The LHS team is one of 24 in the NHIAA-sanctioned unified league, a league created to afford an interscholastic athletic opportunity for students who, due to a developmental disability, are unable to compete in varsity sports. The unified concept pairs these student-athletes with others who are referred to as "partner players," team mates from the regular education program. Laconia's unified basketball team is playing a six-game schedule this year and will conclude its regular season on Feb. 19 at Plymouth.
Stivali is a native Laconian who spent his first three high school years at Coe-Brown Academy in Northwood. He decided to transfer to LHS for his senior year, though, so he could graduate with his childhood friends. A multi-sport athlete, he played soccer in the fall, is on the LHS bowling team, and plans to play tennis in the spring.
Recently recognized as one of the high school's 14 students to receive the NHIAA's Scholar Athlete award, Stivali plans to attend a nursing school, perhaps Keene State College. He hopes to become a nurse anesthetist.
Stivali found out about the unified basketball team from its coach, Dave Levesque, who also coaches varsity soccer. Levesque has been impressed by his new unified basketball player. "He's been to every practice, he's been to every game. He's supportive, he cares for the team." And the team cares for him, said Levesque, adding that the other players look up to Stivali as if he was one of the team's coaches. "He's a coach on the floor, he's helping them to get to where they need to be."
In Stivali's eyes, his job is to carry the ball up the court and pass to whichever of his team mates is in position to shoot. By delivering a crisp assist, he's played a role in many baskets for the team, including the first basket scored by most of the team's players. His highlight of the season came in the first game, against Plymouth, when his pass resulted in a buzzer-beating basket that won the game for Laconia, a victory that brought joy to all on the team, partner players and all.
"They can put a smile on your face, even if you're having a bad day," said Stivali. He wishes his team mates got more respect and acceptance at school, and that more fans would come to their games. "I think people think they're incapable of doing things," he said. Those impressions are false, he added. "People underestimate them – some of these players are really good."
Peter Stivali, shown here with team mate "Ari" Johnstone, is a recent transfer to Laconia High School but quickly became a leader on the unified basketball team. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 February 2013 23:54
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 00:20
Laconia is looking up at the rest when it comes to Baker match play. "That is one part of our game that needs some work. It comes down to the kids putting too much pressure on themselves and wanting to do well." says Coach Jack Batchelder.
Of the ten Laconia athletes on the lanes, seven bowled their average or better in the standard games. Best performance of the day was Peter Stivali who bowled 173 and 138 for a 311 and increased his average by nine pins. Emilie Santiague increased by three and Samantha Batchelder and Trevor Lange each increased their average by two pins. Samantha finishes the regular season with a 134.06. She is hoping that will be enough to put her in the top 64 to be eligible to compete in the state championship individual competition set for February 23. Samantha hopes to join teammate Zina LaBrie who finished with a 138.56 average. Before this past weekend's matches started, the 64th spot was a 133.17 average.
Laconia will compete in the Team Finals on Saturday at Spare Time Lanes in Manchester. Every school will be there and teams will bowl in the Baker format, best four out of seven with winner moving on. The LHS Bowling team is grateful to Funspot for being the team's home lanes and allowing practice twice a week. "The extra practice this season has really helped the team to get better," said coach Jack Batchelder.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 00:11
Playing arch rival Gilford on February 10, the team fought for a second strong victory. Led by Nick Murray, who had a season-high 12 points and 14 boards, the young Sachems would not be denied. Carter Doherty added 13 points and nine boards while point guard Jake Filgate, coming back from an ankle sprain, chipped in six points, grabbed nine rebounds, and had five assists. The team played well defensively, running a tough half court man-to-man and limiting Gilford's ability to shoot the ball. When the dust had settled, the Sachems had a 49-26 win, improving to 12-8 for the season.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 00:10