New Coach, New Year for WHS Boys Basketball
The Winthrop High boys basketball team, under the direction of new head coach Mike Triant, began its practice sessions for the 2021 season last week.
“Things have been going great. We had a great first week,” said Triant. “They are a great group of kids and they have been really getting after it.”
The 2021 edition of the Vikings will be led by returning senior captain Cam Conway and junior Chris Cappuccio, who was selected as a captain this week.
“They will be our two captains this year,” said Triant. “We’ve had great leadership throughout the first week by all of the upperclassmen.”
The challenges facing a first-year head coach are difficult enough, but the complications facing Triant because of the COVID-19 restrictions will make his first season at the helm of the WHS boys’ program immeasurably more difficult.
“To say this has been a different year would be an understatement,” said Triant. “It certainly has not been the way I envisioned the first eight months on the job. We obviously were not able to spend time together or get guys together in the off-season to work out and develop a rapport with one another.
“All that being said, we are focused on staying safe and having a great season,” Triant continued. “The coaches and players are thrilled to be together and to be making the commitment that we are making to one another. That is really what it is all about — it is about the guys in the gym and what we all want to put into the season and into the development of the program.
“I know the staff we have is committed and I think we have a great group of young men who understand the commitment,” added the coach. “Moving forward, that commitment to one another will be a tremendous asset toward accomplishing our goals. We will all be committed to one another and to the improvement of Winthrop basketball.
“I’ve been telling the team that the work you put in now will be seen years down the road and you will know that you helped reestablish Winthrop basketball where it needs to be,” Triant added.
Despite the obstacles of the pandemic, Triant and his crew are happy to be playing ball and thankful to school officials for the opportunity to compete in 2021.
“I am grateful for all of the hard work the town and the school administrators have put in to enable us to get back on the floor,” said Triant. “I am elated for our student-athletes and look forward to working with the school department and the school administrators to enable them to compete in a safe environment. Sports are such an amazing outlet for kids. They need this now more than ever before. A basketball season is a great first step toward a return to normalcy in their lives.
“In terms of the season and the COVID rules, we will do whatever needs to be done to keep us safe and we are looking forward to competing against all of our opponents whenever and wherever that will be,” Triant added.
Although a schedule has yet to be completed, Athletic Director Matt Serino said there will be no games prior to January 8.
WHS GIRLS HOCKEY GETS BACK ON THE ICE
The Winthrop High girls hockey team opened practice sessions this past week as the Lady Vikings look forward to competing in a 2021 season that will get underway on Saturday, January 9, when they will host Northeastern Hockey League rival Medford/Malden. The shortened season will consist of 11 games and end on February 20.
“We are just glad to be playing,” said WHS head coach Anthony Martucci, who has been at the helm of the girls’ program, one of the most successful at Winthrop High, since 2009. “The girls are just so ecstatic to have something positive going that they do not even mind doing skating drills.”
With all of the new rules imposed by the MIAA because of COVID 19 safety protocols, Martucci acknowledged that this will be a season unlike any other.
“The modifications are a little hard to navigate, but the girls are doing fine with them,” Martucci said. “Masks are worn at all times, they have to check in with a COVID coach (Sean Carleton, who is doing an incredible job), and sit in assigned seats that are placed outside the boards of the arena instead of a locker room. It’s just a few adjustments made for safety purposes, but the girls are following all the rules.”
The 2021 edition of the Lady Viking skaters presently are led by a pair of junior captains, goalie Summer Tallent and forward Mia Martucci.
“Both Summer and Mia held the role of assistant captains last year, so when Olivia Driscoll and Sydney Mignosa graduated, it was a simple promotion for the two of them to captains. We are not ruling out adding a couple of assistants, and we have plenty of great candidates if we do decide to make that move,” Martucci said.
Despite the late start to the pre-season (the winter sports season typically gets underway on the Monday after Thanksgiving), Martucci likes what he has seen thus far from his squad.
“Right now, after three practices and an intrasquad scrimmage, I am very impressed with the entire team,” said the coach. “However, a few players have really stuck out. Mia Norris has looked terrific thus far. Elle English is going to be an elite player for us, and of course the Holmes triplets are absolute beasts.
“I am also very happy with the way that our only two seniors are leading by example every time we take the ice,” Martucci continued. “Taya Schlicting and Jenna Lindinger have worked their hearts out. We also have a bunch of talent in the sophomore and freshman classes. Fallon Hurley, Casey Petersen, Adrianna Rizzotto, Hannah Parker, Lily Tallent, and Sami DiMento are all returning players from last year, and all of them have a ton of talent.
“We also have a very exciting group of eighth graders who will make their high school debut this season,” Martucci continued. “Amelia Spencer of Lynn actually played on the team last year as she is the only remaining player left from Lynn, and she will be the last one as well. Other eighth graders to watch are Izi Hain, Gabby Buonapane, and Talia Martucci, who will play as a forward, but also serve as the team’s back-up goalie.”
The Lady Vikings are dedicating their season to their late former assistant coach, Kevin McKinnon, who passed away in June at the age of 57.
“Kevin was with us from 2009 until 2016,” said Martucci. “Kevin was so much more to me than just an assistant coach. He was a friend and someone whom I learned a lot from. He was a father figure to all of the girls who came through the program while he was coaching with us. His daughter Caroline was one of only five players to score over 100 career points. With coach Kev we won four conference championships and came within a game of making it to the TD Garden in 2011 when we lost in a shootout to eventual state champion Hingham. Kevin was a huge part of the building of our program and he will be forever missed by all of us.”