Sports Person of the Week
Montecalvo Always Answered the Bell Off the Bench
Senior Jason Montecalvo played a key role off the bench while helping the Valley Regional boys’ basketball team notch 18 victories and reach the Division V state semifinals. Jason also has earned All-Shoreline Conference honors in three straight seasons for the Warriors’ cross country squad. (Photo courtesy of Jason Montecalvo )
Jason Montecalvo capped off his career with the Valley Regional boys’ basketball team by helping the Warriors have a great campaign that culminated with a wonderful playoff run. Valley was one of the top squads in the Shoreline Conference this winter, and Jason made huge contributions to the Warriors as a senior leader on the squad. Jason is also an accomplished distance runner for Valley Regional’s boys’ cross country and outdoor track teams.
Jason feels proud about how he contributed from the floor as a shooter for the Warriors. Jason worked hard to improve his jump shot, and his efforts paid off during his senior year. In the end, Jason helped Valley win 18 games and advance all the way to the semifinals of the Division V State Tournament.
“I think I ended up shooting really well this year. I shot 41 percent from three. That was pretty high for my standards, and I was proud of my team as a whole,” Jason says. “Not a lot of people thought of us as a threat. We won a lot of games. In the playoffs, we showed what we could do, and we almost made it to Mohegan.”
Jason played an important role while coming off the bench in certain scenarios, especially when Valley needed shooters to space the floor. While the vast amount of talent on the roster limited Jason’s playing time, he didn’t mind exchanging minutes for a memorable season.
“I was just happy to do my role. We had such a deep team. We had answers for a lot of different situations. The roles became smaller as a result. I could have done more in a different position, but I was happy getting wins,” says Jason, who lives in Deep River. “No one really remembers what the individual stats are on a losing team. When you’re winning, at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.”
Jason primarily played the small forward position, where he often sank catch-and-shoot opportunities after the opposition moved in to contest a running layup. Jason prides himself on being able to come in and make the right play, whether that means draining a big shot or passing to the open player.
“I space the floor and get the ball and shoot. I would come in when we needed to score. I know how to pass pretty well, too. I wouldn’t turn the ball over or take a bad shot,” Jason says. “We were such a quick team. Once you beat someone off the dribble, it opens up so much.”
Head Coach Kevin Woods enjoyed having Jason on his team for the past four seasons. Woods says that Jason was a great role model for the younger guys while leading the team with senior captain Kevin Fasulo. Woods knows that Jason’s contributions were critical to the Warriors’ success this year.
“Jason’s one of those guys who leads by example. He does everything right on and off the court. He’s a great student and a model citizen, and he’s such a hard worker. He’s improved so much over the four years. He made himself great, talent-wise,” Woods says. “Jason worked incredibly hard to get his game to where he was at the end. He made some really huge shots for us in our game, especially in our [42-41 win] against Coginchaug. We don’t have the record we have this year without Jason.”
While Jason loves basketball, his talents shine on the trails and the track, as well. Jason has earned All-Shoreline Conference honors three times with the Valley cross country team, and he’s hoping to qualify for states as a distance runner with the track squad this spring. Last fall, Jason turned in a personal-best time of 17 minutes and 48 seconds on the 5K trail.
“Basketball is my favorite sport, but I’ve found the most success in cross country and track, and I found success in all three this year,” says Jason. “One of my best seasons was making All-Shoreline for cross country in my sophomore, junior, and senior years.”
After high school, Jason will be running cross country at the Division III level for Hobart-William Smith College in Geneva, New York. Jason is excited to take the next step, but he knows that he’ll miss everyone who’s helped him become a standout student-athlete at Valley Regional.
“I thank my teammates and coaches on the basketball, cross country, and track teams who pushed me day-in and day-out. They drive me to become better. My parents, Liz Tracy and Peter Montecalvo, have always supported me, and I wouldn’t be able to do it without them,” says Jason. “I have a lot of fond memories at Valley in athletics and school. I matured here. It’s gotten me ready for the next level. I’m going to miss it, but I’m ready to move on, too.”