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Redwood Bark

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Sports Spotlight: Fresh-faced Calzaretta leads JV team

Two years ago, Jeff Calzaretta held Redwood football in the palm of his hand, staving off mediocrity by leading the MCAL in rushing yards with a gaudy average of ten yards a carry. At the end of the 2011 season, Calzaretta was recognized by the MCAL as an all-league first-team athlete on both offense and defense. In the process, he inadvertently inspired his would-be successor – his younger brother Nick.

Preparing for tomorrow’s game against Terra Linda, freshman Nick Calzaretta works out at practice on Tuesday.
Preparing for tomorrow’s game against Terra Linda, freshman Nick Calzaretta works out at practice on Tuesday.

Freshman Nick Calzaretta’s legacy preceded him into Redwood football, advertised as a player who would help the resurgence of the program. He has lived up to expectations.

Three mornings a week, Calzaretta wakes up at 4 A.M to work out with a grueling conditioning program called House of Steel that strengthens athletes with a difficult combination of running and weightlifting. In comparison, high school football is easy.

After the huddle broke and the sun set on the first day of freshman football practice this season, a lone figure made his way towards JV coach Sonny Chayra’s office. The following day, Nick traded in his freshman uniform and assumed his position as captain on the junior varsity team. During the season, Calzaretta has reprised his older brother’s trademark positions of running back and strong side middle linebacker where he is strategically located to stop running plays that tend to drift towards the overloaded side.

“I think he wants to be like his brother, to follow in his footsteps. Live up to the Calzaretta name because Jeff was just such an icon for Redwood football,” said wide receiver Andrew Gutierrez, who has known Nick for several years. “I found out he was going to be on the team over the summer and I just got really excited that I was going to get play with a Calzaretta, because I never got to play with his older brother. He lives up to the name.”

Calzaretta’s instincts and skills were seasoned and fine-tuned during his last six years playing football for the Southern Marin Broncos – an experience he described as grueling yet rewarding because of the team’s successes.

Unlike some athletes, Calzaretta was not immediately smitten with his sport of choice. Instead, playing football became habitual, an involuntary routine he continued because of the magnetic appeal of being on a team with his friends. Seeping in the waters of time and dedication, his love for the game grows stronger every year.

As captain of the JV team, Nick Calzaretta authoritatively saddles responsibilities customarily reserved for an older athlete.

“He commands a certain amount of respect,” said sophomore Enzo Tallerico, who was a stand-out on the freshman team last year. Statistically, Calzaretta leads the team in rushing yards and tackles, including a performance in last week’s game against Drake in which he snagged three interceptions and returned each for a touchdown.

“He drives people back. He beats offensive line men. He could probably keep up with wide receivers,” praised defensive back Nick Karnazes. “He’s just a freak of nature.”

Although his play cements his authority on the team, Calzaretta is also a knowledgeable leader who leads the players out onto the field, corrects errors in positioning, memorizes the plays and dictates the squad’s mentality by disciplining and focusing his teammates.

“We lost a lot of pretty good players, and he’s really picked up the slack and took on a bigger role, especially as a freshman to just come in and say ‘hey guys, I’m a freshman, I don’t really know you, but I’m going to be the best player on the team and we will win games,’” Karnazes said.

Calzaretta will likely play varsity football next season under Coach Henderson, who tries to foster the same kind of dedication in his players that Calzaretta shows each day.

When he was in middle school, Nick played baseball for the Twin Cities All-Star team, but he intends to abandon this past time in exchange for rugby during the offseason.

Off the field, Calzaretta enjoys hunting, fishing and cracking witticisms.

The JV team is currently 3-3 with 3 games remaining in their season, including a game this coming weekend against Terra Linda.

 

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About the Contributor
Blake Alm, Author