by Herm Rogul
Kyle Bonus, a 5’8” senior from Lafayette Hill, is a diver, a swimmer and the top scorer in the thriving William Penn Charter School girls water polo team.
“I’m averaging four goals a game and we average nine goals,” she said. “Our team is doing very well. Water polo is physical, there is technical work and there is a lot of excitement. We are a close-knit family.
“I drive through and get to open water. I swim the 50 butterfly and 500 freestyle, which helps me in water polo.”
Coach Tom Tracey said, “Kyle is an aggressive player. She is our top scorer. Kyle is lighthearted and funny.”
Junior Marion Hirshberg: “Kyle is very strong and she knows how to get the job done. She is a funny girl.”
Senior Martina Merlo: “Kyle is very strong and she has an advantage with her size. She moves to open space and shoots well. Kyle is very bubbly, always smiling. She teaches the younger girls.”
Bonus is a better diver than swimmer.
“I have a great coach, Bob Cragg,” Kyle said. “He works with me in the summer and helps me excel. I won at the Eastern meet. My best dive is an inward one and a half.”
Bonus enjoys singing with Penn Charter’s girls a cappella group.
“We don’t have a name,” she said, “and we don’t enter competitions. We have two concerts every year. It’s a fun time.”
Her favorite teacher is Ben Dzeizic, English.
“I’m a better writer because of him,” Kyle said. “He gave me extra help.”
Bonus will dive and study environmental science at either New Hampshire or Vermont.
She thanks parents Joe and Robin for driving her to many sports — mainly soccer — when she was young. Brothers Teddy and Joe swim for the University of Denver. They played water polo for Germantown Academy and Penn Charter.
“They have always been great role models,” Kyle said. “They told me to work my hardest.”
Martina Merlo is a 5’2” left-handed captain of Penn Charter’s Inter-Ac leading girls volleyball team and a mainstay in the Dad Likes Strawberries musical group.
“I play guitar and I’m the lead vocalist,” Martina said. “Sam Allingham is our drummer, Candace Todd is lead guitar and Jamie Lozoff plays bass. We’ve performed at Connie’s Ricrac Restaurant in South Philadelphia and at the Trocadero.
“We’ve been well-received. They ask us to come back. Our best new song is ‘Sweden.’”
In water polo, Merlo is disadvantaged at 5’2” and advantaged as a southpaw.
“At 5’2,” I can get around people and fit into small places,” she said. “I can get up on my feet when I have to. If you are short, you need to be smart, quick and strong.
“Left-handers stay on the right side of the pool. I move around and get open. I have a strong shot. I love the closeness of our team. I like water sports. I am better in water than on land.”
Coach Tom Tracey said, “Martina is left-handed, which makes her a better ball handler. She can shoot from better angles. Martina has a dry sense of humor.”
Junior Marion Hirshberg: “Martina has a strong knowledge of water polo. She has taught me a lot since I was in eighth grade. She is fun to have on our team.”
Senior Kyle Bonus: “Martina helps keep the team together. She is left-handed, which is rare in water polo. Her personality fits well with our team.”
Merlo plans to major in journalism in college and gain the skills she will need to become a freelance film producer.
“My favorite teacher, Martina said, “is Mr. (Jake) Morrow, Latin. We sit in groups and translate. He’s really interested in his subject. We definitely have smart kids in Latin class.”
Martina lives with her mother, Manuela.
“I owe her everything, Martina said. “I adore her. She has told me not to dwell on things, but to do what makes me happy.
“My father, Antonio, was a national water polo player in Italy. He coaches Penn’s men’s water polo team, which is nationally ranked. They’re really big and they play a technical game. Men’s water polo has more contact, but girls water polo is tougher.”