By Cait Kemp
Olivia Gamberoni is a force to be reckoned with on the court. She’s involved in every single play, whether it be diving for a loose ball, creating an opportunity for an open teammate or driving to finish at the rim herself. She isn’t just a shooter, a defender, or a rebounder. She is capable of excelling at all skills and is one of the most well-rounded players in the Western Mass. basketball universe.
After a slow start against Springfield International Charter School at the 2022 Spalding Hoophall Classic, Gamberoni quickly turned up the energy, leading her team to follow suit. Suddenly, the game flipped and Wahconah was leading by 5, then 10 and eventually 30 points by the final buzzer.
It was incredible to watch how her drive and determination pushed her teammates to give a little more, enough for them to break out against another talented and successful team.
“It’s really important in the game to not make yourself better, but your players better by finding good passes, or setting them up for good shots or layups,” said Gamberoni.
The passion Gamberoni has for the game did not happen overnight. She grew up watching her older sister, Maria, succeed in the sport of basketball, who’s had an influence on her and her play style over the years.
“I’ve always been watching her and not only looked up to her as a basketball player, but as a person. Since third grade, I’ve been on the bleachers watching her and I learned from her a lot,” said Gamberoni.
“I took a lot of those things and put them in my basketball game… I think I not only had to focus on following in her footsteps, but also taking on my own role and me as a person.”
Maria Gamberoni was a thousand-point scorer for Wahconah in 2021, and after reaching the girls’ leading scorer achievement she soon became the all-time leading scorer for Wahconah basketball.
Those were big footsteps for Olivia to follow. However, the task did not seem daunting to her.
She did not focus on trying to be just like her sister, but rather making her own role. Scoring was never her priority. Her energy sparked big defensive moments, and created opportunities for her teammates inside the paint.
“I’ve seen her come up through third grade and I remember watching her watch her sister, their team would take a time out in a travel game; she would run out on the court with a ball and shoot. She’s just got it,” said Wahconah head coach Liz Kay.
The most unselfish player on the court, Gamberoni still manages to average around 17 points per game. Watching her play is inspiring, and it’s not surprising that her team thrives off the excitement she produces during a game.
“She is the most dialed in athlete I’ve ever coached, and it doesn’t stop. It’s not just a game thing, a practice thing, that’s just who she is all the time,” said Kay.
“And, as a result, she’s the engine of our team, and our defense is more active than I have ever seen in my 20 years of coaching.”
Across the stats sheet, Gamberoni tallies numbers in every category. At the Hoophall Classic, she scored 22 points as well as added 13 rebounds, 6 assists, and 6 steals.
And she’s only a sophomore.
Gamberoni works well on the court with the team’s leading scorer Grace Wigington, who is also a sophomore. Together, the pair were unstoppable, both being threats from the arc, inside, and on the defensive end. Their bond began over the summer when they worked to become better.
“At first we didn’t really know each other because [Grace] came from Lenox, but we did work over the summer together… I think we know what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are and I think we find each other on the court,” said Gamberoni.
Despite only playing together for a short amount of time, it is impossible to know that from watching the dynamic between the two. It’s as if they have been playing together their entire lives.
“Playing last year together, that was really helpful too. And I mean, [Olivia] is always just up ahead, she’s open, you got to get her the ball,” said Wigington.
Gamberoni added, “And when Grace is hot, you have to give her the ball because she’s going to make them.”
With two players who, at their young age, can recognize each other’s skills and understand how to work with their strengths, it seems Wahconah will be hard to beat this season.
The Gamberoni basketball pedigree is clearly strong, and there is much more time left for Olivia to make a name for herself.