Senior spotlight: Highlands’ speedy Sarah Sawhook selects Seton Hill

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 | 6:01 AM

Editor’s note: Each day, the Tribune-Review will spotlight a WPIAL spring athlete whose senior year has been put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic. For more athletes’ stories, visit

At a time like this, with their lives stuck in an awkward sort of limbo, high school seniors could use something to look forward to.

Last week, Highlands’ Sarah Sawhook made sure there would be plenty of game nights to savor in her future.

Sawhook committed to play basketball at Seton Hill. She said she liked the school’s natural and health sciences department, which could help her on the path toward becoming a physician’s assistant, and the school’s Catholic faith, which matches her own.

She also likes coach Mark Katarski’s up-tempo style. As a 5-foot-2 guard, she is all about leading the fast break and scoring from behind the 3-point arc.

“I might be short, but speed is my game,” Sawhook said. “That’s how I compensate for my height.”

Sawhook, a four-year starter, led Highlands with 11 points per game last season. She was playing her best basketball at the end of the year, scoring 17 points against WPIAL champion North Catholic, 25 against Apollo-Ridge and 22 against Burrell.

A standout center fielder, she was about to carry that momentum into the softball season when the coronavirus struck.

“It’s very different,” Sawhook said. “It’s disappointing because we practiced all that time, and we have a great team this year. We were expected to do a lot. With the coronavirus, it feels like we lost a little bit of touch with reality.”

Sawhook uses a regular workout regimen to stay upbeat.

With her dad’s help, she works on her shot and ball-handling on an outdoor court and takes batting and fielding practice on a softball diamond. She runs hills and climbs bleachers and walks her Husky around the neighborhood.

“There’s a lot of different things you can do despite the limitations of the coronavirus,” Sawhook said.

What’s your best sports memory at Highlands?

My best memory was definitely senior night. It was very emotional because it was my last high school game, and practically all of my family members and friends were there to support me. I knew it was something special. There was an extremely large crowd, so everyone could feel the energy and the passion in the gym. We (played) Burrell. It was a very close game, and the score kept fluctuating between us and them taking the lead. Unfortunately, we ended up losing. Only three points, but we lost. Despite that, it was an unforgettable game because my team gave our best effort and we were very enthusiastic and motivated and supportive. I ended up with 22 points. It was a good game.

What’s your best memory as a sports fan?

My family and I, in 2013, we went to 20 Pirate games that year because they were on fire, and that was like the first time they made playoffs in a long time. Out of the games we went to, they won 19 out of 20, so we had a pretty good record.

Who would you say is your school’s biggest rival?

Either Burrell or Freeport. Local teams always seem to be our rivals.

Have you always wanted to get into the medical field?

I always like to help people. I’m trying to be a physician’s assistant, but that’s not until graduate school. I’m trying to get a bachelor’s degree in something similar. I’m looking at nutrition or nursing. I think nursing would be good, just in case I don’t make the physician’s assistant program. I could be a nurse or even a nurse practitioner, maybe get my master’s in nursing in the future.

If you could pick anyone to give a commencement speech at your graduation, who would it be?

My dad. He’s a great speaker. He’s very outgoing, and he’s a great motivator. He’s very confident, and he believes in me, even when I’m down.

If you were asked to give a speech, what advice would you give to underclassmen?

No matter what you do, make sure you always give your full effort. Time goes by very quickly. Specifically in sports, don’t take any practices or games for granted. Especially with the coronavirus. It teaches athletes that upcoming practices or games are never guaranteed.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review Assistant Sports Editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at or via Twitter .


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