Bellefonte three-sport athlete Tyler Kreger has become accustomed to eating reheated spaghetti these past few years, while softball classmate Tara Baney has mastered the art of finishing homework while snacking on dinner.
There was little time for much else. After games, Kreger would routinely return home from school around 8 p.m. before studying for an hour, playing NBA 2K17 and calling it a night. Baney would focus on homework during team bus rides and might boast a half-hour to relax.
The two have had to constantly adjust, multitask and work hard these past four years to excel in the the classroom and in athletics. And, as a result, Baney and Kreger were both honored Monday evening for all their work with the James H. Snyder Awards — which are given in memory of Snyder, a former CDT sports editor, who was killed in an automobile crash in December of 1957.
“I was honestly shocked,” Baney said. “I think it was amazing that I got the award. Really, no words can describe it.”
Said Kreger: “It’s certainly a huge honor — just to see the those who have gotten it before and the local schools who gave it out over the past week. Just to be with Tara, another amazing person both academically and athletically, it’s a great honor.”
Both Baney and Kreger have been regular mentions in this sports section. Baney is arguably the top softball pitcher in the region — she’s a four-time all-district selection — while Kreger is a three-sport team captain who earned first-team all-league honors in football and baseball, to go along with an honorable mention in basketball.
But it’s their achievements off the fields and the courts that pushed the two over the top, causing them to stand and be recognized by their classmates during an awards ceremony Monday.
In-between eating reheated dinners on the weekdays, Kreger became a dedicated member of the National Honor Society (NHS) and volunteered with youth basketball leagues. He studied hard, took several honors and Advanced Placement courses and finished with a weighted GPA of near 97 percent.
Unsurprisingly, Baney was pretty similar. She was also a member of NHS — in addition to spending three years in the Spanish Honor Society. The fast-throwing pitcher finished with a weighted GPA of more than 94 percent, while serving as the class cabinet secretary.
Baney graduated 23rd in her class of 189 students. Kreger graduated 12th.
“I pride myself on my hustle,” Kreger said. “I feel like no matter what I do, I always hustled around. I tried to push my teammates to do the same because you can have all the talent in the world but, if you have no hustle, you’re not going to be worth anything.”
That’s something both Kreger and Baney appear to have plenty of. Baney would even hustle down her dinner on the weeknights, and Kreger made sure to never miss a homework assignment.
Both were leaders on and off the field. Both took part in a “Senior Institute” class, where they helped raise $8,000 for a local woman diagnosed with cancer. And, on the diamond, Baney helped lead the Lady Red Raiders to three District 6 softball championships, while Kreger saw his baseball team win the state title as a junior and his basketball team reach unprecedented heights as a senior.
“It takes a lot of dedication to balance athletics and academics at the same time,” Baney said. “You just have to have a passion for your sport and education. It’s a balancing act, but you find somehow to get it down.”
Those four years of work culminated Monday with the Snyder Awards — but the pair are far from finished. Baney will attend Bloomsburg University in the fall to major in exercise science, while Kreger will stay close to home with a pre-med major at Penn State (University Park).
And, wherever they wind up in the future, they’ll always be reminded of what they accomplished in high school. The Snyder Awards should only help to reinforce that.
“It’s just an honor be acknowledged for my academic and athletic success,” Kreger said. “And it shows all my hard work paid off.”
What they’re saying about the winners
On Tara Baney
“Tara Baney is one of the hardest working, most dedicated athletes that I have ever had the pleasure of coaching. Her commitment to her sport and her teammates is unwavering. But more importantly, she is also one of the most decent and most genuine people that I know. Tara is an outstanding athlete, student and person and I am honored to have had the opportunity to coach her.”
— Bellefonte softball coach Fred Caldwell
On Tyler Kreger
“Tyler is the ultimate teammate. He ways makes sure not only he, but all his teammates are doing the right things at the right times. No matter what his struggles or successes may be, he is worried about his teammates performance. T.K. works very hard, he is very committed, and a very skilled athlete. He is a huge part of BHS baseball. He will succeed in life.”
— Bellefonte baseball coach Dan Fravel