Sports Person of the Week
Wallack’s Glad to be Back on the Pitch
Senior Jason Wallack wants nothing more than to help the Hand boys’ soccer squad continue its run of dominance this fall. Last year, Jason earned a host of accolades while helping the Tigers win their fourth-straight state title. (Photo courtesy of Jason Wallack )
Jason Wallack is trying to stay optimistic about the prospects of helping the Hand boys’ soccer team have another great campaign this fall. As the sports landscape shifts as a result of COVID-19, Jason and the Tigers are hoping that they get the opportunity to do what they do best: be dominant.
A senior right wing, Jason has contributed to three-straight state titles during his tenure with the Tigers, including the program’s fourth in a row last fall. Jason had 13 goals with seven assists on his way to making the All-SCC First Team, the All-SCC Second Team, and the New Haven Register’s All-Area Team as a junior. With his senior season approaching, Jason remains one of Hand’s key cogs in its quest to once again be one of the state’s top squads.
“I didn’t expect something like this to happen. Going into my senior season, I was thinking school was going to be normal,” Jason says. “I hope people stay safe, wear masks, and do everything we can to be successful for the year.”
The Tigers held their first official practice of the year on Aug. 29. From a team perspective, Jason’s focus is for Hand to build on the success of last year, even if the shortened season looks much different. He also wants to repeat one of the individual accolades that he earned in 2019.
“Probably just making it to the All-State First Team,” says Jason. “That’s my main individual goal—some of the stuff I’ve already got.”
Hand Coach Greg Cumpstone describes Jason as a “really tricky” player who excels at dribbling in space to put pressure on the opposing defense. Even with a 12-game schedule, Cumpstone believes that Jason can exceed his scoring output from last year. The coach is also looking for Jason to step up as a senior leader.
“I want to see even more of a leadership role this year. Jason has led by example a lot in recent years, so I’d like to see him be a little more verbal leadership,” Cumpstone says. “But his confidence is only growing. He can be even better, despite this shortened season this year.”
Jason and the Tigers won’t just be battling their familiar SCC rivals in 2020, but also the invisible enemy in COVID-19. Jason already lost his spring season with his AAU soccer team, putting a crimp in his college recruiting process. Jason knows that everyone on Hand’s roster has to do whatever it takes to make sure the season is played out safely.
“I’m not too worried. If they feel comfortable enough to send us to school with 500 to 1,000 kids, if they’re allowing us to do that, sports should be allowed to play,” says Jason. “Sports are good for physical and mental health. If my senior season gets canceled, it prevents more colleges from noticing me, allows me to play less games.”
Jason says that Hand is going above and beyond the standard protocols. There is going to be a lot on the line during the upcoming season, both individually for Jason and collectively for the Tigers.
“We are definitely doing a lot more than most teams,” Jason says. “Everyone is required to wear masks coming in and when they’re leaving. We are sterilizing soccer balls and, personally, I’m trying not to hang out with people outside the team as much. I just want to make sure I don’t get it, and everyone here is doing their part. If one person gets it, that could lead to the end of the season.”
Competing at the next level is part of Jason’s college plans. Jason wants to play soccer at a Division I college and has already received interest from several DI schools.
Jason also plays AAU soccer year-round for the Connecticut Rush. Jason wasn’t able to suit up for the Rush through the past few months because of the pandemic. However, that just makes Jason’s return to the pitch with the Tigers all the more special.
“That boosted my fire to play since I hadn’t played many games for five to six months,” says Jason. “I definitely missed my teammates, getting that ball in space, creating, and making stuff happen.”