Giaccone Never Gives Up with the Cougars
The high school baseball season is typically filled with ups and downs for everyone involved. Joe Giaccone, a junior on the Haddam-Killingworth baseball team, has experienced the full gamut of emotions on the ballfield during the 2022 spring season.
Following some early struggles, Joe made a triumphant comeback to H-K’s lineup down the home stretch this year. Joe stuck to his motto of never giving up and made key contributions for the Cougars as they finished off another solid regular season.
Joe got his start in baseball as a five year-old. After a love for the game was passed down from generation to generation in his family, Joe had to take his crack with the bat. He also started playing basketball during 3rd grade and began running cross country in 5th grade, continuing with both sports at H-K. Still, Joe’s greatest passion comes as a baseball player with his roots in the sport that date back to childhood.
“I’ve been watching baseball my whole life. I grew up watching baseball with my grandpa and my dad,” says Joe. “I used to stand in front of the TV and play baseball with the play that was on the TV, which made me very eager to start playing baseball as soon as I could.
Joe made a seamless transition from playing AAU baseball to the high school game at Haddam-Killingworth. Cougars’ Head Coach Mark Brookes often attended Joe’s AAU games and looked forward to working with him when the time came. Joe’s teammates also made the transition that much easier. Joe views his teammates as his brothers, and they’ve all grown together throughout their time on the diamond.
“The best thing about the H-K baseball program is that the team, we’re all just like brothers. We’re like a brotherhood,” Joe says. “We do a lot of things together, and we’re really united as a team, which helps us in games. We’re all just together, which is the best part.”
As he began his junior season starting in left field, Joe was struggling at the plate. He was focused more on hitting for power than contact, and his swings weren’t lining up with the ball. While going through this slump, Joe found himself out of the starting lineup.
However, after spending a few weeks working on his mechanics in the batter’s box, Joe earned back his spot in H-K’s lineup at the tail end of the season. Joe spent a lot of time refining his approach, and Coach Brookes was amazed with his turnaround.
“On how many teams does a kid wait 15 games, keep a great attitude, and work his butt off just to get a chance and then capitalizes on that chance? That doesn’t happen all the time,” says Brookes. “I give him a lot of credit. He’s given us more than we ever expected.”
When Joe returned to the lineup, the Cougars won a few games in a row toward the end of the regular season, finishing with a record of 13-7. Joe was 6-for-12 with 6 RBI in that span and then had 2 hits with 2 RBI in H-K’s loss to North Branford in the Shoreline Conference quarterfinals. Joe feels thrilled that he was able to give the Cougars’ offense a little boost.
“I’ve been really seeing the baseball well lately, just seeing it really well off of the pitcher’s hands. I changed my approach at the plate,” Joe says. “I changed my approach so that I go opposite field, put the ball opposite field, just drive in runs, and not hit for power—hit for average. That helped me a lot.”
Joe credits his turnaround to his work ethic. He never gave up despite his disappointments early in the season. Instead, Joe kept his head held high and found ways to change his game in order to become a focal point of H-K’s offense.
“I’ve been through a lot, and I think what motivates me is that there’s some things in my life that I get to a point where if something goes wrong, I take it personally, just drive to get better, and keep working,” says Joe. “I’m just trying to get better and better and better, but also be like, if something goes wrong, now it’s personal, so now I got to keep working and never give up. Don’t give up.”
Even when Joe wasn’t on the field, he always kept his Cougars’ teammates upbeat. Joe brings positive vibes to the dugout that make those around him feel comfortable and confident.
“My teammates would say I’m good at getting the energy up in the dugout and keeping everyone positive,” Joe says. “Say, when someone strikes out, I just try to get them back up, don’t let them think about that, keep a short memory, and have them wipe that off. Have them just keep playing defense and do it in the field.”
Joe’s journey throughout the 2022 season speaks as a true reflection of his character. Joe serves as a great example of why effort and dedication are always important. After finishing the regular season strong, Joe wants to continue setting that example as H-K participates in states.
“To be a baseball player, I think the biggest thing is you need to be hard-working and be tough,” says Joe. “At the beginning of the season, I was in a slump, and I just had to keep getting reps. I kept working. I didn’t give up. I think being hard-working is really important. It helps you so much.”