Neuqua Valley Spring Athletes Take the Stage

May 1, 2022
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It may not seem like it on the surface, but there are a lot of similarities between great athletes and great actors. Both need a strong work ethic, a willingness to repeat the same activity again and again until it’s perfected, a passion for the craft and of course talent and skill. Find out more in this Off the Field, presented by Advantage Acura.

2022 finally saw the return of the spring musical at schools across the area, a chance to enthrall the masses with crowd pleasing anthems, well oiled choreography and fun filled performances for the first time in over two years. At Neuqua Valley, the theatre department selected Grease as the show this spring. This year, the cast included several Wildcat athletes turned thespians.

Wildcat Athletes Take the Stage

Juniors Dylan Sedgwick and Niamh Nugent and freshman Brooke Hennig and William Ledesma all play spring sports for Neuqua in addition to performing in the large ensemble of the classic 70’s favorite. Sedgwick is a varsity member of the Wildcat boys lacrosse team, Nugent runs track and field, Hennig is on the dance team and the freshman girls lacrosse team while Ledesma plays freshman boys volleyball. Competing in high school athletics at the same time as being parts of the spring musical is no easy feat, especially when you factor daily school work into the mix. But with these four, the long days of school, practice, games and rehearsal is well worth the effort.

While Dylan Sedgwick’s 6’6 frame has proven beneficial over the years on the football field or the lacrosse pitch, the junior thoroughly enjoys the unique advantages it can bring on the stage.

Working Hard on the Field and on Set

For Neuqua Valley theatre department chair Johnathan Pontarelli, a former high school athlete himself, athletes bring a lot of skills to the theatre department and the shows throughout the year despite their hectic schedules.

There are many traits that have been developed through athletic performance that translate well towards being on stage or in front of a camera.

It’s not just the spring that’s busy for Niamh Nugent, in addition to theatre and track, she is also a member of the cheerleading and speech teams at Neuqua, as well as other clubs in the school.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

It’s the cooperation of teachers like Johnathan Pontarelli and the Neuqua Valley coaches working with these students to maneuver the scheduling obstacles and encouraging them to pursue their passions in a variety of areas.

What makes theatre at Neuqua Valley and in schools across the country so special is the opportunity to bring people together from a wide variety of backgrounds, experience and skill levels to create something spectacular.

While the future is still wide open for these four Wildcats to decide which avenues to pursue, athletically, theatrically, or maybe neither…or maybe both! It’s clear that right now, the opportunity to perform for their school on the field and in shows like “Grease” has been nothing short of an incredible experience.

For Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Justin Cornwell.