ST. BONAVENTURE, NY - A walk-on is player who is not a scholarship athlete and someone who may never see playing time in a game. Nevertheless, Jack Galatio took a chance and tried out for the St. Bonaventure University basketball team during his freshmen year.
The morning of his tryout, Galatio said he couldn’t sleep and was pacing around until he had to leave.
“Once I got there, I just relaxed myself. I played pretty well that day,” he said. “I kept telling myself ‘go out there and have fun, just like you normally do.’”
The tryout consisted of a game of five-on-five scrimmage with senior Caleb Maguire, a walk-on who was already on the team, junior Quinn Lee Yaw (a transfer from Division II Edinboro University) and another player who was trying out.
Although Galatio relaxed during the actual try-out, the stressful part of the process came afterwards when he had to wait a week to know if he made the team. Galatio kept emailing Matt Pappano, the team’s director of basketball operations, and eventually was called to head coach Mark Schmidt’s office.
“I ended up going to talk to coach Schmidt and he just said ‘6 a.m. practice tomorrow, be there.’” Galatio said.
After learning he had made the team, Galatio immediately told his parents and said it was “definitely a relief.”
Schmidt told Galatio he may never get a scholarship or a shot to play in the game, but he needs to come ready to work every day in practice.
“In practice, it was a big adjustment this year for me knowing I have to work just as hard if not harder than those guys and then come game time, knowing I am not going to be playing,” Galatio said.
To his teammates, it does not matter whether Galatio is a walk-on or scholarship athlete.
“I personally think ‘that’s my teammate,’” senior forward David Andoh said.
“There are some drills that he wants the better guys going against the better guys to get a better look, but for the most part we are treated the same,” Galatio said. “I would rather have it that way. I want to be held to the same standards as them. I don’t want to feel inferior to them.”
With the Bonnies suffering injuries to junior forward Courtney Stockard and graduate transfer forward Chinoso Obokoh, the numbers were short in practice during the 2016-17 season.
“Sometimes he made 10; he would get out there and compete,” Andoh said. “He made shots when he had to make shots. He would challenge our guards. People don’t realize that him going hard at all is very beneficial to the whole team.”
Junior guard Idris Taqqee said Galatio is effective in practice, especially for him.
“Jack brings his ‘A’ game every day we are in the lab and that alonepushes me,” Taqqee said. “Even though he doesn't see the floor, it doesn't affect the way we see him as teammate.”
On game day every player needs to be ready, Taqqee said
“We need everyone prepared and ready to be successful,” he said. “Walk-ons are a part of the team, and it’s important that we are all together as one.”
Galatio is a sports studies major, with a concentration in human movement science. He is from Hornell, which is about 40 minutes from St. Bonaventure, and is taking full advantage of Division I athletics.
“I am actually interning with coach (Darryn) Fiske whenever I can get in their (the weight room),” he said. “I think being a walk on has helped me see another side of that – (like) making the program and seeing what works in the weight room and how that could help me. Also, if I wanted to do coaching, I think this experience definitely opens up a lot of doors with making connections.”
Galatio noted that his transition from high school to college became more challenging because of basketball. He said Joel Rosencrance, St. Bonaventure’s Academic Coordinator for Men's & Women's Basketball and his coaches have been helpful in ensuring he completes his academic work.
“The biggest thing I have taken out of it is to appreciate what you have and the people around you,” he said. “Just know during tough times, just seek help. It’s going to be there.”
Andoh provided Galatio with one piece of parting advice for his future sports career with the Bonnies.
“Work hard, bro. You are on the right path,” Andoh said. “Schmidt’s a tough guy, but any time he sees you working, it is in your favor.”