Most teams have songs they like to warm up to.
The Little Flower High School basketball team has a very unconventional one. The national anthem. And it’s not piped in through the loudspeakers or from a nearby boombox, but it’s being sung by one of their teammates.
Hey, Maura Budd isn’t just warming up for the game, she’s warming up to honor America.
“I sing the national anthem before every game, so when I’m warming up, I’ll usually start singing it just to get ready,” said Budd, a senior guard. “Oh my gosh do I get nervous. I’m not sure what I usually get more nervous about, the game or singing. I get nervous for both, but I love doing both.”
Budd is a very talented basketball player, and her play has helped the Sentinels improve this year. Little Flower is 4-6 on the year in the Catholic League Blue Division, which is good enough for the 11th seed in the playoffs.
Little Flower played Bonner-Prendergast in a first-round game before the Times went to press.
Budd has brought a lot to the basketball court, but it’s just one of many things she does at the school.
Let’s start with sports.
Budd is a five-sport athlete, and a very good one at that.
In the fall, she runs cross country and plays golf for the Sentinels, who won the Catholic League championship this year.
In the winter, other than shoot hoops, she’s a thrower on the indoor track team, and a very good one at that. She has the school record in the shot put, and also throws the javelin and the discus.
She takes it easy in the spring, playing only one sport. She throws for the outdoor track team, and last year established a school record for the shot put.
Oh, and when she’s not playing sports for the school, she also competes as an Olympic weightlifter, where she has impressive numbers in the squat, snatch and clean and jerk.
“I don’t get a chance to lift too much during basketball season because I’m playing two sports, but once it’s over, I’ll get back to it, I hope,” said Budd, who lives in Torresdale. “I started doing CrossFit when I was 7 because both my dad, especially my dad, but mom, too, are very active. I started doing it, too, and I loved it.
“I really like doing it. My gym is over two hours away (in Berks County), so I don’t get there a lot, but when I go I love it. I love all the sports.”
While track might be her best sport, and cross country was a sport she joined just because her team needed numbers to fill out the roster, this year in basketball might be her favorite because the team has gone from winless a season ago to racking up four wins this season.
“We’re doing a lot better and we’re having so much fun,” Budd said. “We’re playing a lot better, this year is so much better than last year. Last year was good, too, but this year is better.”
Playing five sports and being the official singer of the basketball team makes up for a full schedule, but in reality it doesn’t scratch the surface of the things Budd does at Little Flower.
She’s also the president of her senior class, and that is a full-time job in itself. She represents the schools in many different areas through that position, but she credits a strong cabinet for a lot of the success.
“It’s me and three other amazing girls who work together and they’re just great,” Budd said. “It’s like the basketball team, we’re very close. We’re best friends. That makes it so much more fun. We do what we can for the school. We love representing Little Flower. We all love the school so much.”
When it comes to saying she loves her school, Budd doesn’t have to act. But if she needed to, she could because for the past four years, she’s been one of the best, earning the lead in the school play all four years.
And she’s got range.
During her freshman year, she played Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Sophomore year, it was Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Junior year she was Morticia in The Addams Family. And this year, she was Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
We told you she had range.
“I loved all of them, I think The Little Mermaid was my favorite because I was a freshman and I didn’t expect it at all, I was so surprised,” Budd said. “I did some (acting) before on a very small level, nothing like being in a play like we have. It was great. This year was the hardest, I think, because I wasn’t playing a girl, I was Willy Wonka. But all of them were great. I loved it.”
Budd earned the lead in the school play thanks to her great singing voice. She also did it despite having just 20 percent hearing in her right ear.
“What can’t I do? Well I can’t hear too well,” she said with a laugh. “But it doesn’t hold me back at all. I can do everything.”
School play, sports and class president means long hours. She arrives at school some days as early as 6:30 a.m., and it’s rare she leaves before 6 p.m. When practicing for the play, she sometimes stays until 9 p.m.
She’s also a member of the diversity team, mock trial and the liturgical friends group.
Mix in an aggressive course load that includes many honors classes that has her ranked 27th in her senior class, Budd loves to stay active.
But she wouldn’t have it any other way and she credits her teachers and coaches for being so accommodating.
“I’ll say this, communication is very key,” she said with a laugh. “I just make sure to let everyone know if there’s a conflict and I do my best. They’re all very understanding. I’m always doing something, and the school is great because everyone wants to see you do great in other areas.
“The school is so special that way. Everyone knows everyone and seriously, we’re all best friends.”
Little Flower holds a huge part of Budd’s heart, but it would be inaccurate to say it’s the biggest thing in her life. That would be her younger brother, Brendan, who has autism.
For the bulk of her life, Brendan was his big sister’s biggest fan, and now that’s going both ways with him starting to play sports.
“His whole life, that poor kid would come to all of my games, and now he’s starting to play, he’s playing hockey now and he loves it and I love watching him,” said Budd, who volunteers at Torresdale Boys Club refereeing games and helping out in various other areas. “I’m very spiritual, religion is a big part of my life, and I think Brendan is my gift from God. He’s so important to me. I love him so much and love being around him.”
Brendan has had such an impact on her life that he helped her choose a future job.
Budd plans on majoring in sociology and Spanish and after she graduates she hopes to study law or occupational therapy to will help those with disabilities.
She’s unsure where she’ll end up for college, she’s waiting to hear back from a few schools, but no matter where she goes, she knows she’ll always stay close to her family. Especially Brendan.
“I’ve applied to schools that are really close and some that are pretty far away,” Budd said. “I don’t know if I want to go far, but I have a feeling no matter where I go, Brendan won’t be too far away. There will be a lot of visits from him.”
She won’t have to miss her family because they’ll always be there. But she will miss Little Flower.
Being in so many groups means having a lot of friends. And she’ll miss each and every one of them when she graduates.
“Little Flower is great, we are all friends, everyone, I am friends with every girl in the school,” she said. “Great teachers, great coaches, great people all over the school. Going to Little Flower has been the best. I love everything about it.”
Now that’s something to sing about.