Nick Napoli, a co-captain of the Verona High School boys soccer team and member of the boys basketball team, was honored on Thursday, May 28, as a recipient of the Investors Bank Best Teammate Award for 2020. Recipients are selected by their respective athletic departments, and exemplify the strength of character, sportsmanship and supportive spirit that, though often unheralded, are vital to a team’s success. The ceremony honoring Napoli and the 33 other athletes from the Super Essex Conference was held virtually from the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center.
“So much has been cancelled this season,” said Eve Schaenen, the museum’s executive director, in her welcome remarks to the students on the zoom. “Winter seasons were cut short. Many of you who are spring athletes didn’t have the opportunity to play at all. And yet, your athletic directors still chose you as Best Teammate. What that says so clearly, this year more than ever, is that the qualities of a great teammate are identifiable in you… because of who you are as people, as much as who you are as athletes.”
The winning students, together with their parents, grandparents, coaches and athletic directors, had the opportunity to hear from special guest Kevin Cummings, chairman and CEO of Investors Bank, the long-time sponsor of the event. In congratulating the recipients, Cummings stated: “You make other teammates better because you have those intangible assets that help people to be the best versions of themselves.” Participants also heard from Larry Berra, Yogi Berra’s eldest son, who illustrated the value of teamwork using his Hall of Fame father’s sport: “They always say when you play baseball, you can be the MVP of a team, you can be the greatest player, but the greatest player on the team has to realize, if you’re a shortstop, you need a first baseman who can catch the ball.”
Photo copyright Kathleen Seubert. Used by permission.