This football season was supposed to have been Ricky Giampietri’s finest hour. Instead it has been his worst nightmare.
A series of injuries to the multipurpose third-year varsity football player has spoiled a season for which he had spent a lifetime of preparation.
Giampietri separated a shoulder on the third day of practice which kept him out of competition until the second game of the season and limited his effectiveness thereafter.
Just when he felt he was nearing full strength, on Thursday a severe ankle sprain on the game’s first scrimmage play is expected to sideline him for at least two weeks.
“I’m not the only one dealt a bad hand,” he said, trying to remain philosophical about an athletic career which has already included two state appearances in wrestling and one in track and field.
The fact remains that the injuries have caused Giampietri more than a few moments of depression.
The day before the shoulder injury, “was the greatest I ever felt. The next day was the worst I ever felt.”
Because of injuries to seniors, Giampietri started on defense as a sophomore. Last year he didn’t come off the field. He was the league’s eighth-leading rusher and played defense and on special teams.
A summer’s work lowered his 40-yard dash time from 4.8 to 4.57 seconds. His weight-lifting totals all increased markedly.
“I felt I was just beginning to show what I could do,” he said.
He dove for a pass without pads on and landed on his shoulder. When he felt the bone sticking up, he said, it was a scary feeling.
“There was not a lot of pain but my eyes swelled up with tears because I felt everything I worked to be a part of was gone,” he said.
Within a month Giampietri, however, was playing football again.
Four games later, against Gonzaga Prep, he caught a pass and was tackled up field. The defender rolled up the outside of his left ankle.
It was the same ankle he had injured last winter during wrestling and which had bothered him in track. By summer it seemed to have healed.
“By Prep I had gained confidence in myself,” Giampietri said. “I’d had a bad break but was coming back from it. The feeling on the field was the worst.”
Giampietri has had to content himself with a relatively minor role for a team which is nearing its first GSL championship in a dozen years. He has watched his replacement at tailback, Giorgio Usai, lead the GSL in rushing and scoring.
“Maybe this is partly why it happened. He’s getting his recognition,” said Giampietri.
He’s had to reconcile his misfortune and shake the initial depression of a season gone awry.
“Maybe I’m scared I wouldn’t have done what he’s done, although I think I would have,” he said.
He optimistically is charging his teammates with getting him six more games, including playoffs.
“I haven’t told them about it, but they all know,” Giampietri said.
Football has been a part of him since the third grade. Giampietri attended CV practices, wearing the gear and taking part in drills.
“Here’s a little guy going through the bags. He was an inspiration to the big kids,” said his father, Bear coach Rick Giampietri.
Dad could recall seeing him, during the hottest days of doubles, asleep on the practice dummies.
In the seventh grade he snuck into the downfield drills with the sophomores.
“That was a highlight for me,” said Ricky. “I snuck in the back and ran into a couple of people. I remember getting run over, too.”
Said his dad, “When he was injured, it was the first double (practice) he missed in 10 years.”
By their sophomore season in high school, the coach knew this group of seniors was special. This year’s 6-0 season has borne out his prediction even with his son slowed by injury.
“I still like to think I’m a part of it,” said Ricky. “It’s been a fun year anyway. I can’t express how this team has grown.”
Tears of frustration for his dilemma have made way for tears of joy for the deeds of his team.
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