Friday, May 07, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

Sellitto Finishes Soccer Career with All-Conference Honors

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Senior Andrew Sellitto served as a captain of the North Branford boys’ soccer squad for the past three seasons. In his final season, Andrew earned All-Shoreline Conference Second Team honors on behalf of the Thunderbirds. Photo courtesy of Andrew Sellitto

Senior Andrew Sellitto served as a captain of the North Branford boys’ soccer squad for the past three seasons. In his final season, Andrew earned All-Shoreline Conference Second Team honors on behalf of the Thunderbirds. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Sellitto )

Andrew Sellitto grew up learning how to play soccer alongside his older brother Anthony. When he reached North Branford High School, Andrew started carving his own niche in the sport, earning the title of captain as a sophomore and then garnering All-Shoreline Conference recognition in his senior season.

Andrew started playing soccer at weekend youth clinics in North Branford. During that time, Andrew would practice with his brother in the backyard and then watch him play on gameday. The time that Andrew and Anthony spent together around soccer helped them grow as players, while strengthening their connection as brothers.

“I have very distinct memories of my brother playing, from us playing together in the backyard to me watching him from the sidelines when I was too young to be playing with him in a game,” Andrew says. “Going from the sidelines to being on his team and playing with him was an experience we both valued quite a bit. It was something that brought us together.”

Andrew continued playing in the North Branford recreational league until 7th grade. At that point, the town didn’t have enough players to field a team, and so Andrew had to find a new team. Andrew wound up playing in Guilford’s rec league before joining the town’s travel program. It was a little awkward for Andrew at first since he didn’t know anyone, but playing soccer in Guilford allowed Andrew to sharpen his skills and make new friends.

As he was approaching the high school level, Andrew began reaching out to the various members of the North Branford boys’ soccer team. Andrew had played with a few of them during his time in the rec league and wanted to make sure he was an active member of the Thunderbirds’ program from the start. He started conditioning with the team even before meeting the coaches.

Andrew, a midfielder, started every varsity game in his freshman season at North Branford. The transition to the high school level was different than anything Andrew had ever faced, but he felt proud to earn a starting spot as a freshman, and appreciated every time he saw his name in the lineup.

“I had been playing a lot of soccer my entire life, but transitioning into high school was something that was kind of different,” Andrew says. “High school soccer is a lot more aggressive and a lot more physical. Being a tiny freshman starting varsity was eye-opening. There would be a grown man with a beard pushing me to the ground.”

Prior to Andrew’s sophomore season, the T-Birds took a vote to decide who would be their captains for the year. Andrew wanted to lead the team and was elected as a captain—a role that he would hold throughout the rest of his time at North Branford.

In the 2020 season, Andrew served as a captain with fellow seniors Jeremy Bunnell and Shelden Wessoleck. Andrew saw his role as a captain constantly evolve throughout the past three years.

“Being a captain has enabled me to do very soccer-related things, such as teaching kids how to do ball work before and after practices, but it has transitioned to me being a very close friend to everyone on the team,” Andrew says. “I was someone people could turn to if they were having problems in school or really anything. It was more important than being just a good soccer player. It was about being an ally and being valuable to other people’s lives.”

Following his senior season, Andrew was presented with a big honor when he received All-Shoreline Conference Second Team accolades. Although North Branford was unable to get a win, Andrew feels that going All-Conference shows how the program is on the right track.

“I felt like it was a good wrapup to my time with the Thunderbirds. It was a great way for me to end everything,” says Andrew. “I’m very proud of it, but it wasn’t about being the best player and getting all these wins, because we didn’t have that. But the experience that I had and the team had was what helped me be a successful player and helped me accomplish what I did.”

Dewey Boatman became North Branford’s head coach prior to Andrew’s sophomore season. Since then, Boatman has seen Andrew make great strides as both an athlete and a leader.

“He has been an absolute pleasure. He has been one of the most important players in our program during my entire coaching tenure,” Boatman says of Andrew. “He’s one of the hardest-working players. He sees the big picture. He always knows what the next play is going to be. As a coach, you couldn’t ask more from a player.”

Andrew is looking to pursue a degree that allows him to be outdoors when he attends college. Andrew was recently accepted to Montana State University, where he is considering majoring in snow science. As for soccer, Andrew is hoping to play at either the club or intramural level, because he doesn’t want to lose something that he was “in love with for the last 18 years.”

When Andrew is playing soccer, he puts everything going on in his personal life aside and solely focuses on what’s happening on the field. During his time at North Branford, Andrew learned how to deal with the mental side of soccer as he patrolled the pitch with his T-Birds’ teammates.

“It’s very important to me that I’ve been able to play soccer all these years and call myself a soccer player. It’s something that I think is very challenging,” Andrew says. “To compete at the high school level and to play full games constantly, it was more of a mental challenge at times. Myself and everyone on the team was able to show something past the game and come back and continue to play. That defines me as a soccer player.”


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