May 26, 2011
BU good fit for Trojans Blanden, Ferrito
Two classmates, two different sports, one location!
When Homer Central School seniors Zach Blanden and Connor Ferrito received their diplomas during graduation ceremonies June 25 in SUNY Cortland’s Park Center, the duo will be saying good-bye to their high school playing and classroom days, but they will both be preparing for collegiate careers at the same college.
Binghamton University will be welcoming Blanden to the Bearcats’ baseball team while Ferrito will join the ranks of the lacrosse team.
Blanden will join current Binghamton freshman Shaun McGraw, a Christian Brothers Academy graduate, while Ferrito will team-up with former Cortland High laxer Brandon Planck, also a freshman this season, along with some other former rivals from Jamesville-DeWitt and Skaneateles.
Binghamton University, a member of the America East Conference, has been undergoing a huge transformation in its athletic facilities over the past few years, the latest will be a brand new baseball field slated to ready for the 2012 season. The lacrosse-soccer complex began hosting games in 2007.
Both Blanden and Ferrito aren’t ready for this season to conclude — Blanden’s Trojans scheduled to play host to Chittenango in a Section 3 Class B second round game today while Ferrito’s laxmen are in a 7:30 p.m. Section 3 Class C semifinal tussle against Cazenovia at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse.
Midfielder Ferrito had options before making his decision.
“I was also considering Marist, Hobart and Siena,” Ferrito said. “I really like Coach (Kevin) McKeown. The facilities are awesome. I met a bunch of the guys on the team and it is an up-and-coming program. I liked what I saw. It was really a no-brainer for me.”
Blanden also liked what he saw in Binghamton.
“It’s really a perfect fit for me,” said Blanden of the choice. “There are coaches, players and people I know there. My brother (Adam) went there, so I know that everything about the school there is good quality. There is no way I couldn’t go there.”
For the senior centerfielder, what’s it feel like playing his final high school season?
“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” Blanden replied. “It’s sad that it’s ending, but it is also a chance to move on in my life.”
Blanden can play just about any position. In addition to shortstop and pitcher, he has found a new favorite position?
“Definitely the outfield,” he replied. “I played there all summer and that’s where I plan to play at Binghamton. It was a little bit of an adventure when I started playing out there, but now that I have made the adjustment, I really like it.”
For midfielder Ferrito, he’s always been around lacrosse. What got you interested in playing?
“Mostly my Dad,” he said, father Mark Ferrito a former head coach with the Trojans now serving as an assistent. “He played at J-D (Jamesville-DeWitt) and he went on to play in college. I’ve been around the game since I was really young because he was coaching either here, at Skaneateles or Empire State Games. He’s been around the game a long time and I developed a passion for it.”
What’s that been like having your Dad around as a coach?
“I can’t remember a time when he hasn’t been my coach,” Ferrito said. “He’s been there for everything whether it’s junior high or varsity or teams over the summer. I credit him with a lot of the success I have had as an individual. It’s been good because I can always go home and ask him questions. He’s been great to have him on and off the field as a coach and father.”
Ferrito is in his fourth year on the varsity squad while Blanden is enjoying his third varsity season. They were the youngsters and now the veteran leaders. What about becoming leaders to teammates and role models to even younger layers with high school dreams?
“It is a bit of a different role for me,” Ferrito said. “I’ve been playing on the varsity team since my freshman year. I wasn’t that guy before, but this year, I have had to fill that role more. I feel I must fill that kind of role now because I am a senior and I have a lot of experience.”
Ferrito has a team-leading 46 goals this season and is second in points with 66 to date. On the all-time list, he stands in the fifth spot with 178 points (106 goals-72 assists) and is just the 12th Trojan player with 100-plus career goals.
Blanden is hitting .492 (32x65) this season with six doubles, three triples, five home runs, 11 stolen bases, 24 RBIs and 30 runs scored. He also has a 3-0 pitching record with two saves and 2.70 earned run average. Blanden is also at or near the top spot in numerous batting categories in the school’s record book.
What do this Trojans think about their places in the record books at Homer?
“That stuff is not really important to me.” Ferrito responded. “The real goal is to win a sectional championship. I’ve been trying to do that for four years since I’ve been on the varsity team. That’s the ultimate goal.”
“I have always worked hard to do my best,” Blanden said. “I don’t focus on any kind of record. I just try to go out and do my best day in and day out. If I break a record, so be it.”
What do their current coaches think of their college-bound players?
“Connor has grown tremendously from a young kid to a young man on and off the field,” lacrosse coach Tom Cottrell said. “He leads by example. He hustles on the time, especially on ground balls. He showed a lot of guts and determination playing with an injured shoulder his junior year. Connor is gritty, tough and hard working. You need kids like that.
“Binghamton is going to love Connor,” he continued. “It’s a tremendous situation for him. He is part of a great class coming in and he’ll be joining a very good group, including Brandon Planck, who played for Cortland High School. This is a growing program and it’s nice that he is close to home so his friends and family can go see him play.”
“It is great to see all of his hard work pay off,” baseball coach Robert Nasiatka said. “I am very happy he is playing close by. His parents have made a tremendous time investment in Zach’s baseball future and playing at Binghamton allows them to continue seeing him play.
“Zach is playing great this year,” he continued. “I feel the pressure of the decision being over helps him have more fun this year at the plate and in the field.”
What advice do the seniors have to the younger guys here and those still just starting to play the game?
“Value every chance you get on the field, even if it is just practice,” Ferrito said. “Don’t waste your time. You have to get better every day. You have to be able to look in the mirror each day and say to yourself that you did get better.”
“I love going back and being part of the little league parade,” Bladen said. “You remember your dreams of growing up. You’re waking up that first day and seeing those big varsity guys Now you are the big varsity guy. It’s reliving those younger days all over again and it’s fun to see their faces now.
“I’ve always tried to set the best example for the younger guys and do the right things,” he continued. “Work hard and be the best you can be. That’s the motto to follow. It’s a good feeling to know you’ve done well enough to have people look up to you. It’s nice know you are respected for all the hard work that you’ve done. Give that back to the younger players and you will all be successful.”
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