Shenendehowa unified basketball team preparing for success in 2016

Paul Macaluso, center, looks for his shot against defense from David Moshier during a Shenendehowa unified basketball practice Monday, April 18, 2016 in Clifton Park. Behind the play, at left, is Nathan Waring. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)Paul Macaluso, center, looks for his shot against defense from David Moshier during a Shenendehowa unified basketball practice Monday, April 18, 2016 in Clifton Park. Behind the play, at left, is Nathan Waring. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Sportswriter

CLIFTON PARK — The Shenendehowa unified basketball team has been hard at work preparing for its third season.

“The team is looking great so far,” head coach Carley Galarneau said at one of her team’s preseason practices. “We’re working a lot on the basics, some fundamentals.”

Galarneau is in her third season coaching the school’s unified hoops team, which brings together players from special education backgrounds and the general school population to play rival schools in a competitive environment. 

This year’s roster consists of 21 players and partners. The team’s Youth Activation Committee will work to support it in terms of publicizing its games, while a group of four managers help the team on a day-to-day basis.

Assistant coach Gary Roberts directs players during a Shenendehowa unified basketball practice Monday, April 18, 2016 in Clifton Park. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Assistant coach Gary Roberts directs players during a Shenendehowa unified basketball practice Monday, April 18, 2016 in Clifton Park. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Shenendehowa’s first game this spring comes May 9 against Mohonasen.

Galarneau has some extra help, too. Former players Gary Roberts and Jill Wildberger return this season as assistant coaches for the squad. Wildberger is “doing a little bit of everything” in her role as a coach, Galarneau said, while Roberts is helping to run practices and keep the team’s spirit up as it works through its preseason.

The chance to help out is one that means a great deal to Roberts.  

“It’s always been a dream for me to coach,” he said. “I get to mold these young people into better people, and not only as athletes.”

His message during the Plainsmen’s preseason has been for the team’s players to set their goals high and work hard each day to pursue them.

“If they really want it, they have to go after it,” he said.

Francesca Citone, center, waits to start playing during a Shenendehowa unified basketball practice Monday, April 18, 2016 in Clifton Park. With Citone are team managers and varsity girls' basketball players Erica Ryan, left, and Sydney Quinn. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Francesca Citone, center, waits to start playing during a Shenendehowa unified basketball practice Monday, April 18, 2016 in Clifton Park. With Citone are team managers and varsity girls’ basketball players Erica Ryan, left, and Sydney Quinn. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Right now, though, the focus for the Shenendehowa team is on making sure it is acting as a cohesive unit before games start up. Sporting a Dwyane Wade jersey, Shenendehowa sophomore player Paul Macaluso said the Plainsmen know what needs the most work before they take on Mohonasen to start their season.

“Our teamwork and our passing,” he said.

Robert Johnson, a junior, said the best things about being on the team are easy to identify.

“Probably winning,” Johnson said. “Shooting the baskets.”

Charlie Valenty takes part in a drill during a Shenendehowa unified basketball practice Monday, April 18, 2016 in Clifton Park. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Charlie Valenty takes part in a drill during a Shenendehowa unified basketball practice Monday, April 18, 2016 in Clifton Park. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Charlie Valenty, a junior returning from last year’s team, said this year’s squad is not lacking for confidence.

After a successful 2015 campaign, the goal this year for Shenendehowa is to be even better.

“We can be the best team in New York and win a lot of [games],” Valenty said.

At the end of the 2016 season, the culminating event for the 21 area teams participating in the unified basketball season will take place at Shenendehowa.

Defending the Plainsmen’s home court against all comers, Valenty said, is going to be the highlight of the season.

“I can’t wait for that,” he said.


There are 21 players on this spring’s Shenendehowa unified basketball team.

Hunter Tissier dribbles during a Shenendehowa unified basketball practice Monday, April 18, 2016 in Clifton Park. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Hunter Tissier dribbles during a Shenendehowa unified basketball practice Monday, April 18, 2016 in Clifton Park. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

  • Francesca Citone
  • Sean Dillon
  • Paul Eaves
  • Daniel Fagan
  • Robert Johnson
  • Paul Macaluso
  • Adam Mackey
  • David Moshier
  • Sara Ricci
  • Logan Ryan
  • Jennifer Sandowski
  • Tyler Schnaible
  • Daniel Slater
  • Ali Soori
  • Jake Szwarcberg
  • Sophia Tearno
  • Nicholas Temperine
  • Hunter Tissier
  • Charlie Valenty
  • John Valenty
  • Nathan Waring

About the Author

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly is a sports reporter for Your Clifton Park and Your Niskayuna, weekly print publications of The Daily Gazette. Kelly grew up in Clifton Park and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 2006. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. Kelly's work has been honored by the New York News Publishers Association, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has previously been featured in The (Amsterdam) Recorder, The Saratogian, and Albany Times Union.