Sports Person of the Week
Shea is a Player for All Seasons in North Haven
After wrapping up a prolific offensive season with the North Haven Junior Legion baseball team, Justin Shea is getting ready for his junior year as a defender on the Indians’ boys’ soccer squad. Justin is a year-round athlete who also plays basketball and baseball at North Haven High School. (Photo courtesy of Justin Shea )
Justin Shea loves being a year-round competitor on the North Haven sports scene. Throughout the past decade, Justin has played soccer in the fall, basketball during the winter, and baseball in both the spring and summer. A packed schedule like this certainly keeps Justin busy, but he enjoys competing alongside his teammates no matter what season it is, and so he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I just love all three sports that I play. I have fun playing for the town and being with my friends all year-round. It’s a good time,” says Justin. “I’m competitive, and I like winning. It’s worth it because, in the end, when your team wins or gets to states, it’s just a good feeling.”
Justin is going into his junior year at North Haven High School, where he started on defense for the varsity boys’ soccer squad in his first two seasons. Justin was a starter for the Indians’ JV basketball and baseball teams as a sophomore, and now he wants to make an impact at the varsity level in both of those programs during the coming school year.
Most recently, Justin completed his second season with North Haven’s Junior American Legion baseball team and drove home a ton of runs while hitting in the middle of the lineup for Post 76.
Justin joined North Haven Legion baseball at the Prep level in 2015 and has been one of the key players on the Junior team in the two ensuing seasons; he also saw some time with the Senior squad this summer. Justin says he’s become a better hitter from facing so much quality pitching in Legion ball, and his .360 batting average this summer certainly reinforces that notion. One of the biggest reasons behind Justin’s prowess at the plate was that he focused more on taking the ball to all areas of the diamond, rather than just pulling it into left field.
“I looked for the pitch that I wanted. I didn’t chase anything bad. I looked for a pitch where I could drive in some runs,” Justin says. “I think I had a better offensive year this year. I felt comfortable and confident at the plate. In the past few years, I was more of a pull hitter, but this summer, I started hitting all around the field, instead of only pulling the ball.”
Justin’s offensive production had a heavy hand in an exciting campaign for North Haven’s Junior Legion squad, which played great down the stretch on its way to a second-place finish in Zone 2 and a return berth to the State Tournament. In the final game of the Legion season, Justin started for the Seniors when they won the championship game of the inaugural Dan Riccio Memorial Tournament that was named in honor of the late Post 76 commander.
“The second half, we just started playing really good defense and making less errors, hitting the ball better and getting good line drives, and everything just came together. It was a good season this summer. We started off rough, but ended good, and everyone was playing good by the end,” says Justin on the Junior Legion season. “It was definitely fun playing with all the older guys and, obviously, it was fun to win [the Dan Riccio Memorial Tournament]. It was our tournament, so it was nice to win, and finish off the season with something good.”
Justin plays both first base and the outfield in Legion and was primarily a left fielder for the Indians’ JV team this past spring. While he considers himself an outfielder by trade, Justin will be happy to play wherever he’s needed in order to get on the varsity diamond for Head Coach Bob DeMayo at North Haven High School.
“I hope to start varsity for Coach DeMayo, and I think I hit well, so I’m hoping that gets me at least a good look,” Justin says. “So many people have played for DeMayo, and they love him, and I’m excited to play for him and, hopefully, help the team have more winning seasons and win a state title.”
Justin has already earned a starting spot with the boys’ soccer squad at the high school. Justin brings a physical style to his defender’s position on the pitch, much he like he does as a power forward on the basketball court. North Haven boys’ soccer has struggled the last couple of years, and that’s something Justin is aiming to change as the Indians get ready to embark on their first season with new Head Coach Reid Chieffo.
“I’m looking for us to at least make it into states,” says Justin. “I’ve played for coach Reid before, and he’s really good. I think the team will play well around him.”