YARDLEY – The Block family has been giving back to the Pennsbury basketball community for more than 20 years.
Just ask Meredith Webber and Joey Monaghan. Pennsbury seniors for the girls and boys basketball teams, respectively, the two are this year’s recipients of the Rick and Chris Block Memorial Basketball Scholarship, awarded to the brothers who once roamed the court at the Falcons Nest.
Inducted into the Pennsbury Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002, Rick died in a tragic plane crash in 1993 and a year later, Chris helped establish the Rick Block Memorial Scholarship in his older brother’s name. For a decade, the younger brother helped select the Pennsbury player who best exemplified excellence in academics, community service, leadership and, of course, basketball.
Then in 2005, Chris, a 1985 graduate and 2004 Pennsbury Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee, died in his sleep, the victim of Hypertrobic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). With the passing of Chris at the much-too-young-to-die age of 38, the name of the scholarship was changed in 2006 to memorialize both brothers.
On Friday, April 1, the Block family gathered – as it does every year – at the Makefield Highlands Gold Club in Yardley.
“It was a really big honor and really unexpected for me to receive this award – to be welcomed into a part of their family,” said Webber.
“That night will hold with me forever; it was a really big thing for me.”
There’s no doubt about the prowess of the Block brothers on the hardwood. At one time, Rick held records for field goal percentage in a game, a season and for his career. A career .679 shooter from the floor, Rick shot 72.1 percent in a season and 82.4 percent from the floor in a single game.
Also a prolific rebounder, Rick registered 971 career boards, grabbing onto 425 caroms in a single season and 25 in a single game. His 142 steals still rank among the best to play the game at Pennsbury.
Chris was also a good player. A career .553 shooter from the floor, he scored nearly 500 points in a single season for the Falcons. His 1,140 career points ranks just behind Rick’s 1,205.
The scholarship is not about proficiency in basketball, says family matriarch Jan Block, however. It’s about displaying character on and off the court, the reason why the family chose Webber and Monaghan.
Joey says he heard all about the block brothers from his stepdad.
“My stepdad went to school with them and he said they were amazing – that they brought it every single game – on and off the court,” said Monaghan.
“They played team ball and they gave 100 percent every single game.”
Monagan follows 2016 graduate Rob Daly as the Block Scholarship nominee from the boys basketball team.
“Robb was a player who every game played his heart out, played hard, dove on the floor for every loose ball,” stated Monaghan. “I’m honored to be considered in the same category as Robb. I feel like we both did the same thing.”
Off the court, Joey is a volunteer with Operation Smile and has performed community service at Saint Ignatius Roman Catholic Church.
For her part, Webber has been involved with the Pennsbury Minithon – the event’s proceeds go to help fight pediatric cancer – for the past two years.
“I hold that close to my heart because it really means a lot to me.”
Meredith is also a volunteer with Yardley-Makefield Soccer (YMS) Special Stars program which helps teach children with Autism and other types of disabilities how to play soccer. She’s also involved with Athletes Helping Athletes and has performed community service through God’s Love Lutheran Church in Newtown.
On the court, Pennsbury more than doubled its previous season’s win total under first-year coach Frank Sciolla. Speaking about her favorite Falcon basketball memories in her scholarship essay, Webber said she enjoyed playing for the man who once coached the Pennsbury boys team before leaving for stints at Bristol and Conwell-Egan where he led the team to a state championship.
“We progressed this year a lot,” said Webber. “I’m really happy for the girls program to have him.
“He coached me when I was little so it was really cool to have him as a coach for leadership skills – just to get that under my belt before I go to college.”
“It was just really cool to play for him again,” I love his competitive spirit. It meant a lot to me to be able to perform in a competitive way in a sport other than soccer.”
Joey liked being a big contributor to a boys varsity team that earned a No. 6 seeding and a first-round bye in the District 1 Class 6A Tournament and a thrilling 84-83 overtime win over Norristown.
“We did better than we did last year but I thought we could have gone farther,” said Monaghan. “We played well as a team and we did some great things this season, and won some great games.
“We lost some tough ones but I think it was a great season in my heart.”
The kind of season that would have been appreciated by Rick and Chris Block and their family members as a whole.
Past Block Memorial scholars include Daly, Abbie and Katie Wick (2016), Amy Blazejewski, Courtney Kruscavage (2013), Jae Jackson (2013), Amie Eppolito, Zack Sibel, Jesse Krasna, Tom Marcinkowski, Sarah Thorn, Bradie Vaughan, Meghan McDavid (scholarship renamed), Brian Besecker, Lindsey Krasna, Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman, Matthew Kettles, Meghan Sweeney (first female), Kurt Bergmann, Jeff Piscadlo, Michael Collins, Mark Hentosh, John Maxey and Jared Birnbaum (1995).
TOP PHOTO: Pennsbury senior Joey Monaghan (22), right, is this year’s Rick & Chris Block Memorial Basketball Scholarship award winner for the Falcon boys team. Meredith Webber was the nominee for the girls. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)