Youngest Hnatkowsky living up to legacy

Katch Hnatkowsky will be ready for soccer after spending the summer working as a life guard. CONTRIBUTED

Katch Hnatkowsky is spending her entire summer on the beach.

But she’s doing anything but relaxing.

Hnatkowsky is in her second year as a lifeguard in Sea Isle, New Jersey, and the job has plenty of perks.

The beach isn’t a bad office. And it’s always fun to get some sun. But the best part about this job is it keeps her in shape for sports.

“It’s really hard, you have to be in good shape because when you’re needed, you have to be ready,” said Hnatkowsky, a Bustleton resident who will be a senior on the Penn Charter High School girls soccer team in the fall and after that on the basketball team. “We’ve had some moments where we had to do something to help people. It’s a fun job, but you have to take it very seriously because it can be very important.

“We have to train every day. That definitely helps me stay in shape. I’m always ready for the fall because I work so hard in training. It’s great for that.”

This year, Hnatkowsky will get a little more work as a lifeguard because the Inter-Ac postponed its fall sports until late September, so she’ll continue to work on the beach. But when it’s time to get back on the field, she’ll be more than ready.

Hnatkowsky is a solid basketball player, but her true love is soccer. She’s a defender and last year she helped the Quakers win the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association championship. It was a great way to end a season that saw them fall just short of winning the Inter-Ac.

“It meant so much to our team, that was great winning that,” Hnatkowsky said. “We had a very good year, but we didn’t win the league, so it definitely felt good to win that.”

The good news is most of the Quakers are back. So when the season gets going, Penn Charter should again contend for the league and perhaps more.

“We had some really good players graduate, so we’ll have to have other players do well, but a lot of us are back,” Hnatkowsky said. “We haven’t had a chance to play together, I’m excited to see everyone, but we’ve all been in touch. (Penn Charter) didn’t play in a summer league this year, so we have to start practicing.”

Hnatkowsky knows she’ll be ready.

On top of working out with her lifeguard team, Hnatkowsky has stayed busy in Sea Isle working on her game at nearby fields. She also plays pickup basketball and when she has weekends free, she travels to Philadelphia to play club soccer.

“I get to play a lot, work keeps me pretty busy, but I stay active,” Hnatkowsky said. “I’m looking forward to getting back, but since everything is off for a while, I’ll just work. I hope we play soccer soon, and I hope we play it and still have basketball. I think we will at Penn Charter because almost everybody plays a few sports.”

Hnatkowsky is one of those players.

If she plays sports in college, she sees herself as more of a soccer player, but she was a key player on the Quakers’ basketball team last year. Just like in soccer, Penn Charter went on a postseason run that saw it advance to the PAISAA championship after just missing out on an Inter-Ac championship.

This year, she’ll be called on to be a leader of a young team.

“We had some great players graduate, two very good scorers, so I might be called on to score more, maybe,” said Hnatkowsky, who will likely start at shooting guard. “But we have some great sophomores who are really good. I think the team could be good. Basketball is fun, I love playing at Penn Charter, but soccer is my passion. I think I’m better at it and I love it more. But basketball is great, too.”

Hnatkowsky is a great natural athlete, which explains why she’s so successful. But she credits her older siblings, Michael, a talented quarterback, and Alexis, a standout basketball player, with helping her grow as an athlete.

And as great as the older siblings are, both say little sis is the best of the Hnatkowsky bunch.

“That means a lot to me, because they were both such great athletes,” Hnatkowsky said. “They both helped me. They would help me get better, stronger and tougher. They would beat up on me, never let me win, but they did it to help me. And they still help me. They help me all the time.”

Hnatkowsky won’t need much help to get into college, and while she doesn’t know where she’ll end up, she has a good idea what she’ll study.

“I want to study international business and minor in Chinese,” Hnatkowsky said. “I started taking Chinese when I got to Penn Charter in sixth grade, and I had to pick a language. Everybody takes Spanish, so I wanted to try something different.

“I was going to go to China (in March), but it got canceled because of coronavirus. I hope to go soon. Maybe this year.”

As long as it’s after her sports seasons.

“I am excited about sports because we haven’t been able to even see each other,” Hnatkowsky said of her Penn Charter teammates. “I think we’re all ready to start playing.”