Fighting Irish top Gators
Lucas Ponting was front and centre for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Tuesday in more ways than one.
The lanky 17-year-old, Grade 12 student not only towered over his teammates, but he also stood out on the court for his overall exceptional play as the Irish topped the Lakeshore Gators 25-19, 21-25, 25-21, 25-21 in a Niagara Catholic Athletic Association senior boys volleyball game at Lakeshore.
Ponting was happy to be back in green and gold after the COVID pandemic wiped out school sports in 2020.
“It’s exceptionally good,” Ponting said when asked how it felt to be back. “I definitely missed it because last year we couldn’t do anything.”
Ponting’s first sport is basketball — he plays for both the school team and the Pelham Panthers at the club level — but kept as busy as possible during the lockdowns and restrictions.
“I was trying to work out and stuff and do much as I could,” he said.
Notre Dame coach Mark Infusini had high praise for Ponting.
“He’s a real leader,” Infusini said. “What I like about Lucas is that he leads by example. He’s not always the one that is telling guys what to do, but everybody on the team looks up to him, because he has a presence, a positional presence, athleticism, even his physical height. He’s dominant in so many ways.”
Infusini was impressed how his athletes have picked up right where they left off when sports were shut down.
“What I’m noticing from the guys is that there are three things that are really important. One is a sense of camaraderie, the team environment. And that competitive edge, they haven’t felt that for a long time. And there’s a mental stimulation here too, to try and figure out the strategies.
“They want to come all the time, they would practice every day. They are just very engaged.”
He said the return of return of sports has made a huge difference at the school.
“At Notre Dame, we have a very strong sense of spirit in the community, and we were trying to maintain that through a virtual environment but nothing replaces this kind of engagement, competitiveness and physicality,” he said. “And that’s the thing that we love about being back. It’s kind of jovial, joking around on the benches, but at the same time, a lot of focus and intensity.”
Lakeshore coach Marco Miani is enjoying watching his players compete once again.
“Oh, it’s fantastic,” he said. “They’re having fun and they’re excited, and that’s the key. And I think that helps make the school day even that much better. They’re wearing masks throughout the day, obviously there are some things in the pandemic that are still present in the school, and this gives them something to look forward at the end of the day.
“They’re all pumped up. Obviously the result isn’t what we wanted but nonetheless they’re excited. Practice is pretty much almost 100 per cent turnout so I think they’re really enjoying it.”
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