These days, Benet Academy sophomore Augie Mazza is hovering above the net, playing with the Redwings volleyball team. But he wasn’t supposed to be here.
During a basketball game I got hurt and that did it for me – I was one crutches. So my parents actually handled the situation super well and we went to the best pediatric hip doctor in the state. We did all the tests and stuff and he was like “hey you shouldn’t play sports again if you want to stay healthy and not be in a ton of pain,” said Mazza.
Mazza was in 6th grade… and this was obviously a very stark reality setting in for an active kid with a passion for sports.
“I was devastated, I played all the sports I could and I give credit again to my parents because at this time we got home and pulled out one of those yellow pads. And there were a bunch of funny things, like archery, Olympic archery, but one kind of stuck with me, and it was learn how to fly planes.”
So flying it was… but soon after completing his first class, a new door opened thanks to Mazza’s parents… and it led to a flight to the East Coast.
“They found the best pediatric hip doctor in the world, and he happened to be in Boston so we flew out there and they did this super cool procedure on me. They said I was all fine and then things all worked out and now I’m doing fine now.”
So much so, that Mazza’s coach, Jeff Steinberg, didn’t even know that kid he called up as a freshman to play on varsity last year dealt with so much adversity he said, “It helps kind of demonstrate who he has become today, given the fact that he doesn’t complain, he works hard and I’m sure a lot of that comes from that situation. I’m sure he could have folded there and said this is it, I’m sure there was a long recovery process involved with it. I can’t imagine what that would have been like. I’ve dealt with little injuries that kept me out for a month and those were things I couldn’t stand. So I can’t imagine being told I’m not allowed to play sports again.”
Even now, starting as just a sophomore, the Redwing has a maturity about him… with his experience providing a unique prospective for someone his age.
“When I was in sixth grade I was like ‘it’s only sports or nothing.’ And then I found out like, hey I can fly. There’s definitely way more things you can do with your life than stuff like that,” says Mazza.
He started last year as a freshman; he came in mid-way through the year. That’s a hard situation to be put into – playing with all seniors on the floor last year. And then being the youngest guy on the team, he was the only freshman on the team. I do think that helped, I think it kept him humble too and made him more comfortable in that situation than other people may be.
And sure, he may be flying high above the net now… but his altitude is about to skyrocket once more.
“I did drift away from it a little bit but this summer I wanted to make it my goal to get my pilots license, which would be super cool.”
All this soaring… born from adversity.
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