Frank Musumici is your typical local teenager. He’s a West New York resident, he’s 15 years old, and loves playing basketball.
But Musumici just enjoyed the trip of a lifetime playing the sport he loves.
Musumici just recently spent a week in Austria – of all places – participating in the United World Games for the United States Student-Athlete World 16-and-under team in Klagenfurt, Austria.
More importantly, Musumuci’s team won the gold medal in the tournament, defeating a team from the United States Air Force Base located in Stuttgart, Germany.
So how does a West New York kid get the chance to play for a United States team in Austria?
“I went to an All-America showcase in Monroe [New Jersey],” Musumici explains. “And one of the scouts there told the people involved with the Student-Athlete World team about me.”
Musumici is a point guard who played freshman basketball for Hoboken High School last winter.
“I was sent an invitation to play for the team,” Musumici said. “I didn’t expect anything out of it.”
When a local kid receives a letter in the mail, asking him if he would like to play for a team going to Austria – an invitation coming totally out of the blue – one would have to be a tad skeptical.
After all, young Frank isn’t exactly the next coming of LeBron James. Musumici played a lot for the Redwings’ freshman team last season, but he didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard.
“The letter actually put me in shock,” said Musumici, who was the lone player from New Jersey on the United States Student-Athlete World team. “At first, we didn’t know much about this. But we did some research and found out that the group takes kids to play overseas.”
The Musumici family wasn’t the only one to do some checking into it. The local sports columnist did the same. He was just as skeptical as the Musumicis were.
But the online research turned out to be fruitful. The organization was legit.
“I thought I was dreaming,” Frank Musumici said. “I didn’t think it was real.”
Young Frank and his father, Frank, Sr. took the journey to Europe to begin Frank’s sojourn of a lifetime. They first flew seven hours to Frankfurt, Germany, then another flight to Italy and finally a bus ride to Austria.
“All together, it was 11 hours,” Musumici said. “The time difference and all and the jet lag, that just got to me a little. I spent a day just getting used to it.”
Musumici then met his new teammates for practice in Klagenfurt.
“I was nervous when we first started, but then when we started playing, I got used to it,” Musumici said. “Then I was excited. I was playing for our country, wearing USA on my chest. It was incredible. I felt like I was dreaming.”
The competition at the United World Games came from all over the globe.
“There were teams from China, Japan, Turkey and Austria,” Musumici said. “When I first touched the ball, I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I should just give up the ball.”
Musumici got comfortable with his new international surroundings and teammates.
“I felt I shined there,” Musumici said. “Everyone told me that I played pretty well.”
There was only one problem. After the first game, Musumici suffered a sprained knee in the semifinals against a team from Austria called KOS Celovec that kept him on the sidelines until the title game. His coach, T.J. Morrison from Triton High School in southern New Jersey, told a local newspaper that he felt bad for Musumici. The USA Student-Athlete World team overcame a big deficit to win, 49-45, in overtime against KOS Celovec.
“I hated that Musumici got hurt,” Morrison said. “But I was happy to get him on the court at the end, so he could say he played in the final game.”
Musumici is getting treatment for his knee now that he’s back home, but he came back to Hoboken wearing a big gold medal.
“I tried to ignore the pain on the trip home,” Musumici said. “I slept a lot.”
All in all, it was the trip to end all trips.
“It really was exciting,” Musumici said. “I felt like I was dreaming the whole time. Especially when they put the gold medal around my neck. That was just unbelievable.”
Musumici said that he met friends at the tournament.
“I made a couple of different friends from different states,” Musumici said. “I met two guys from Austria. I’m going to try to keep in touch with everyone. It really is a great feeling, to finally get over there and winning. I liked going to the different towns and visiting.”
One thing is for sure: Musumici came back to Hudson County as a different basketball player.
“It boosted my confidence,” Musumici said. “That’s what I’m happiest about. I hope that the [Hoboken High] coach [Shawn Kolmer] will see me play and give me the chance to play varsity.”
It won’t be easy for a sophomore to crack the Redwings’ lineup, but Kolmer’s program did suffer a number of losses after graduation in June, so maybe the door is open for Musumici to walk in and take a spot on the varsity.
“I believe I can play with the varsity kids,” Musumici said.
See what a trip to Austria can do?
Musumici was not going to rest on his laurels or his injured knee, which has since healed.
He’s headed to East Stroudsburg University’s overnight camp next week to continue to develop his game.
But nothing will ever replace the chance to get a gold medal overseas, playing with USA on his chest.
“It was probably the best trip of my life,” Musumici said. “It’s probably the best summer I will ever have. I’ll never forget it.”
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com. You can also read Jim’s blog at www.jimhaguesports.blogspot.com. This week, Jim takes on the United States women’s team’s behavior at the recent World Cup. You can also follow Jim on Twitter @ogsmar.