He got it on the soccer field, but it has nothing to do with his game.
Sean Horvay is a centerback on the Archbishop Ryan High School soccer team, and when he was 4, he went to soccer practice in Torresdale sporting a University of Maryland shirt. That’s when his coach Ted Westervelt gave him a nickname that sticks to this day.
“There were two (Seans) on the team, and I was wearing a shirt with Terrapin on it, so he started calling me turtle,” Horvay said. “Now everyone calls me that. In school, on the team, all my friends. Not my mom, she doesn’t, but everyone else just calls me turtle.
“Some people think it means I’m slow or something, but I’m not. I’m pretty fast. I didn’t like the nickname at first, but now I like it. It’s who I am.”
He’s also a heck of a soccer player.
Horvay is the leader of the Raiders defense that should be one of the most talented in the Catholic League this year. And he couldn’t be prouder of it.
Last year, Horvay and his young teammates learned to play together, and as the season went on, they got much more comfortable. This year, he’s hoping his squad takes the next step and becomes the best unit in the Catholic League.
“It’s different because I’m one of the only older guys on the defense, everyone else is so young,” Horvay said. “They’re so good, though. Club players. And now we know how to play together. Everyone back there, the defense and the goalie. We all work really well together, and that should make us stronger.”
As the centerback, Horvay is responsible to make sure the defense works with the midfielders in the transition game, but as a senior captain, it’s his job to make sure everyone knows what’s going on at all times. It’s a job that comes naturally to him.
“When I got to Ryan, I wasn’t really outgoing or loud, but I knew what was expected of me, if you’re going to be a leader, you have to do it,” Horvay said. “I’m one of the more outgoing guys on the team. It’s just a matter of using your voice. I’m not afraid to do it. I’ll tell people what to do, they know why I’m doing it.
“It’s easy on defense because all of the guys are younger, and they trust me. They listen. I know what we have to do. But they’re learning so quickly. They’re really good players. It makes it a lot easier and makes us better as a team.”
Horvay has been watching the improvement all summer and now into the fall.
Over the summer, many of the guys on the team played in a summer league at Lighthouse. It was a men’s league, so the games were anything but easy, but Horvay saw a lot of improvement thanks to playing in it. It’s gotten even better in the fall since many of the same players are competing in a fall league. The hope is this will lead to better continuity when the Catholic League starts its season later this month.
“It’s helped us so much because when you’re playing against bigger guys, you have no choice but to get better and stronger,” Horvay said. “That’s a great league with great competition. Now we’re playing again in a fall league. It just started, but it’s good. The more you play with guys, the better you’re going to get.
“I know a lot were upset we didn’t start the season (on time), but honestly, I think it’s better for us. We’re so young and we don’t have a lot of experience playing together. We have freshmen who are going to play key roles on this team. They’re great players, they’re going to be fine, but it’s good they are getting a chance to play with us. There’s just so much you can learn by being on the field together. And we’re getting a chance to do that.”
Horvay has learned a lot by being on the field with older players. And this year, he is dedicating the season to a player who set a fine example for Horvay.
Georgie Karusky was a leader on last year’s team. He passed away in May after a short battle with meningitis, but not before leaving a huge mark on Horvay and other Ryan players.
“When I first got to Ryan, I knew Georgie a little, but not well at all, and he took me under his wing right away,” Horvay said. “I miss him a lot. He wanted us to win more than anything. He wanted to win more than anything, but he also wanted us to win more than anything this year. He was going to help coach us.
“He’s with us every game. We bring his jersey. He’s still with us. I know he would love to see us win the championship this year. He loved the Ryan community.”
He wouldn’t be alone.
Horvay, who plans on playing soccer next year, wants to capture a championship for himself and his teammates, but the main reason he wants to win it is for the school.
“It’s been a long time since we won a championship, but the school is a soccer dynasty,” said Horvay, who is involved with the sports medicine club and is planning on joining Athletes Helping Athletes this year. “I think we have what we need to win a championship. The best team doesn’t always win, the team with the most heart can win. We’ve won with heart before. We’re going to play with all heart this year. That’s what we need to do to be successful.”