Sports Person of the Week
Sparaco Worked Hard to Get Back into Action
Dylan Sparaco fought hard throughout the spring and summer to make his way back from a broken leg. Now, Dylan is leading the Valley Regional boys’ basketball team as one of its senior captains this winter. (Photo courtesy of Dylan Sparaco )
Dylan Sparaco serves as a great example of how perseverance can help overcome difficult circumstances. Dylan plays an important role as a knock-down shooter for the Valley Regional boys’ basketball team and is proving himself as a big weapon the Warriors’ offensive arsenal this year. Dylan, a senior, spent a lot of time sidelined from sports after suffering a broken leg, but he’s put in countless hours to work his way back into form.
Dylan’s battle back from his injury was a long and difficult one. Dylan, who also plays baseball and soccer at Valley Regional, had to miss his junior season on the baseball diamond. Dylan considers it a huge success that he was even able to make it back onto the soccer field last fall.
“This past spring, I broke my leg in an AAU tournament. Coming back from that was the most challenging thing I had to do. I couldn’t walk for eight weeks,” Dylan says. “The experience coming back from that and trying to get back into soccer this year was tough. There are times before that injury and rehab that feel important, but coming back from that was a defining moment for me.”
Even though Dylan had his sights set on returning during the soccer season, he was focused on basketball throughout much of the summer and fall. Unable to compete due to his injury, Dylan was still a huge presence as a coach at Valley’s summer and fall leagues. That effort earned Dylan a captain’s role for the Warriors this season.
“During the summer, I was named one of the captains for basketball because I was working so hard in the gym every day,” says Dylan. “I was coaching summer and fall league, and it definitely helped me a lot in vocalizing for myself and communicating with the team.”
It’s been a great experience for Dylan to lead Valley as a senior captain. Receiving that honor has bolstered Dylan’s confidence—an all-important attribute for a shooter.
“This is my first captainship besides being a captain for soccer in 8th grade. Over the summer at the Slamma Jamma camp, I was named captain in the ending ceremony,” Dylan says. “Last year, I was more of a role player off the bench and went in as a shooter. Now, being a captain makes me feel more valued as a player, but also to be able to speak with the team and tell them what I think. It makes me more confident when I play.”
Dylan and the Warriors are having a great run so far this year. Valley is currently riding a 10-game winning streak and has an overall record of 11-3 on the campaign. Last winter, the Warriors had a successful season that saw the team go 18-7, while reaching the semifinals of the Shoreline Conference and Division V State tournaments. Dylan credits much of this year’s success to the groundwork that was established by the previous season’s squad.
“Last year, we had three captains, and Kevin Fasulo was the most vocal I would say,” says Dylan, who lives in Ivoryton. “Kevin’s way of coming to the gym everyday rubbed off on us. It gave us more focus as a team. Last week, we didn’t play well against Portland, and that motivated us to get focused, back into the gym, and work hard.”
Dylan’s role in the offense on last year’s team was primarily as a spot-up shooter. This season, Dylan is trying to diversify his attack and become more of a well-rounded player.
“The main focus of my game is shooting. I would say earlier in the season and, definitely last year, I was strictly a perimeter player. As the season has gone on and I’ve gotten more comfortable, now I try to penetrate and kick the ball out more,” says Dylan. “I was kind of a one-way player, but this year, I’ve learned to be more focused on defense and make a bigger impact that way.”
Head Coach Kevin Woods felt that it was a no-brainer for Dylan to be named a captain after working so hard during the summer. Woods was happy to see Dylan keep showing up at the court.
“Dylan became a captain because of his commitment to the team when he couldn’t play. He went to every open workout. When he couldn’t play, he was coaching teams, and it meant so much to him to help out. A high school kid coaching a team just shows how much he knows. It was an easy choice to make him a captain,” Woods says. “Dylan really worked on his shot while he could barely move. He’s hit some really big shots for us. He’s not always scoring a lot of points, but he hits big shots. He has a big role as a role player.”
Dylan hopes the Warriors can take the next step and become champions this year. Dylan remembers watching the heyday of Valley basketball alongside his twin brother Chris, who’s also a senior captain for the Warriors. Dylan has had a goal of helping Valley get back to the top for a long time.
“Watching the Valley teams when I was like eight to 10, they were my role models. Jon Luster was my role model growing up. The culture of basketball here is great. Coach Woods puts a lot of time in, and he’s hungry as much as we are to win,” says Dylan. “We’ve had this goal since we were in 5th grade, that we want to be a championship team. As a group, the expectation for us are to win a Shoreline championship and a state championship.”