hurt, but I didn’t know how bad it was.”
It was pretty bad.
The torn labrum required season-ending surgery. It also wiped out his entire basketball season, which was especially disappointing.
Football was a fun activity for Conway, but his main sport was basketball. Not only was he upset, but he was slated to be a key member of the Crusaders’ squad, which had high hopes heading into the season.
“It was really tough,” Conway said. “I played a lot last year and I figured this was going to be a big year, not for me really, but for the team. We had a good team, but we didn’t have a lot of depth, so losing me hurt because we needed everyone.
“It was hard. I couldn’t even tell (Coach Sean Tait). I had my mom call and tell him because I was hurt, but I was upset.”
Conway didn’t play, but he stuck around and did whatever he could to help the Crusaders during the winter season.
But his absence on the court hurt.
Judge won just one game during Catholic League play, and what made it worse was that the Crusaders were competitive in almost every game. They didn’t win, but they proved to be a good team. They were just missing a player or two.
“They played great,” Conway said. “I was at every game, I would go to practice. I was still with them, I just couldn’t help them. They took Neumann-Goretti to overtime, they almost beat Prep. They played really tough.”
Basketball season was tough.
Baseball season was redemption.
Shortly before the season started, Conway was cleared to throw. The injury was to his non-throwing hand, so he wasn’t cleared to bat right away, but he was able to take the mound by the beginning of the season.
Judge had a great №1 pitcher in Chuck Kelley, who went on to win the Catholic League Most Valuable Player award, but it needed a №2 to pitch the other league game it played each week.
That’s where Conway came in, and he provided the Crusaders with exactly what they needed.
Behind the one-two punch of Kelley and Conway, Judge finished 8–4 in the Catholic League and went on to knock off the defending Catholic League champion, Neumann-Goretti, in the first round.
“I thought we had a great year and I was happy I could help because Chuck was great, but he couldn’t pitch every game,” Conway said. “I had some great games, for me. The biggest one was having a big hit that helped us beat Neumann in the playoffs. That was good because I only had two or three at-bats during the Catholic League because I wasn’t cleared. I wasn’t a hitter as much as a pitcher.”
For Conway, that was the perfect way to end a great athletic career in high school.
“I would say basketball and baseball are my main sports and football was my third, but I’m really glad I played football this year because I missed playing with the guys,” Conway said. “I wish I didn’t get hurt, but I wanted to play because I didn’t play last year and I really missed it. It hurt to miss basketball season, but I had no idea that would happen.”
While Conway didn’t have a chance to play high school basketball this year, he is on track to play next year at Holy Family.
“I talked to Coach (R.C.) Kehoe, and he said I would have an opportunity to walk on,” said Conway, who will go in undecided on a major. “A big reason I’m going there is because of Mike Power. He’s my boy, we talk every day. He played there this year, he graduated last year (from Judge), and he loves it there. I think I’ll love it there, too.”
Just like he loved high school.
Leaving the comfort of the Holmesburg school will be tough because he’s carved out such a great situation for himself, but he’s also excited about the future.
“I will definitely miss it, but I’m ready for what’s next,” Conway said. “I loved everything about Judge, especially my friends and everything. But I’m ready for the next step.”