Upward path

Sometimes you just need to do whatever the team asks of you. It may not be the natural position or the right position, but when the team comes calling it’s important to be a team player.

It can be tough at times. A coach may move you form your natural position. The transition might not be an easy one at times. Frustration can easily set in as the player is finding his or her way. Once they do become acquainted with their new surroundings watch out.

West Seneca West High School volleyball player Nichols Pozzuto knows all too well what it’s like to change position. A natal Libero, Pozzuto was asked to move to the outside to help the Indians become a complete team.

At first the transition wasn’t an easy one and doubt set in. Now, it looks like Pozzuto has been playing the position forever.

“Playing outside hitter has definitely been tough on me because my natural position is libero so I don't feel as comfortable at the outside, but I am always ready to do whatever the team needs to score points and win matches,” stated Pozzuto. “I feel that good passing is definitely the key to being a solid outside hitter and having good chemistry with a setter to lock in on timing. Also being thrown into outside as a smaller outside when I was a sophomore taught me to have a wide toolbox and find shots that score points.”

If you know anything about West Seneca West volleyball is that they have a great tradition. Numerous players have gone on to play at the Division I level and beyond. As a younger player Pozzuto was able to learn from some of the best.

He was able to pick the brain of soon to be Division I players - that isn’t the case at a lot of high schools in Wester New York. At West, however, it’s different. So are playing for a schools that has high expectations every year.

When a program is built on success that program expects success year in and year out. It’s up to the played to buy into that success or get swallowed up by it. Living up to expectations isn’t not an easy thing.

Pozzuto doesn’t shy away from the traditions and expectations that come with playing volleyball at West Seneca West. In fact, the young man thrives under the pressure - under the spotlight.

“My time at WSW has been amazing as I got to play with high level players since I was starting as a freshman, including Cam Bartus (Penn State) and Ian Barker (Charleston), and got to learn from them at a really young age (14). A great memory I’ve had was playing my freshman year and the super competitive matchups we had every single night, like the Clarence and Orchard Park games. I also really enjoyed the playoff game I had my sophomore season against North Tonawanda, because the gym was packed with rowdy fans and just a fantastic competitive atmosphere,” stated Pozzuto. “There is a lot of great tradition at West, and living up to those traditions is always in the back of your head. The expectation is to be a top team in the section and put up a fight and I think West volleyball has been able to take that task on. I do sometimes feel the pressure to play on the biggest stage, but I just try to go out and play the game that I love and hope that the work that I put in pays off, and I get my job done with leadership, and my position on the court.”

Playing on varsity since freshman year, Pozzuto has grown into a solid leader for this club. He has been able to see how other upperclassmen led this team - and how they went about going about their business.

It’s one thing to be named a leader. It’s another to show what a leader is all about. Pozzuto has what it takes to be a solid leader for this team and it has shown.

“Leadership is a very hard role to take on. But making sure guys are staying on task in practice and working their hardest every day is a big idea in my leadership strategy. Also being very vocal on the court and helping your team focus in is very important to winning tough matches,” stated Pozzuto. “I feel that I have grown as a leader in the sense that instead of getting frustrated with my team on the court because of a bad play, it is an opportunity for me to step in and help those players out. Also, being a leader off the court is just as important as on. I try my best to be a role model for the younger guys that will be future leaders of the team.”

With his senior year quickly coming to a close, Pozzuto has been honing his skills for the next level. One of the best players in WNY, Pozzuto has options when it comes to playing at the next level.

Colleges from Division I all the way down to Division III have been calling for his services. The young man is still mulling over where the best fit will be for him both athletically and academically - and isn’t ready to make that decision just yet.

What he does know is that he will need to step up his game even more at the next level. What he has done in high school won’t mean anything when he gets to college next year. Pozzuto understands that he will need to work even harder if he wants to contribute right away as a freshman.

“To compete at the next level is all about attitude and hard work. Attitude can get you in a college or clear you off of their recruitment list in seconds, so bringing the right sportsmanship and respect towards your own players, the refs and yes even opposing fans is very important to college coaches,” stated Pozzuto. “Also coming to practice and setting goals for yourself, to continue pushing yourself is very important, because you never want to maintain skill level as a player, you always want to be on an upward path.”

Nicholas Puzzoto’s path in definitely on an upward path.