Athlete Spotlight: Wahconah's Maria Gamberoni
Before leading her team to a Hoophall Classic win over Longmeadow on Friday, Wahconah point guard Maria Gamberoni stopped by The Eagle offices for a photo shoot and interview. Gamberoni, who is in her third year with the Warriors, opened up about why she likes running point, what life is like under coach Liz Kay, her affinity for sleep, and plenty more.
THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE: So, we're in the middle of basketball season now. Start first; when did you first pick up a ball?
MARIA GAMBERONI: I started playing in pre-school, then eventually 3rd or 4th grade travel started. But I think pre-school, between pre-school and kindergarten, is when I first started touching a basketball.
EAGLE: What drew you to the sport?
GAMBERONI: I like the intensity of it, I like the fast-paced game, I like playing as a team. If you mess up, then you can make up for your mistake seconds later.
EAGLE: Is it your favorite sport?
GAMBERONI: Yes, definitely.
EAGLE: What else do you play?
GAMBERONI: I play soccer. I play AAU basketball in the spring, but other than that I just play soccer.
EAGLE: Soccer, as another sport, what do you like about it?
GAMBERONI: I like the contact of soccer. There isn't as much contact in basketball, obviously. There's more leeway in soccer, contact wise.
EAGLE: Back to basketball; what's your favorite position to play?
GAMBERONI: Point guard, definitely.
EAGLE: A point guard has massive responsibilities that come with it; what about that do you like?
GAMBERONI: I like being in control, setting up plays, just being in control of the ball most of the time.
EAGLE: Point guards can both score and pass; which one do you prefer?
GAMBERONI: I like setting up a teammate better, I feel like.
EAGLE: Describe to me the perfect play
GAMBERONI: The perfect play? Let me think. I feel like, if work really hard on defense to get a stop, then a 3-pointer on the other end just caps it all off. I feel like that would be a perfect play.
EAGLE: In your career at Wahconah, you've had a couple of signature wins. I always think back to that one against Hoosac Valley in the [Western Mass. Division III] tournament a few years back; now that there's been some time between it, do you ever think about what you girls did that night in Cheshire?
GAMBERONI: I feel like in the moment, I don't really remember a lot of it because it was so exciting. But I think our team came together in a way we didn't before, to pull off that win.
EAGLE: Now, this year, you girls are off to a pretty good start; what do you like about this roster and the way this team is set up?
GAMBERONI: We have two freshmen, a couple of sophomores, so we have young talent. I think this team really bonds, we play well together, and we lost four seniors last year, and they had a lot of leadership roles, so I think we are working on getting new leaders this year. Other than that, I think our team is really coming together.
EAGLE: You and Noelle Furlong have kind of been like a packaged pair on this basketball team the last couple of years; what's your relationship like with her and what is it like playing with her?
GAMBERONI: Noelle, outside of basketball and in basketball, she's one of my best friends. We've played since we were [kids] together. We just kind of know where we are on the court, and if she's going to make a backdoor cut, I know she's going to do that. We just work well together, because we've been playing for so long.
EAGLE: What's it like having Coach [Liz] Kay as your coach?
GAMBERONI: Well, freshman year I was terrified of her. Completely terrified. But after freshman year, sophomore year I was still a little nervous around her, but now I love her. She's one of my friends. I can talk to her personally about stuff outside of basketball, and she's a good motivator on the court, for sure.
EAGLE: What are your favorite activities that you do at practice at the end to do some team bonding, some team building stuff?
GAMBERONI: Before practice starts, we have trivia. She asks a question, then we have two teams that go on for the whole year. That's one thing we do. Then we have special practices, like Christmas practices or dress-up practices that we do sometimes. We have some drills we do that are fun. One is called animal. There are three teams, and there are no fouls. So everyone just attacks each other. That's our team's favorite drill.
EAGLE: What are the goals for the rest of the basketball season?
GAMBERONI: We don't like to look too far ahead in the season, we just like to focus one game at a time.
EAGLE: Off the basketball court a little bit; what do you do to unwind?
GAMBERONI: Well, my favorite thing to do is sleep. So I usually go to school, come home, go to practice, come home, do homework then go to bed as early as possible. On the weekends, I try to spend as much time with my friends as I can.
EAGLE: At school, what are some of your favorite classes?
GAMBERONI: I think my favorite class is math, for sure. I'm not very good at writing, so I don't prefer English.
EAGLE: Lunch menu comes out for the month; what's the one thing you are circling on it?
GAMBERONI: Well, I don't usually bring this to school, but I like pasta, for sure.
EAGLE: What's the go-to pasta dish?
GAMBERONI: Shrimp scampi. My dad makes the best shrimp scampi.
EAGLE: Talk to me a little bit about AAU ball; what are some of the big differences between playing AAU and playing for Wahconah?
GAMBERONI: AAU, we usually have two practices a week. The games are a lot faster, usually on smaller courts so things are more pushed together. I feel like there are a lot less calls made in the game, foul-wise, and it's a lot of traveling across the country.
EAGLE: Who do you play for?
GAMBERONI: Mass Frenzy.
EAGLE: What is it like on Mass Frenzy? From what I've seen, the talent pool pulls from a wide area; what's it like playing with such a wide group of girls?
GAMBERONI: I love it. It's definitely a challenge. When you get to practices, you have a lot more competition to push you to be the best you can be. I think it really helps improve your game.
EAGLE: On the college front; where are you in your search? And does basketball play into it?
GAMBERONI: I am interested in playing basketball for college. I think this spring for AAU will be important. I will see if anyone is interested. But I also want to focus on the academic side of it. I'm not going to base my decision on anything other than what I want to do, which is business.
EAGLE: Finally, an open-ended question for you; [Wahconah principal Aaron Robb] decides to give you all of his powers for a day — what would you do in your one day as Wahconah principal?
GAMBERONI: Call a snow day. And then go home and sleep.
This interview was conducted, edited and condensed by Geoff Smith.
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