As I walked into Coach Patricia Hemsley-Cartotto’s office to talk to her about the upcoming girls’ varsity basketball season, I immediately felt a good vibe. Senior captain Michelle Petronaci was walking out of the office with Hemsley, laughing, and Hemsley was laughing right along with her.
Coach Hemsley-Cartotto, who goes by “Hems” and will never be called by her full last name except over the PA system, clearly has what every coach wants: a talented, experienced team and a great connection with her players.
Hemsley, who is in her thirteenth year coaching at VHS, is confident going into the new season. The team is looking strong, according to Hemsley, who is hoping for big things from the whole team but especially her seniors: Petronaci, Gianna Pignetello and Erin Percevault, who have a “good depth of experience.”
But three people cannot do it all. Hemsley is also looking to her underclassmen to be big contributors. DonnaJo DiNorcia, Amanda Langan, Julieanne Mascera and Kara Bartow, Hemsley claims, have demonstrated some “good young talent” and will also be big assets to the team in the upcoming season.
Hemsley, like many coaches in Verona, is excited about Verona’s departure from the Colonial Hills Conference and entrance into the Super Essex Conference, which will eliminate some of the stronger teams in the area from the schedule; teams like University, for example, which is always a “powerhouse.”
Things are looking good for the Verona girls’ basketball team as their season kicks off this evening at home at 5:00 against Marylawn. “They’re a great group,” said Hemsley. “I really enjoy working with them and that’s more than half the battle.”