PELHAM, N.Y. – Pelham Memorial High School girls basketball star Vittoria Volpe is The Pelham Daily Voice Athlete of the Month for February.
The senior led the No. 15 Pelicans to two shocking upsets over No. 2 Sleepy Hollow High School and No. 7 Nanuet High School in the Section 1 Class A tournament and Pelham earned a spot in the semifinals at the Westchester County Center.
Head coach Timothy Pitrulle said Volpe, a three-year captain, was the catalyst for Pelham’s incredible postseason run.
“She’s the main one that’s led us on the charge because she’s the lone senior that plays a lot,” Pitrulle said. “When the game is coming down to the nitty-gritty, she’s the one that we want the ball in her hands at the end of the game. She’s the one that we look for.”
The Pelicans trailed Nanuet by nine at halftime and won by four points in overtime. When Pitrulle entered the locker room at the break, he saw Volpe encouraging her teammates that they still had a chance to win.
“Before I even get in the locker room, she’s already got the kids sitting down and talking to them,” Pitrulle said.
But the instinct to take charge comes naturally to Volpe.
“I always talk to the girls before the game. We get in a huddle after our free throws and I say a speech,” Volpe said. “When we got in the locker room (against Nanuet), everyone was quiet. I wasn’t ready for the season to end so I tried to pick everyone back up.”
The coach said Volpe is always the “first one in the gym, last one out” and that she has mentored the younger players, particularly the three freshmen who play for a significant number of minutes.
“They see her in practice and they see how to do things,” Pitrulle said. “She doesn’t take plays off.”
That’s a reputation that Volpe has developed during the past several years, both at Pelham and on AAU teams, and her younger teammates want to emulate her.
“I just love the game so much that I’m always in the gym. My AAU coaches call me a gym rat,” Volpe said. “I think it’s the way I was brought up. I like the leadership role. I think I really took it on fully knowing now that I’m a senior captain.”
Regardless of what happened at the County Center, Volpe said she would look back fondly on her time at Pelham.
“I will remember it forever. It was definitely a life-changing experience,” Volpe said. “Pitrulle as a coach has become like a second father to me. I grew as a player, a person and probably as a leader, too.”
The Student-Athlete of the Month is chosen by the sports reporters and editors of The Daily Voice.