John Danielo thought his high school athletic career was over last November.
Danielo, a senior who plays football, basketball and baseball at Plainedge, discovered a lump on his right arm several days after taking a hit during a football game. Danielo said it grew so large that it eventually inhibited his ability to make a play on the field.
After getting an MRI, Danielo said the radiologist feared it may be cancerous. Danielo was then referred to a specialist, who said the problem was Danielo had a bone growing inside of a muscle. Danielo had surgery to remove the lump — which he said the specialist told him was not cancerous — a couple of days afterward.
“That week was a pretty crazy time for me and my family. We didn’t know what to think and we feared the worst,” Danielo said. “It was a huge relief. I thought my sports career was over.”
Danielo is back to playing basketball for Plainedge, which as he put it, “is pretty awesome.”
Danielo’s last varsity football game was against Valley Stream South on Oct. 19. He didn’t get the chance to play in the postseason. And he didn’t get a chance to make a play in the Nassau III Championship against Lawrence. Plainedge lost that game, 28-27.
Those close to him said Danielo had more than enough motivation heading into the basketball season as a result.
“I know that that made him that much more hungry for basketball season,” coach Brian Buckley said.
The Plainedge varsity boys’ basketball team won only six games in Danielo’s sophomore and junior seasons combined.
This season, Plainedge is 4-5 overall. Danielo, a three-year starter who was asked to move from forward to center because of injuries, is averaging about 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“Our offense runs through him,” Buckley said. “The hardest job for me has been making him understand he needs to be selfish at times. He has remained the one constant.”
Danielo is often double-teamed and at 6-foot-3, he is often outsized on the block when fighting for rebounds. The kid with the 98 average has found a way to produce, though.
“It’s very tough because we know Plainedge isn’t known for basketball and sometimes there are two guys on me,” Danielo said. “But all I can do is try to make something happen.”
If tough defenses and a couple of losses are Danielo’s problems these days, so be it.
“What I went through a couple of months ago put my life in perspective,” Danielo said. “I realized there are bigger things to worry about than a loss, a bad play or whatever. You never know when the clock will strike midnight on you.”