Between them Serra Degnan and Nick O’Brien have more letters than alphabet soup.
It might be said Degnan is a female version of O’Brien, or O’Brien is a male version of Degnan.
Either way, according to Wyoming Area athletic director Joe Pizano, the Wyoming Area seniors “are the two best all-around athletes I’ve seen in the 15 years I’ve been here.”
A search for more versatile athletes than Degnan or O’Brien at Wyoming Area might go deeper into the past than 15 years, or even back to the beginning, but in any case Pizano put it this way. “If we sent them out to play ping-pong they’d be the best ping-pong players. If we had a curling team, my money would be on them.”
The parallels between the two are many. Both are all-star caliber three-sport athletes, plus one. Degnan has been a starter at the most important positions: in field hockey, forward; basketball, point guard; and softball, short stop; since she was a freshman. When she can fit it in she runs sprints for the track team between softball games.
O’Brien, as the school’s all-time leading rusher, is best known as a football player, but he also wrestles in the winter, where he qualified for districts, and plays centerfield in baseball in the spring and also runs sprints for the track team.
He’s the no. 1 seed in the 100 in District 2 AAA and no.2 in the 200 and javelin.
Both made all-state, she in field hockey, he in football. Both are going to D-1 schools, he, Bucknell for football, and she, Syracuse for field hockey.
Both are considered small for high-level athletes. She’s 5-3, he’s 5-9. But both are all-out, dirty-uniform hustlers with instincts, game smarts and speed.
Wyoming Area baseball coach Chick Andrewscavage said of O’Brien, “God gave him something.”
Asked about Degnan, softball coach Barry Pryzbyla said, “She can hit with power, she’s got speed.” He laughed aloud talking about her fielding, saying, “She plays her position with unbelievable skill.”
One parallel between Degnan and O’Brian is uncanny. One week early in the spring O’Brien hit a home run in a baseball game and then a couple days later went over to the track and won the 100 and 200 sprints, setting a school record in the 200.
As if challenged, a couple weeks later Degnan hit a home run in a softball game and then a couple days later went over to the track and won the 200.
Degnan is flattered by the comparison, but doesn’t put herself in O’Brien’s class. “He’s amazing. In football he plays every position. He’s the talk of the football nation. I guess we’re kind of alike, we both play a lot of sports and we do fairly well in them. I’m kind of like the girls’ version of him, but he’s much better than me.”
O’Brien said Degnan gets his attention. “Me and Serra have been friends since 7th grade. I’ve seen her play and I’ve always been impressed by what she can do. It seems like she’s the top girl around the area and it’s fun to watch her play.”
Pizano said having the pair of once-in-a-generation athletes in the same high school class has been a great for Wyoming Area above their obvious athleticism. “They’re coachable, they’re respectful and they’re dedicated.”