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West Shamokin's Rocco has minimal downtime

| Friday, July 13, 2012, 12:41 a.m.
West Shamokin incoming senior Anthony Rocco pitches for the Worthington-Kittanning Palomino baseball team during a game earlier this summer. He has also played in West Shamokin's summer league basketball games and attended the school's weekly golf practices.

A seven-day stay in South Carolina, set to begin this weekend, might provide West Shamokin incoming senior Anthony Rocco his longest reprieve from sports of the year.

The idea of sitting around and taking it easy during the summer months is an unfamiliar one to Rocco, a three-sport athlete for the Wolves whose sports schedule fails to slow when the school year ends.

“I can't remember the last day I had off,” Rocco said. “The only free time I have is like around 12 at night, and that's if I'm not tired by then.”

Rocco doesn't actually operate at a 24-hour-a-day pace, but his schedule is undeniably crowded. During the last few weeks, it included Worthington-Kittanning Palomino baseball games on Mondays, Wednesdays and weekends; West Shamokin summer league basketball games on Tuesday and Thursday nights, as well as scattered team camps and one-day tournaments; AAU basketball shoot-arounds on Wednesday mornings; and West Shamokin golf practices on Tuesday mornings. He also dabbles in Rural Valley men's softball.

“He's getting some catfishing in, too,” Worthington-Kittanning coach Terry Steffy chuckled. “So when he's not doing the other stuff, he's not exactly sleeping.”

“He's got about as much on his plate as anybody I've ever had,” West Shamokin basketball coach Mike Nagy said. “And he handles it about as well as you can imagine. I don't see any signs of burnout.”

About the only time Rocco gripes about his hectic sports life — one that hasn't changed much since he started high school — is when he deals with long car rides, he said. He finds it difficult to complain about getting to play a sport almost every day.

Rocco plans to play for the Palomino team in the Quad County North sectional tournament just hours before his family heads out of town Friday evening. Yet he still feels a tinge of guilt about leaving for a family vacation — one planned months ago — just as Worthington-Kittanning's postseason begins.

“It kind of makes me sick to my stomach,” Rocco said. “I don't like to not be there for my team. But I really need a vacation.”

These weeks are Rocco's final few opportunities to relax before his senior year, one in which he'll be the No. 1 golfer, the top returning scorer (18.5 points per game) in basketball, the best returning batter (.414 average) in baseball and a standout student with a 4.3 GPA.

Oh, and he'll figure out which college to attend and which sport to play.

Rocco said he's received the most serious interest in baseball from Grove City and Bethany. Penn State Behrend's basketball team asked him to send a highlight tape. No golf program has contacted him, but Rocco is confident his scores would earn a spot at many small-college teams.

So what destination — or sport — does Rocco have on his mind? That's not a question he's ready to answer in the middle of summer.

“I have no idea,” he said. “When it's baseball season, that's my favorite sport. When it's basketball season, that's my favorite. And when I'm golfing well, that's my favorite. … Whatever can help me out the most in school is probably what I'll go with. That's what matters most.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-543-1321.

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