Danner will remember the friendships made
August 23 marks an important date for recent Northwestern graduate Lydia Danner. It’ll be the first time that she ever steps foot in a classroom.
Being home schooled her entire life, Danner has never been in a public classroom. Learning from the confines of her home in New Tripoli has become the norm over the years. But in late August, she’ll begin her collegiate career at Lehigh Carbon Community College.
“I’m more excited now that I went there and checked it out a bit,” Danner said. “I’m definitely excited to get out there and make more friends and be in an actual classroom. Now that I have my schedule and everything, I’m ready to get going.”
While some aspects of her life will change in a matter of weeks, others will remain constant. Danner, who has been playing softball since she was 10 years old, will continue that tradition at LCCC next spring.
“I’ve been home schooled my whole life, so transitioning from being home to a big school I was like, ‘I didn’t really want to do that,’” Danner said. “I always thought about going to a bigger school, but LCCC is more of a fit for me. They have a great softball team.
“The only way I got to make a lot of friends is through sports, and that’s what got me out there. Other than that I wouldn’t say it’s any different, other than the fact that I’m playing for the school but I’m home schooled. People would always come up to me and ask what it’s like to be home schooled. It’s basically like going to public school, just not there.”
Danner was the Lady Tigers’ ace on the mound that helped guide the team to semifinal appearances in both the Colonial League and District 11 tournaments. Both runs came to an end in that round — leagues against eventual champion Bangor (4-2) and districts by the hands of Bethlehem Catholic (1-0).
This past spring season, Northwestern went 11-6 in league play. Those 11 victories were the most conference wins for Northwestern in the past four years, and Danner and the Lady Tigers experienced their first league playoff appearance in that same time span.
“I wanted to make it further than we did, and I think we could have done that,” Danner said. “It was all fun for me anyway. It felt really good to be a part of it.”
Danner compiled a 7-3 record on the mound with 82 strikeouts and a 1.90 ERA. She appeared in all but one game for Northwestern this season and was named First-Team All-Colonial League. It was the second straight season that head coach Josh Zimmerman put Danner in charge as the lead ace, and she rose to the challenge.
“It’s nice when you get to have a little bit of control of the game, and you can go at your own pace and it’s not rushed,” Danner said. “I did like having that role, but I wasn’t selfish about it.”
In the offseason she plays tournament softball for the Northern Valley Cyclones and has been with the team since seventh grade. The journey from tournament ball to high school star to rising collegiate player started with a conversation at the age of 10.
“My mom played when she was in high school,” Danner said. “We were talking about it one night at dinner, just like a casual thing like, ‘When do you want to start a sport?’ And that was probably the first sport that came up. She did a bunch of stuff, so I was like I have to carry on that tradition. But not just because of that, but because I want to do that.”
Softball, however, only takes up one of the three high school sports seasons. And when it’s not spring, Danner’s time in the fall has been occupied with soccer. This past year, she was a key contributor in leading Northwestern back to the postseason stage.
Danner, an outside wing and forward, was one of Northwestern’s leading scorers in the fall and earned all-league second team honors. Along with a talented senior class, she steered the Lady Tigers to a 9-3 league mark, a Colonial League title appearance and a berth in the district semifinals.
But more important than the wins and losses, Danner was a key contributor in replacing last year’s senior class that included three former all-state performers in Sarah Segan, Sabrina Mertz and Angela Motolese.
“I didn’t want to dwell on the past personally because that’s not our team now,” Danner said. “We were basically rebuilding the senior class, but I thought we did a really good job of not dwelling on the past and what happened the years before. I didn’t want to try to be who they were. I don’t think anybody else did. It was fun. It was different to be a leader in soccer.”
The wins have been aplenty across both sports over her final season at Northwestern. Danner has played in many big games in both soccer and softball, and she figures to compete in many more in the upcoming years. But it’s another part of her final high school season that she’ll remember the most, even if she was home schooled for all of it.
“One time coach Zimmerman sat us down and said that you’re not going to remember what happened in this certain game, or the semifinals or anything like that,” Danner said. “I remember the bus rides. We would always sing on the bus rides. I remember the fun practices that we had. We talked about the most random stuff. The friendships you make are probably what I’ll remember the most.”