Is it possible that something good and positive could come from the COVID-19 pandemic?
Well, there is a trio of Secaucus High School student/athletes who are living proof that something good could come from the coronavirus.
John Young, Daniela Peschetti and Nicole Parise have all made the most of the bad situation and are making a little bit of history in the process.
Since the NJSIAA established different seasons for sports during the pandemic and moved the girls’ volleyball and boys’ and girls’ wrestling campaigns to this new hybrid season that fell in between the last day of the winter season and the first day of the spring season, the Secaucus trio decided to take advantage and joined a sport for the first time that competed from early March through last week.
And with that, Young, Peschetti and Parise have become the first-ever Secaucus athletes to earn varsity letters in FOUR sports.
In prior years, the NJSIAA limited student/athletes to compete in just three sports. But since this was such a unique year and the schedules moved around and all, the state’s governing body allowed athletes to participate in four sports this year.
Young, a junior, was always a football player in the fall, a basketball player in the winter and a baseball player in the spring. Sounds simple enough.
But this year, for the first time, Young tried his hand at wrestling.
“My initial thought was whether it was possible,” Young said. “I really never wrestled before. I think I went to one practice when I was seven years old. For me, it was just something to do to stay in shape. I really had nothing to do, so I thought, ‘Why not play another sport?’”
Young had no idea of the historical importance of his joining the wrestling team.
“It was a crazy experience to play four sports,” Young said. “As for wrestling, to be honest, I loved it.”
Young competed and actually won two matches, even though he didn’t know a single solitary move.
“I basically went out there like a football player and tried to tackle the other guy,” Young said. “It worked the one time, because I got a pin with like 1.3 seconds left. I was actually losing, 7-3, but I came back and got the pin.”
Young was determined to compete in both wrestling and baseball at the same time, especially since the seasons overlapped by a couple of weeks.
“I was going to wrestle until it ended, then concentrate on baseball,” Young said.
Next year, Young will not get the chance to compete in basketball and wrestling at the same time, so he will choose basketball.
“But I had so much fun wrestling,” Young said. “All the other guys knew moves to use. I didn’t know any moves. But it was a pretty surreal feeling. It’s not something I would ever have thought I would do. Part of the reason why I came to Secaucus was that I wanted to compete in three sports. It’s unreal to think I played four.”
Peschetti, a sophomore, is one of the school’s top three-sport athletes, competing in soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball in the spring.
But this year, with the pandemic changing things around, Peschetti gave volleyball a try.
“I played a little bit in eighth grade, but that was for fun,” Peschetti said. “I knew that I couldn’t play soccer and volleyball at the same time, so I never gave it a thought.”
Peschetti is an excellent soccer player with a bright future. Peschetti is also a very good basketball player Her older sister Julia traveled a similar path and elected to play soccer at Iona College after graduating from Secaucus. Julia Peschetti is well on her way to becoming a lawyer, having just completed her first year of law school.
As it turned out, Peschetti became an outside hitter on the volleyball team.
“It really was a lot of fun,” Peschetti said. “It was definitely crazy going from one to the other. My coaches kept encouraging me.”
It helped a little that the Secaucus softball coach is also the head volleyball coach, namely Cory Roesing, who was the Hudson Reporter Female Athlete of the Year in 2007 when she played three sports at the school.
“Since it was the same coach, it was a lot easier,” Peschetti said.
And since Peschetti was set to play volleyball, then it was easy for her to convince her best friend Parise to do the same.
Parise plays soccer in the fall, plays basketball in the winter and runs track in the spring, competing in the 800-meter dash and the 400-meter hurdles.
But volleyball is in Parise’s bloodline, considering that her mother, the former Amy Komorowski, was a standout volleyball player at Secaucus High during the glory days in the late 1980s-early 1990s who went on to play at St. Peter’s College, now St. Peter’s University. And her twin brother Joseph plays volleyball at St. Peter’s Prep.
So basically Parise had more of a volleyball background than her buddy Peschetti.
“Playing sports just came naturally for me,” Parise said. “I don’t think of it as being special. It’s what I do.”
“We’re really good friends,” Peschetti said of Parise. “We’re like the same person.”
Parise said that she had some anxious moments going to volleyball tryouts.
“I didn’t know if the coaches would take me,” Parise said. “I thought they might not take me because they knew I wasn’t coming back. Soccer is my favorite sport.”
Unlike Peschetti, who is a goal-scoring machine in soccer, Parise is a fine defender.
“I think soccer will always be my favorite sport,” Parise said. “I know some kids play three sports. I didn’t know no one did four.”
Not until now. Secaucus never had one and they now have three who did four. Got that?
It’s pretty remarkable to say the least.
“I have to say it’s the only positive thing to come out of the pandemic,” Peschetti said. “It’s the first time ever? Well, that makes it even crazier. I never imagined it could happen. I wish they would keep the seasons like this forever, so I can play four sports.”
Not likely, so that’s why it’s historic to say the least. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com