Sports Person of the Week
Volpe Helped the Hornets However He Could
Luke Volpe saw his wrestling career at Branford come to an untimely end, but he still made huge contributions for the Hornets and was ultimately named a senior captain. (Photo courtesy of Luke Volpe )
After competing with the Branford wrestling team for two seasons, Luke Volpe suffered an elbow injury as a junior and never wrestled for the team again. However, even though he wasn’t competing, Luke continued to support the Hornets by attending all of their meets and practices in an effort to help their grapplers get better on the mat.
Early in his junior season, Luke dislocated his right elbow during a match and was forced to sit out the rest of the season. While he didn’t want to be on the sidelines, Luke made the most of it by becoming an extra coach for the Hornets. He even served as the coach for Branford’s JV team during that year’s SCC Championship meet.
Although he was injured, Luke still wanted to do everything he could to help Branford succeed.
“This team just meant a lot to me. I knew I could still help, and I knew it would keep me connected with the team. I could learn from it, as well,” says Luke, a senior. “I just wanted to be there for my teammates in some aspect. It was different, but it was an enjoyable thing I could see myself doing in the future.”
Luke began his wrestling career as a 6th-grader at Walsh Intermediate School. He competed for the team for two years, but missed his 8th-grade season due to injuries. Luke was already playing football and lacrosse when he joined the wrestling squad, and he initially viewed wrestling as a way to stay in shape. However, after taking first place for the Walsh team at a tournament, Luke realized that wrestling was going to be must more than just another activity.
“A lot of my friends did it, and they just told me it was good to help with other sports. I honestly didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did,” Luke says. “We had an end-of-the-season tournament that I won. I came in with low expectations and didn’t think I would be able to. It clicked after that, that I can actually do it. And I enjoyed it.”
Luke joined the Hornets’ wrestling team in his freshman year at Branford and competed in the 113-pound weight class that season. Luke found that wrestling in high school was a much-different experience than what he was used to at Walsh, but after grinding it out as a freshman, Luke felt more confident heading into his sophomore year.
“It was definitely a different experience. You had to go against kids that were much older than you. It was something to get used to,” says Luke of wrestling in high school. “It was definitely big. Freshman year was a learning year. I was able to learn a lot.”
After sitting out his junior season because of the elbow injury, Luke saw his senior campaign get canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While Luke and his teammates weren’t able to compete, Luke received a nice parting gift when he was named one of Branford’s senior captains this year.
“That’s definitely one of the biggest accomplishments that I’ve had so far. It definitely meant a lot to earn that,” Luke says. “It’s definitely not an easy thing to do, and it’s not an easy sport. It’s one of the hardest sports.”
When Luke was out with his injury, Hornets’ Head Coach Jesse Hurlburt was impressed with his willingness to stand by his teammates and lend a helping hand. Hurlburt was able to trust Luke in a coaching capacity due to his solid knowledge of the sport. As Luke leaves the Branford program, Coach Hurlburt says that his legacy is one of dedication and being someone who always wanted to help his squad prosper.
“Luke was a kid who, even as a freshman, took coaching very well. He was always willing and wanting to get better no matter what. As a coach, you can’t really ask more than that,” says Hurlburt. “He has a high level of dedication. After he got hurt, he didn’t miss a single practice. He was there every single day. When we were naming captains this year, we thought about moments like that, and Volpe had to be one.”
Luke also joined the Hornets’ football and boys’ lacrosse teams as a freshman, playing wide receiver and safety on the gridiron and manning the attack for lacrosse. Unfortunately, Luke saw his senior football season also get canceled due to the pandemic, but he is looking forward to leading the lacrosse team as a captain this spring. While all three sports feature a wide variety of differences, Luke has learned lot from participating in each of them and become a better all-around athlete as a result.
“There’s definitely an aspect in all three that help me, whether it’s making a cut in football that could help in lacrosse or making a tackle that could help in wrestling,” Luke says. “They all help together.”
Luke loved wrestling from the second that he started. He embraced all the challenges of the sport, along with the family aspect of the Branford wrestling community. Reflecting on his tenure, Luke feels proud to have wrestled for the town as he made his mark on the mat.
“It’s a great thing. Wrestling is the hardest sport, and this town has been known for the Walsh program, but there hasn’t been a lot of people who have stuck through it,” says Luke. “I’m just glad to be one of the people that has. It’s taught me so much. I’ve learned some crazy lessons.”