What a year it has been for WNY high-school sports. Across many fields, courts, tracks and rinks in the area, teams and student-athletes at every level played against great competition. There have been many people in the sports community that may have been behind the scenes but no doubt played integral roles with their team’s success. Two in particular that deserve some recognition are Patrick Veltri of St. Joe’s and Matthew Henry from Williamsville North. Both of these students have managed Varsity sports at their respective school. What makes these guys stand out is that they have a disability that keeps them from playing on the field or on the ice. These students will be graduating this spring and look to continue a career in sports at the collegiate level.
Patrick Veltri, a senior at SJCI, has been managing a sports team since 7th grade. His first team that he managed was the Kenmore Middle Jaguars football team. Ever since then, when Patrick came to St. Joe’s, he’s worked closely with the Federation Hockey team, Varsity Football team and Lacrosse team. He’s also done some work with the Baseball team as well. As a member of the class of 2017, Veltri will be moving onto Canisius College in the Fall. He will be studying sports management. He said that he chose Canisius because of the many similarities it has with St. Joe’s. It is a small school, with good class sizes. He also talked about the many connections in the career field like SJCI. For Patrick, it will be an easy transition because there are so many friends and classmates from Joe’s also attending Canisius. Patrick’s disability is Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and what that basically means is he cannot walk and in addition to that he has weaker muscles. Patrick has been affected by this since birth. This disease is mainly caused by a defect in the protein that builds muscle. That doesn’t stop Patrick from getting involved with the sports he loves and will be continuing to work with in the Fall. For the past few years Patrick has been a contributor to WNYAthletics.com and fromthe300level.com which is where you will find his work.
The next senior I was given the opportunity to connect with, Matthew Henry from Williamsville North first began managing the modified baseball team back in 7th and 8th grade. This past year he managed the State Champion hockey team which he loved doing. He’s worked very closely with the team this past season. Some of his duties included filling the water bottles and set up the pucks before practices and games. Henry says it was the best part of his senior year. Being a senior, it was a great feeling to be a part of the team and winning the Section VI Championship followed by a State Championship. This upcoming fall he has chosen to attend Erie Community College and hopes to continue managing some teams their like hockey or baseball. He chose ECC in order to obtain a teaching assistant certificate. He then hopes to transfer to Buffalo State to work on his Master’s degree for either special education or history with a minor degree in coaching. For Matt, the disease he suffers from is Hemiplegia Cerebral Palsy. It affects his left hand and left leg due to a brain bleed in the right side. This effects the way he walks and how the left side of his body does things differently than his right side.
Of course Matt refuses to use any of that as an excuse to stay away from what he loves most, hockey. Henry is also a member of the Buffalo Sabres Intermediate Gold sled hockey team. Two months ago Matt organized a sled hockey game between the BSIG and his high-school team at the Northtown Center. It was a dream come true for Matt as he had an opportunity to put the Spartans sweater on and play along side the North team. Henry scored the lone goal for Will North as the Sabres sled hockey team won decisively. It was a great experience for all and one that took a lot of work and over a year of planning, mostly by Matt.
Both of these guys have done great work and will be truly missed the following season. We wish them the best of luck in the future and hope they do big things.