COVID-19 High School Sports Spotlight: Steinert Spartans Looked to Build on Successful Teams in the Past

player from Steinert High School Spartan baseball

By Keith Noonan

The Steinert Spartans were hoping to be taking the field this time of the year and hopefully continue their success they have had in recent years. Head coach Brian Giallella was looking forward to getting his team on the field. “Going into tryouts, I believed we could have a good team based on the work ethic and dedication I saw in the off season in the weight room. But after seeing them on the field in tryouts and for the few days we had practice prior to March 13th, I thought we could be a really good team,” Giallella said.

Coming off of a 14-10 season, they were a very solid team in the area. Steinert only lost by two to Notre Dame twice, even though Notre Dame went undefeated. They also played tough with Hamilton West, who were almost as good. With those expectations, Spartan fans had to be excited for what was to come of this team, especially for the 12 seniors they were set to have on the roster. Coach Giallella felt bad for all the players, but especially the seniors, after Governor Phil Murphy officially closed the schools earlier this month. “I immediately felt sorry for all of our players in the program, but I couldn’t help but feel especially sorry for the 12 seniors. Myself and the coaches met with the seniors on Google Meet (video conference) and just told them how sorry we were that we never had the chance to have a season. We thanked them for what they did for us and the program over the last 4 years. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do in coaching,” Giallella said.

Leading the way last year, senior shortstop CJ Pittaro who is going to Vanderbilt in the Fall. Pittaro was a great hitter and a solid shortstop. Pittaro also had a solid group of other seniors and play makers around him on the diamond. Among them, Matt Sangillo, who played a crucial role for the Spartans last year, and would return for them. They also had other pieces such as outfielders Tyler Nielsen and Jack Hardiman in the lineup. As for on the mound, right-handed pitcher Anthony Wilk was in the mix for a spot. Other pitchers were right handers Ryan Stromberg, Thomas Gater, and Vinny Maglione. As for the Southpaws, Matt Lambert and Jake Wiegartner were also slated to take the mound. The Spartans had outfield depth because of outfielder Mason Walczak who started plenty in the outfield last season, and Tom Cramer was going to have a chance to really contribute.

I immediately felt sorry for all of our players in the program, but I couldn’t help but feel especially sorry for the 12 seniors. Coach Giallella

It would have been exciting to see that team take the field. Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic closed the schools effectively ending the season. Coach Giallella said he is just trying to do what he can during this tough time.
“We are trying to keep busy. Go out and take walks, ride bikes, play basketball, have a catch, but that is the silver lining in this pandemic, we have had much more contact with our immediate family and for that I am thankful since this would have been the busy time of the year for me. As for the players, we are posting daily workouts on our Google Classroom with not only physical training but skills they can work on alone to prepare for some sort of summer practices or games if we are allowed to even do that. I guess we have to hold out hope that may be possible,” Giallella said. ‘