Boys basketball award recipients reflect on power of teamwork

Nick Perez stands in the gym in his basketball jersey Joe Staszeski stands in the gym in his basketball jersey Grey Whitmore stands in the gym in his basketball jersey coach steele smiles for the camera and holds a basketball
Three of Florida’s boys varsity basketball players and their coach were recently recognized in the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division V/VI awards. Players Nick Perez, Grey Whitmore and Joe Staszeski, and their coach Bill Steele, were recognized by coaches from other teams in the division who nominated and voted on their contributions to the season.  

What is remarkable about the players is not just their individual strengths on the court, but how they recognize that their achievements wouldn’t be possible without their teammates and coach. 

Senior Nick Perez, a point guard and the team’s captain, was selected as player of the year. 

“I worked hard, and my teammates really helped me out. Without my team I wouldn’t have gotten to this point because they all put their trust in me, and my coach put his trust in me, too.” 

Perez looks forward to continuing his basketball career on a college team next fall. 

When asked about his favorite part of the season, Perez didn’t highlight his top scoring games or individual successes. Instead, he spoke about his teammate, Grey Whitmore, who was pulled up from junior varsity midway through the season. 

“He was a big help because we needed another ball handler besides me to step on the floor. In the playoff game, he helped out a lot, and he scored 20 points,” Perez shared. “He has a really bright future.” 

Whitmore, a point guard, was selected for the all-division team. 

“Being an eighth grader on the varsity team, it’s pretty cool to be selected for the all-division team. Being pulled up, I was working pretty hard, and we made it all the way to sectionals. I feel that me and my two teammates who made it as well really deserve it.” 

Junior Joe Staszeski, a power forward, was also named to the all-division team. Staszeski, like his other teammates, put the focus on the whole group, and not himself regarding the awards. 

“I wouldn’t have been able to get the award if it wasn’t for everyone else who was helping me,” said Staszeski. He shared one game in particular that highlighted this group effort was against Pine Plains in the first round of the playoffs. “That was a really good game for us because it showed how good we were as a team; It wasn’t a one man show,” he said. “Everyone did their part and everyone succeeded.” 

Perez shared that the team wasn’t expected to make it as far as they did this year, advancing all the way to the section finals at Mount Saint Mary College. “It was an honor to play there,” he shared. 

Staszeski is looking forward to next season. “Everyone’s going to be a year better, faster, and stronger, and I’m really hoping for us to win sections.” 

Coach Bill Steele was also recognized by the OCIAA, as co-coach of the year, along with a coach from Livingston Manor. He felt that he and the team earned the honor. “We did so well in playing against those teams. We were six and two in that division.”   

Perez shared, “Coach Steele is great. He’s really who inspired me.” 

“They work hard, and everybody deserves to be recognized for the things that they do well,” said Steele.