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Female Athletes of the Week: Kendall Cooper & Miracle Hershey (Week Ending February 4, 2024)

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Kendall Cooper

Kendall Cooper has been nothing short of outstanding this season for Annville-Cleona. During the week of January 29th, Cooper’s performances were pivotal in helping the Dutchmen notch two victories. On the 29th, she scored 25 points against Susquenita. Later in the week, Cooper scored 10 points in the first half of a blowout victory over Octorara. These performances caught the attention of our voters, who selected her as a LebCo Female Athlete of the Week.

In reality, Cooper probably was not just selected for these two performances. Her breakout junior campaign has been nothing short of outstanding, picking up several AOTW nominations resulting from consistently performing excellently. She finished the year as Annville’s top scorer with 13.2 points per game. Cooper also averaged 11 rebounds per contest.

Coach Wee Sanchez said of Cooper: “She is one of the most athletic players I’ve seen in our Lancaster-Lebanon League. She has a burst of speed on the court that it’s very hard to keep up, which is why she’s a heck of a track star. Kendall’s strength & height also gives her the ability to get to the rim and finish.”

The 6’0” tall Cooper also worked hard in the off-season, which paid dividends this season. According to Sanchez, the development of “a nice mid-range jumper has given her another arrow in the quiver.”

This hard work has helped Cooper make the most of her natural talent to become a three-sport star for Annville-Cleona. In the Fall, she is a significant contributor to the Field Hockey team. During the Spring, Cooper is among the best sprinters in the area, earning two individual medals at last year’s District 3 Track Championships and helping Annville win their first District title since 1986. She was also a key piece of the 4x100m relay team that took silver, a team that includes teammate Miracle Hershey.

Cooper (left) & Hershey (right) with their State Qualifying relay team

Cooper acknowledges that her support network helps drive her success. At home, it is her parents who are always there to support her. She describes her father as a “super fan” for her and her teammates, who will often text her inspirational messages. Not to be outdone, she is also thankful for her mother’s support, both for cheering her on and providing fantastic pre-game meals.

Most of all, she is thankful for her family and how they have helped her become the best person she can be. This is something that is reflected when considering her relationships with her teammates and coaches. Coach Sanchez summed it up by saying, “Kendall is definitely blessed to have great athletic ability, but most of all, Kendall’s character is top-notch, on and off the court.”

#34 Cooper with her teammates

These relationships are something that Cooper also sees as the most meaningful part of the basketball season. She told, “My favorite part about this season has been gaining such strong relationships with all of my teammates on and off the court to the point where they have become my best friends. I have gained such a strong connection with every one of them, and they have all impacted me in such incredible ways. They continue to make me a better person every day I get to be with them. Playing our last game with the seniors this season, who have been incredible teammates, leaders, and friends to us all, was one of the saddest nights of my life, but it was so amazing to get to see everything they have accomplished.”

Though many seniors are moving on with the season having come to its completion, Cooper will be back for one more. She is intent on working hard to prepare for next season when she hopes to lead Annville to the District 3 Playoffs.

Photos taken from Annville-Cleona social media pages



Miracle Hershey

Miracle Hershey has done whatever has been asked of her to help New Covenant win games. During the week of January 29th, Hershey stepped up offensively to help the Flames win three more victories. Against York Christian, she scored 19 points before then scoring 16 points against Our Lady of the Cross. In the three games, she also recorded 13 blocks. It was this, along with a consistent performance, that led the voters to select Hershey as a LebCo Female Athlete of the Week.

New Covenant is currently 12-7 ahead of Monday’s CCAC Playoff matchup with Linville Hill. As a result of their fine season, the Flames have seemingly locked up a District 3 Playoff berth. Qynne Demler is the main offensive weapon featured by New Covenant. However, it is Hershey who serves as a solid companion on the floor, doing whatever it takes to help the team win. This includes scoring and racking up stats on the defensive end that make her an instant double-double (sometimes a triple-double) in almost every game. In addition to the points, her stats include steals, blocks, and rebouding.

For Hershey, it starts with the overall hustle she provides, which accentuates her natural talent. Coach Nicole Buffenmeyer attempted to encapsulate what Hershey brings to the floor: “Miracle is an incredibly athletic young lady who also has an on-court awareness and intelligence to match. She’s the core of our defense and is always given the most difficult defensive assignments. Most times, the person she’s guarding has at least 4” of height on her, but because of her quickness, strength, jumping ability, and defensive IQ, Miracle makes things very difficult for the player she’s guarding. Her ability to rebound the ball and quickly make the outlet pass is vital to our success.”

Buffenmeyer went on to talk about what happened during a PIAA State Tournament game during Hershey’s freshman year. During a moment when she was subbed out, the opposing team’s fans began yelling, “Put her back in! We want to see her play!”. It is this type of effort that makes Hershey exciting to watch.

Hershey also brings that excitement to the Soccer field and the Track. While a key member of New Covenant’s soccer team, she is also a key member of Annville-Cleona’s Track & Field team as part of the co-op between the two schools. Last season, Hershey took 8th in both the 100m and 200m at the Lancaster Lebanon League Championships. She went on to take silver in the 100m at Districts, earning an invite to the PIAA State Champions. Hershey also served (along with Kendall Cooper) as a member of the 4x100m team that claimed silver at Districts. This helped Annville-Cleona earn its first District 3 team title since 1986.

When it comes to having a team around her, Hershey is thankful for the support of her parents and grandparents. She is also not alone when competing for New Covenant, as her sister Akaiya is a sophomore on both the soccer and basketball teams.

When asked about goals, Hershey broke it down into two simple items. Individually, she wants to get better. For the team, she wants to make Districts and extend the season as long as possible.
Given the current standings, it looks like she will have a chance to continue improving while playing in Districts. We wish Miracle and her teammates the best of luck in this endeavor.

However, it is also comforting knowing that whenever the basketball season officially ends, Hershey will be once again turning heads on the track.

Photos provided by the New Covenant Athletics Department




Read about this week’s Male Athlete of the Week: RJ Young


For a full list of this week’s nominees, check out: Athlete of the Week Voting: January 29 – February 4



Previous Winners

Kenzie Eckhart (Week of 12/4) 

Laci Lesher (Week of 12/4) 

Morgan Kline (Week of 12/11) 

Mya Doster (Week of 12/11) 

Kailah Correa (Holiday Weeks) 

Kylee Trostle (Holiday Weeks) 

Olive Brandt (Week of 1/8) 

Kasey Weimer (Week of 1/8) 

Qynne Demler (Week of 1/15)

Morgan Lantz (Week of 1/22)

Maddie Stout (Week of 1/22)



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