If there’s one thing that Danielle Gasperi has plenty of, it’s chemistry. Whether she’s on the basketball court or in the classroom, the Nazareth Academy High School senior has a way of standing tall.
In school, she’s an honor student who participates in Nazareth’s Community Service Corps and Nasdaq and chemistry clubs.
“In CSC, you volunteer and do community service. In the chemistry club, you do different experiments, and Nasdaq is a business club,” Gasperi explained. “Last year, in chemistry club, we made ice cream. I like the ones with food. We blew up a gummy bear once, too. It’s really fun.”
Once the final bell rings, she’s creating chemistry on the basketball court with her teammates. A starting forward for the Pandas’ varsity squad, Gasperi has helped guide her team to a 14-7 record alongside her two co-captains, Bridget Sobon and Raya Stearn — who also happen to be her best friends.
“We’ve all been on the team together all four years and I played AAU with them,” explained Gasperi, referring to the Northeast Rockers AAU squad. “Since we’ve played together for so long, we know what each other is going to do. We have that chemistry.”
Most recently, the Pandas squeezed past Gwynedd-Mercy for a thrilling 45-43 victory on Feb. 2. Nicole Dombrowski and Gasperi led their team in scoring with 10 points each. On Gwynedd-Mercy’s side, Caroline Shimrock scored a team-high 16 points.
Nazareth was scheduled to play Mount Saint Joseph in their final regular-season bout on Tuesday. The game was played after the Times went to press this week.
“The season has been going great,” said Gasperi. “We’re doing better than I expected. We lost four of our five starters to graduation last year. We’re doing a lot better.”
In addition to a new core lineup this season, the Pandas are working with a new head coach. John Turner — who had been Nazareth’s assistant coach — was promoted to boss at the start of the season.
“We got a new coach this year and he chose the seniors as captains,” explained Gasperi. “We all work together to keep the team together.”
This year’s trio of senior captains have been together since their freshman campaign. They have shared the growing pains, adapted to new coaches, and waited patiently for their chance to claim a starring role.
Now it’s their time to shine.
“I wasn’t really upset with my playing time last year,” explained Gasperi. “It’s tough playing behind a lot of seniors. It was tough for everyone to wait their turn, but you know it’ll come eventually.”
For Gasperi, it was worth the wait. The forward has tallied more than 10 points per game this season. She had a personal-high 21 points against St. Hubert on Dec. 18 and scored 20 points against Neshaminy on Dec. 27.
“She has really been great for us all year long,” said coach Turner. “Because of her size, she plays as a guard, but she can mix it up, which makes her really valuable to us.
“We’ve had some tough games, but another thing with a kid like that, you always feel like you have a shot to come back,” he added. “She has that drive about her on game day. At any point she can really go off and take it to the other team.”
Gasperi hopes to continue her basketball career in college next year. Although she hasn’t chosen a school yet, she’d enjoy attending Gwynedd Mercy College, Indiana University of Pennsylvania or Alvernia University in Reading. She wants to study nursing.
“My brother and a lot of my cousins are nurses,” Gasperi explained. “I went into work with my brother (Chris) when he worked at Hahnemann and I really liked it.”
In the meantime, she’s doing everything possible to ensure that her final season with the Pandas is a successful one.
“I think we’ll get to the championship. It’s going to be rough because some of the teams we play are tough,” Gasperi said. “We definitely have the talent, and I think we’re strong because if one player isn’t doing well, the others will pick her up. We all keep each other positive.
“I love playing at Nazareth because I love playing with my friends,” she continued. “It’s exciting to think about graduation, but it’s going to be sad to leave. I love Nazareth. I know I’ll miss it.” ••EndFragment