By Sophie Gallo, Staff Writer
On February 22, 2022, the last senior standing on the NPHS varsity basketball team was Alex Barbato. One of New Paltz’s captains, and a great inspiration to his team, he considers his final season.
While Alex has spent his years since 5th grade playing basketball, football, and baseball, he finds that basketball stands out to him for different reasons than his other sports. Over the many years of playing and observing, he admires the amount of work a player has to put in, and how the sport relies on the team itself.
“He’s a big part of our team. He’s a leader, he does a lot of the talking on the court, and he’s really our best leader.”Kanye Wittead, Sophomore
“If you don’t work together the sport falls apart, ” Alex says.
It’s true that every team member brings unique skills to the group, and Alex’s talent for leading was his greatest asset during his senior year.
“He’s a big part of our team. He’s a leader, he does a lot of the talking on the court, and he’s really our best leader,” Kanye Wittead, a sophomore on the team explains.
Barbato, the only senior and one of the captains, had the job of inspiring and motivating his team. Even without being here next year, he is leaving behind an expectation and standard for his team to do better than the last game, and the last season.
“[It] feels kinda good, because I know the promise for next year is that the team is going to be really good,” Alex says.
“Last season was definitely rough just because of all the COVID stuff that happened. We really didn’t have time to progress,” he adds.
While this year’s overall improvement for the players was strong compared to last, COVID- 19 was previously a substantial roadblock for the progress of the Varsity team and many others. Due to the high cases during the winter of 2021-2022, a spectator limit was put in place, limiting the crowd to just two fans per player. However, this restriction was lifted towards the end of the season, bringing back the crucial and motivating element that is characteristic of basketball.
“It was nice to see the community coming back out, especially since the spectator limit got lifted,” Barbato expresses.
This year’s senior recognition was a little different, given the spotlight was solely on Alex; out on the court with all eyes on him, he was like a celebrity soaking up the spotlight. This differed from the usual two to four seniors in past seasons. The team said a few things they admired about Barbato. It was their way of giving back to him, appreciating him for all he did for his team during his high school career.
“It was really wonderful to have a captain who cares about us.”Beckett Weires, Junior
“To see him being honored was incredible. All of the people that came out, and the atmosphere… We might have lost the game, but we still had a great time,” recalls Nick DeGiacomo, a junior on the NPHS varsity basketball team.
Used to cheering crowds in the bleachers motivating him to play his best, Barbato could feel the difference in everyone’s game when the spectator limit threw a wrench in the room’s enthusiasm. Despite the lack of energy discouraging him, he lived up to his title of team captain, guiding the team throughout the whole season, earning himself great admiration from his teammates. His addition to the group will surely be missed.
“It was really wonderful to have a captain who cares about us,” Beckett Weires, a junior on the team concluded.