Coaches had to pop his shoulder back in. It was painful. It was his first homecoming football game. That wasn’t how it should be. But that’s how it was.
Justin DeMaria was devastated. His shoulder: Dislocated. Fortunately, though, he made a comeback.
When it came time for the General Douglas MacArthur High School varsity baseball team to participate in the conference playoffs, no one stepped up more than DeMaria.
The center fielder had 13 hits in just 21 at-bats, translating to an impressive .619 average. It’s no surprise for head coach Steve Costello, who’s worked with the two-time All-Conference athlete for quite some time.
“From a coach’s perspective, Justin is the ideal student-athlete,” Costello said. “He practices and plays at full speed, and encourages his teammates to do the same. He is also at his best when it matters the most.”
Batting in the No. 2 spot in the Generals’ lineup, DeMaria knew his job was to get on base. He did that plenty, starting the year out as a patient hitter, settling in quietly before driving balls up the middle. The patience paid off, and he played a key role in the Generals’ playoff run.
DeMaria just wrapped up his athletic career at MacArthur, one that included stints on the baseball, track and field, as well as football squads. While serving as captain of the baseball team, he set aside plenty of time to excel in each sport.
In football, he’s a wide receiver, punt returner and a cornerback. For track and field, he ran short distance. On top of that, he also wrestled and played basketball when he was younger. When he dislocated his shoulder, basketball was out of the question. He focused on baseball, and it was a move that certainly paid off.
The skills he used in the different sports, he said, certainly translate to one another. Though they seem different on paper, DeMaria knew exactly how to tackle each of them.
“I love playing sports because it’s a way to have fun with my friends,” he said. “I see things before they happen, especially on the football field. I see things quicker than others. On the baseball field, I’m smarter than other kids.”
DeMaria credits his teammates for his success, something few high school athletes do.
“They believe in me,” he said. “We know each other and we had such great team chemistry. That just helped me the most.”
Come the fall, DeMaria will attend SUNY Alfred State College. He’ll play Division III baseball up north, about six hours away from home.
“It’s a brand-new family,” DeMaria said. “Living on my own will be my biggest challenge.”