Penn Hills’ Silverman is a student-athlete for all seasons

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Saturday, April 10, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Jonah Silverman is a unique two-sport athlete at Penn Hills.

This spring, Silverman’s competing in track and field and baseball. And that’s after he participated in soccer and football in the fall, followed by a stint with the indoor track team this winter.

“Even though I’ve played baseball since I was 5, it’s only my first year playing for the high school because without covid, the track schedule is just too busy to do both,” Silverman said. “Since there aren’t as many invitationals, I can manage playing baseball and competing in track.

“Juggling two sports isn’t the easiest, but I’m used to it from playing soccer and kicking for the football team in the fall. Schedule-wise, I go to track practice first, and when I’m done with my workout, I change and head to the baseball field. Usually, I’ll get some extra batting practice after our team practice is over. It’s a busy day but I like to be busy.”

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Silverman focuses on the 400- and 800-meter runs on the track with the 800 being his strongest event.

“It’s what I’ve been training for since my freshman year,” he said. “In track, I’m not where I’d like to be right now, but there’s a lot of season left and a lot of guys that I ran with last year are in the same boat. In baseball, I’ve been playing right (field) the past couple of games.”

Silverman also runs a leg in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays for the Indians.

“Jonah is having a good season so far, especially making practice for track and baseball,” said Lee Zelkowitz, PH’s veteran track coach. “I really marvel how he is able to balance both sports in the same season. I guess he is getting used to it as he did the same with soccer and football in the fall.”

“Jonah works very hard in practice and helps pull teammates through tough workouts. He definitely leads by example and is really doing an outstanding job. He is a great team leader. He has grown so much from his freshman year and has really exceeded my expectations. It’s a real shame he missed a year of track because of covid. I still am expecting him to have a successful season.”

Silverman said Zelkowitz has been a major force in his athletic career.

“Coach Lee has definitely been one of my best influences throughout my high school career,” Silverman said. “He’s constantly pushing me and keeping me on track to stay in shape and to keep myself healthy.

“My parents are also great influences as they’ve supported me in my sports since I was a toddler playing tee-ball.”

Silverman will have earned four letters in outdoor track, three in indoor track, three in soccer, two in football and one in baseball.

Silverman netted seven goals as a defenseman on the soccer team this fall and was voted to the Finest 15 in his section. He also nabbed all-section honors as a junior.

“I was a centerback through my high school career, but I moved up to striker for the second half of my senior season,” he said.

On Friday nights, he accounted for 13 extra points and two field goals in 2020, after connecting for 33 PATs and one field goal in 2019, and was a two-time all-conference selection.

He has served as a team captain in soccer and currently is captain of the boys track team.

“My favorite sport is probably track,” Silverman said, “because you really have to grind it out, which makes it rewarding to see progress.”

Silverman plans to attend Kent State and study computer science. He will graduate from Penn Hills with a 3.9 GPA.

“I chose Kent State because of the merit scholarship I received and also because both my parents went there,” he said. “Plus, it’s not too far from home, it’s a bigger school and I know a good amount of people who are going there.

“I’m planning to try out for their football team and hopefully walk on as a kicker/punter.”

Silverman has proved to be just as busy in the classroom as he athletically.

He has participated in the prestigious Hometown High Q throughout high school, is vice president of student council and was on his school’s homecoming court.

The outdoor track season is heating up with several long-standing invitationals slated over the next few weeks.

In baseball, Penn Hills competes in Section 2-5A with Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Hampton, Mars, Plum and Woodland Hills. Mars was ranked No. 2 in Class 5A in the TribLive HSSN preseason rankings.

“I have high hopes for both (PH teams),” Silverman said. “In track, we’re pretty small but everyone is very dedicated and I’m seeing a lot of improvement.

“For baseball, we have very solid fielding and when we can string hits together we can play with anyone. We’re hoping to make playoffs this year.”

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