Partyka Caps Off Valley Hoops Career with All-Conference Nod
Ever since he was a child, Simon Partyka wanted to play the sport of basketball. Simon grew up watching his older brother Oskar compete for Valley Regional, and there was no better feeling for him then seeing the ball swoosh through the hoop.
Simon was able to realize his dream by suiting up for the Valley boys’ basketball program for the past four seasons. This year, Simon earned All-Shoreline Conference Second Team honors while leading the Warriors as a senior captain.
“I’ve been playing since I was five years old, and I got into it because of my older brother’s friends, who won the state championship at Valley in 2013,” says Simon. “Shooting and scoring in general is my favorite part. The defensive part is more like work. I just had help from my teammates to get more steals.”
Simon, a guard, enjoyed a solid senior season by averaging 12.4 points, 3.5 assists, and 3.4 per game for Valley Regional. Simon and his teammates helped the Warriors earn 11 victories while qualifying for both Shorelines and states this year, including a 56-43 win versus Nonnewaug in the first round of the Division IV State Tournament.
“We all had the same goal in mind heading into states—playing at Mohegan Sun. We dreamed about that together since travel basketball,” Simon says. “Overall, the season could have went better, but we faced a lot of adversity. Some games we should have won and lost, but we were at our full strength for one game and proved with everyone we can be the best team in the Shoreline.”
Simon spent a lot of time working on his game with fellow senior captain James Marsden and junior captain DiAngelo Jean-Pierre, who are two of his best friends. Simon credits his teammates for helping him develop into the player that he became in his senior year.
“James Marsden and I stayed after almost every practice and almost every game just to shoot in the gym. Sometimes it’s for two hours or it’s just for 15 minutes. It all depended on how we performed,” says Simon. “During the summer I spent most of my time with DiAngelo Jean-Pierre either playing basketball or getting ready for our fall and winter seasons. We utilized the weight room and played summer league basketball.”
Simon saw his efforts pay off when he was named to the All-Shoreline Conference Second Team this season. Simon considers going All-Conference a major honor, along with another accolade that he received earlier in the campaign.
“It feels great. This is my second time being selected for an All-Conference or tournament team,” Simon says. “Being selected All-Tournament at the Artie Kohs Xavier Tournament was a little bit sweeter because they chose, out of four teams, us, a Division IV school, and three other Division III schools.”
Head Coach Kevin Woods describes Simon as an absolute pleasure to work with and a player who the Warriors always needed on the court. Woods says that Simon was a true leader for the team all season and will be sorely missed next year.
“Simon is a coach’s dream. He is another coach on the court. He works so hard both in and out of season to master the art of the game,” says Woods. “Simon is one of the greatest leaders I have ever coached, and it has been an honor to coach him and watch him develop into the amazing player and, more importantly, the amazing young man he has become.”
Simon’s relationship with Coach Woods stems back to when he was a child. Simon watched Woods coach the Warriors to several successful seasons, and that made him yearn to play basketball when he reached high school.
“I looked up to him because of how many times he won when I was watching as a little kid,” says Simon. “Now, being able to play for him, we have a very strong relationship since he helped me become one of the leaders on the team.”
After Valley missed out on playing in states the past two years, Simon feels thankful that the Warriors were able to complete a full and healthy season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic this winter. Simon wasn’t as worried about finishing out the season as he was last season, but still, he never let his guard down.
“I was mostly worried last year, because it was the beginning of the pandemic,” Simon says. “Now, I am not worried at all since the mask mandate was lifted, and I can finally breathe on the court. I was very happy to be able to complete a full season with the team.”
While he isn’t 100-percent certain if he’s going to continue playing basketball, Simon does have an interest in competing at collegiate level. One thing that Simon is certain about is what he plans on studying in college after he graduates from Valley Regional.
“I would like to play at the next level. I have a few interests from low Division III-level schools, but I am not completely sure if I want to play,” says Simon. “I definitely want to major in business administration once I get to college.”