Megan Husslein has thrived as the DeSales girls tennis team's first singles player since the start of last season, having gone 33-6 on that court entering the week.
At the same time, the senior is learning to be comfortable in another visible role -- one she hopes will be a key stop on the path to becoming a sportscaster.
As a student reporter for the school's athletics website, PouringPurple.com, Husslein is learning about several facets of the broadcasting industry. In addition to recording weekly football previews with Stallions players and coaches, Husslein conducts 60- to 90-second interviews with players in a weekly segment called "In the Stallion Hot Seat" and then edits and produces the videos herself.
"My parents have always had ESPN on or Yankees games because my dad is from New York," Husslein said. "I've always had a passion for sports and I realized I wanted to talk about them for a career."
Husslein has been solid playing them as well.
She has been on the varsity softball team the past two years as a designated hitter, first baseman and third baseman and took up tennis almost on the spur of the moment as a sophomore. She met coach Tom Snyder -- who also is the school's director of digital communications and the voice of Pouring Purple -- while hitting tennis balls with a friend during the summer.
Husslein earned her way onto varsity and played first doubles as a sophomore before moving up to first singles last year. She went 21-5 and earned the third seed in a Division I sectional tournament at Pickerington Central a year ago and was 12-1 this season before a Sept. 9 match at Canal Winchester.
"She took it to the next level last year," Snyder said. "It's just her consistency. It's amazing to me. If you look at a 12-month snapshot of her life, tennis is a small portion of it. She and her mom work on things, but she does travel softball and plays for our team. When she comes around, she is ready to compete. You'd never know she just does this seasonally."
Husslein extended her tennis season beyond the fall, taking lessons from Kelly Story at Scarborough East Tennis Club after last season.
"I expected this (success this season). I knew I had a successful season last year. I want to build on that and do even better," Husslein said. "My forehand cross-court is probably my best shot. I've been working a lot on my backhand and that's been improving, too."
Snyder also sees natural talent in Husslein when it comes to broadcasting, although Husslein actively has sought advice from professionals, including ESPN anchor Elle Duncan.
DeSales graduate Ryan Velazquez, a former Pouring Purple student reporter and current junior at Ohio State who has worked with OSU's student newspaper and the Big Ten Network, also has been a mentor.
"(Pouring Purple) is an opportunity for Megan to be creative," Snyder said. "It lets her produce, edit and be on-camera, everything she will need at the next level, wherever she ends up."
Husslein credited Snyder with, among other things, helping her feel comfortable on camera.
"He has just told me on-camera tips and how to interview people," Husslein said. "He just tells me to stay natural and carefree, not be stressed out and act like the camera isn't even there."
Husslein plans to attend either Ohio State or Ohio University to major in broadcasting, but a more immediate goal is helping the Stallions sustain their strong start to the season. DeSales was 7-0 overall before playing Canal Winchester and 1-0 in the CCL entering a Sept. 10 match against Ready.
The Stallions began league play Sept. 3 with a 5-0 win over Hartley at Otterbein.
"(Getting to) ESPN is my ultimate goal," Husslein said. "But I'd be happy working anywhere until I get there."
Boys golf team hitting stride
According to coach Tony Pinson, the boys golf team entered September having "finally started to click."
DeSales shot a 326 in Bexley's Bob Darwin Memorial Invitational on Aug. 31 at Westchester, tying Buckeye Valley for sixth place out of 19 teams as Cincinnati Mariemont won (293). Three days later at Champions, the Stallions shot a 166 in a nine-hole round against Canal Winchester.
Michael Cummins shot a 37 to earn medalist honors against Canal Winchester and carded a 77 to lead the Stallions in the Bob Darwin Memorial Invitational.
"That 326 was excellent for us, and I think it's been a while since we've done that well in an invitational," Pinson said. "Our scores are starting to come together. We have five seniors (Cummins, Andrew Connor, Colin Moriarty, Ryan Ratchford and Kyle Zevchik) who are really playing together well. They're just playing smart golf. They're avoiding the big numbers, not taking penalties and saving strokes."
According to Pinson, the Stallions' busy schedule has helped his players improve. They generally have played two duals and one 18-hole tournament per week, although they do not have an invitational this weekend.
DeSales' next 18-hole round will be the Watterson Invitational on Sept. 21 at Clover Valley, followed the next day by the CCL postseason tournament at Denison Golf Club.
"We've been going four to five days a week most weeks and the guys continue to evolve," Pinson said. "They're going to improve when they get a lot of work in."
Boys soccer team enters CCL play
The boys soccer team's two returning starters were its top two scorers through five games, in which DeSales went 4-1.
Jack Francisco had six goals and Will Shaffer had five for the Stallions, who won their first four games before losing to host Worthington Kilbourne 4-2 on Sept. 5. Shaffer scored both goals against the Wolves and goalkeeper Gabe Weikert made seven saves.
DeSales, which began CCL play Sept. 10 at home against St. Charles, won its first four games by a combined score of 15-4.
The Stallions opened Aug. 22 with a 4-1 home win over Marysville and won two road games, 3-1 at Covington (Kentucky) Catholic on Aug. 24 and 2-0 at Grove City on Aug. 29, before beating visiting Granville 6-2 on Sept. 3.
Football team looking to bounce back
Among the issues football coach Ryan Wiggins was hoping to address following his team's 35-28 victory over Dayton Carroll on Aug. 31 were miscues that led to 160 yards in penalties and two turnovers.
He also hoped to see improvement in the running game.
That occurred to an extent in Week 2 against Dublin Jerome, but the Celtics scored all 24 points of the second half on their way to a 45-14 victory and the Stallions were forced to throw for much of the final two quarters.
Junior running back Quintell Quinn rushed 15 times for 118 yards and one touchdown and senior running back Jaylen Ball had three carries in his first game of the season after missing the opener with an injury.
Quarterback Reno Godfrey was intercepted three times by Jerome, while Quinn and Owen Faulkner had interceptions for the Stallions.
"I'm proud of the way our guys fight," Wiggins said. "I just know we've got to play a lot better. We've had a lot of injuries."
DeSales will try to bounce back Friday, Sept. 13, when it plays host to Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin in the first meeting between the programs.
After opening with a 26-22 loss to Willoughby South on Aug. 30, the Lions beat Chesterland West Geauga 35-28 on Sept. 6.
NDCL made four consecutive playoff appearances from 2014-17 before finishing 7-3 and falling short of making the Division III, Region 9 playoffs last year.
Senior quarterback Jon Sharp has proven to be a multi-faceted threat for the Lions, throwing for 253 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 64 yards in the opener.
Senior running back Jack Robinson also has been a key member of NDCL's offense.
-- Jarrod Ulrey
Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 14 -- Newark Invitational
Sept. 17 -- Hartley at Blacklick Woods
Sept. 16 -- Westerville North at NorthStar
Sept. 17 -- Dublin Coffman, Newark Catholic and Olentangy Liberty at Muirfield Village
Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
*Sept. 17 -- Home vs. Hartley
*Sept. 12 -- At Watterson
Sept. 14 -- At Dublin Coffman
Sept. 16 -- At Mount Vernon in makeup from Aug. 26
*Sept. 17 -- Watterson at Park of Roses
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Watterson. The Stallions defeated the Eagles 25-15, 24-26, 25-15, 25-16 on Sept. 3.
Sept. 14 -- Worthington Kilbourne Invitational
*Sept. 17 -- At Ready. The Stallions defeated the Silver Knights 25-14, 25-13, 25-21 on Sept. 5.