Fans and followers of high school sports in the Chicago area — particularly those who root for York High School (Elmhurst) and the West Suburban Conference — may want to keep an eye out for Joseph Martucci IV.
A freshman at the school, Joey Martucci is coming up through the ranks in not one, but three sports.
Last fall, Martucci went out for football for the first time at the urging of friends who were on the team. At 6-foot, 185 pounds, he clearly possesses the size to line up on the gridiron, and as it turned out, also had the skills to match.
Martucci played left defensive tackle for the York freshman “B” team, which went 7-2. His contributions throughout the year were noted by his teammates, who voted him the squad’s Most Improved Player.
In the spring, Martucci turns his attention to high school volleyball and probably will be positioned up along the front of the net for the Dukes’ freshman team after a tryout.
Much like football this year, volleyball was a new venture for Martucci last year as an eighth grader at Bryan Middle School in Elmhurst. His play at a tournament caught the eye of York boys varsity volleyball coach Ken Dowdy, who was in attendance. Afterwards, Dowdy approached him and some other boys competing in the tourney about trying for volleyball at York when they entered high school.
But Martucci’s favorite sport — the one which he’s been playing the longest — is basketball.
Last spring and summer, he suited up for the Illinois T-Wolves 14U AAU travel team, which plays tournaments each weekend from mid-March into July. The team competed mainly in the Chicago area, with some tourneys being held in either Milwaukee or Merrillville, Ind. All told, the team plays upwards of 35 to 40 games per season.
The T-Wolves punched themselves a ticket to the July, 2012 Division II AAU National Tournament that took place at ESPN’s Wode World of Sports in Orlando, Fla. The club finished 14th overall, and Martucci had a hand in helping the T-Wolves win one of those national tourney games in dramatic fashion.
He and a teammate grabbed a rebound of a missed shot near the basket with around two seconds left in double overtime. Both players still had their hands on the basketball as the clock wound down, but they managed to simultaneously to shoot the ball in for a game-winning layup.
“It was pretty fun,” Martucci said. “It was a bonding experience and we got to know each other more (as teammates). It was good to play basketball, have fun and do what you like to do.”
Martucci, who previously was part of the Bulls-Sox Academy (Lisle) Premier 12U and 13U teams, has been playing travel ball since the sixth grade. His travel league experience is serving him well during his first year playing high school basketball on York’s freshman “A” team.
In fact, it arguably helped him land a starting role on the squad.
Martucci had been coming in off the bench earlier in the year for York, but his performance in a game vs. Benet Academy changed that. Martucci entered the contest in the second quarter; his assignment was to contain a Benet player who had lit up York for several points during the first quarter.
That Benet player happened to be one of Martucci’s teammates on the Illinois T-Wolves.
Martucci limited him to two points the rest of the game, while he himself enjoyed a breakout game offensively, scoring 12 points in the third quarter alone.
More and more athletes are opting for additional training to help them gain a competitive edge by getting faster and stronger, and Martucci is doing just that at Get Fast, Inc. — a Willowbrook-based facility that specializes in athletic performance enhancement. The extra work is paying off as Martucci ended up becoming the third fastest 13-year-old to train there, running at 18.5 mph.
“I think it’s helped me a lot,” said Martucci of the added training at Get Fast.
Athletics is something that’s been a staple in the Martucci family, which is originally from Fateo, a town located in southeastern Italy. That’s where Joseph IV’s great-grandfather, Joseph Martucci the first, was born.
Joseph Martucci III, Joey’s father who’s a 1983 York graduate, played soccer and basketball at York and went on to play collegiate basketball at Marycrest College, an NAIA school in Davenport, Iowa.
Joseph III’s college coach his freshman year, Kevin O’Neill, was the head basketball coach at the University of Southern California for the past three years. However, O’Neill was relieved of his duties in January midway through his fourth season after a 7-10 start.