Virus puts full court press on Carangi

Senior+Rob+Carangi+chose+not+to+play+basketball+for+the+Knight%27s+due+to+COVID-19+and+other+health+reasons%2C+but+his+impact+on+the+team+in+recent+years+helped+transform+the+team+into+what+it+is+now.

Prasham Jobanputra

Senior Rob Carangi chose not to play basketball for the Knight’s due to COVID-19 and other health reasons, but his impact on the team in recent years helped transform the team into what it is now.

At the time of this article, the North Penn Knights’ boy’s basketball team has a record of 3-1 in Suburban One’s Colonial Division and 4-2 overall. Coming off a deep playoff run from the 2019-20 season, the Knights have brought in some new young guys, Sophomores Mario Sgro and Ryan Zeltt accompanied by some of the returning vets on the team, Joe Larkins, Billy Coley, and Josh Jones. But there is one notable player that has chosen to opt-out of his senior season– and the absence of the 6’6 forward is hard to not notice.

“The main reason I can’t play basketball this year is because of the pandemic mixed with the fact that I have a pre-existing condition. When it first started I was not 100% sure what I was and wasn’t able to be because of it, and I consulted with my endocrinologist and he told me that it probably wouldn’t be the safest thing for me to do as a type-1 diabetic. Mainly because of the active environment I’d be on the court– people running around and getting close to each other. Especially for an indoor sport,” senior Rob Carangi explained.

“I’m disappointed that I’m not able to finish the season with some of the guys. I’ve been in the program since freshman year and I really enjoyed my time there. But I also know everyone is in their own personal situations and for me at least, the safest thing for me to do healthwise was opt out of playing. And it’s not just me, the people I interact with within my family are in mind too,” Carangi added on.

I’m disappointed that I’m not able to finish the season with some of the guys. I’ve been in the program since freshman year and I really enjoyed my time there. But I also know everyone is in their own personal situations and for me at least, the safest thing for me to do healthwise was opt out of playing.”

— Senior Rob Carangi

Carangi has a number of family members who are nurses and were working long hours at the very start of the pandemic and the stories he’s been told really shifted his perspective on whether or not playing was worth the risk.

“They told me what the virus has done to people on a first-hand basis– especially to those with preexisting conditions. I just don’t want to have a chance to put myself and/or someone else I love in one of those positions that my cousin and aunt have seen first hand out in the workforce,” Carangi explained furthermore.

For many athletes, their senior season is their one last chance to get attention from college recruiters if they hope to play their respected sport at the collegiate level. But for Carangi, that part of the decision-making process was made a little easy. Carangi has already been accepted into Villanova University under academic means and plans on majoring in Communications after his freshman year.

“I’ve always had conversations with my mother about if I wanted to play basketball in college. I do love the sport but I also want to focus on my academics. I just didn’t want to be in a position where I was going to change the school I want to go to just to play basketball. I enjoy playing basketball but I can do that anywhere– I don’t have to be on a varsity program at a college to play,” Carangi said.

As a member of the program since a freshman, Carangi has been a part of a lot of special moments and games that he will remember for the rest of his life. His big spark, however, came during the 2019-20 campaign where the Knights made it to the state playoffs. But the big man’s absence from the starting 5 this year has taken a toll on the team.

“From an X’s and O’s standpoint, his presence on the court is sorely missed. He is 6’6 and started every game for us last year as a junior. He’s a super high character guy who would have been one of our captains, providing great leadership and serving as a positive role model for the younger guys,” Coach John Conrad said.

From an X’s and O’s standpoint, his presence on the court is sorely missed. He is 6’6 and started every game for us last year as a junior. He’s a super high character guy who would have been one of our captains, providing great leadership and serving as a positive role model for the younger guys”

— North Penn boys basketball coach, John Conrad

There was a lot of momentum built for the team after their deep playoff run last year, and there are hopes of climbing a lot farther. But to Carangi’s surprise, breaking the news to his teammates earlier this school year that he would not be playing came with overwhelming acceptance.

“When I talked to the team, they were really understanding. I explained to them my situation and I’ve known a lot of them for most of the entire time I played there and they are really nice people and friends of mine. And having them supportive of my decision meant a lot to me,” Carangi explained.

Opting out to play for Carangi may have seemed like smooth sailing for some: he doesn’t want to play college basketball, he has a pre-existing condition, and he doesn’t want to spread COVID-19 to anyone he loves. But the reality of the situation is that just like some seniors hope to get college attention in their last season, some seniors just want to be able to experience their last season ever playing for a high school program.

“Part of me really wants to participate in my senior season and end off with a high note because everyone wants to be a senior in their sport. Which is the ‘peak’ for many athletes. The other half of me kept telling myself to listen to my doctor because it’s for my own good in the long run. Healthwise, I shouldn’t because the numbers were increasing when the season started,” Carangi said.

Despite not being an official member of the team on the roster, Carangi is always going to be a part of the Knight’s basketball family and is still fully supportive of his friends and coaches and hopes to maybe play with some of his friends again in another capacity.

“Watching the games, part of me really wants to be on the court playing with the guys. But another part of me understands that I already took myself out of that situation. But at the same time, I feel like I’m missing out,” Carangi concluded.