Pope John captains are leaders, contribute to team’s success

SPARTA. As of May 14, the Lions had an overall record of 16-7.

Sparta /
| 16 May 2023 | 06:17

On the course during practices rounds or matches - and even off the course, Matthew Doherty, JJ Kane and Owen Lapinski, senior captains of the Pope John XXIII Regional High School golf team, prove that they are well-rounded student athletes.

“Matthew has been with the program the longest and was a natural fit as a leader,’’ head coach Brian St. John said. “JJ and Owen were both captains of other sports they play - swimming and hockey, respectively - so they also possess the necessary leadership skills to get the job done.’’

The Lions have won the vast majority of their matches this season and it’s been a team effort on the links.

“While most of the scores have come from underclassmen, each of the guys has contributed a key match-clinching score this year,’’ St. John said. “Matthew’s 42 was our No. 3 score against a good Wallkill Valley team at Cascades (Golf Club) in March. Owen Lapinski scored a 44 for another win against Wallkill at Cascades. JJ Kane has been our third or fourth score multiple times since late April after an injury to one of our regular scorers. JJ’s 45 was vital to a win against a very tough Kittatinny team on the road at Hidden Acres (Golf Course) on April 25.’’

The coach pointed out the many ways in which the captains encourage their teammates to become better golfers.

“As important as the scores are, these guys have learned to keep the other players motivated to shoot well even on the tough days,’’ he said. “We’ve had a couple injuries and setbacks, but the seniors keep the younger players focused on a positive mindset.’’

Most importantly, the three captains are leaders in the classroom.

“All three players are AP students and National Honors Society members,’’ St. John said. ‘I have to worry about the AP schedule in the first two weeks of May a whole lot more than the detention list.’’

Through 23 matches, the Lions had an overall record of 16-7.

Several student athletes have made great contributions to the team.

“Vinnie Cataldo, Caden Niziol and Jack Jarosiewicz have been key contributors to every match this season,’’ St John said. “Luke Jarosiewicz (was also a key contributor to most matches before getting injured in mid-April.”

Cataldo and Niziol are seniors and the Jarosiewiczes are sophomores.

“We’ve played more matches than ever before to this point and we have 10 more to go. At (16-7) currently, I’m pleased with our progress, considering some of the setbacks when it comes to injuries.

“This last push of the season in terms of dual matches and tournament play will tell me a lot about how this team wants to be remembered and what type of goals we will set for the spring of ‘24.’’