Chiappone’s Energy & Focus Key to BHS Success in Baseball & Basketball
Apr 29, 2019 06:00AM
● By Pamela Johnson
Corey Chiappone circles the bases after hitting a home run against Blackstone-Millville last year. His father, coach TJ Chiappone, prepares to greet him as he rounds third base.
written by KEN HAMWEY, Bulletin Sports Editor
Corey Chiappone doesn’t seem like a dominant force when he’s competing on a basketball court or a baseball field, but when a game ends or a season concludes, the stat sheet paints a different picture. Whether he’s at point guard, on the mound, or at bat, the 5-foot-11, 145-pounder quietly and effectively provides the necessary energy to get positive results.The 18-year-old senior, who’s played a key role in helping Bellingham High secure tourney berths for the last two years in basketball and baseball, has been a catalyst in both venues.
Last year, as a junior, he led the baseball team in batting average (.381), hits, runs, stolen bases and extra-base hits. On the mound he compiled a 3-1 record and posted an earned-run average of 3.61. Last season in basketball, he missed the first nine games because of a dislocated elbow suffered 43 seconds into the schedule, but when he returned for the Blackhawks’ last 13 games, he led the squad in assists (3.8/game) and rebounds (5.9/game) and was second in scoring (8.0/game).
A captain in both sports, the Bellingham native just might be related to the Energizer Bunny because of his pro-active nature. Without much fanfare, Chiappone (pictured left) has been a Tri Valley League all-star twice in basketball and once in baseball. He also was a Metrowest Daily News all-star in baseball.
Hearing him discuss his varsity career at BHS offers insight into just how much he values team success and team chemistry over personal achievement. “My top thrill in basketball came after we were eliminated in the tourney this year by Greater Lowell,” he said. “After getting through the emotion of losing, I really admired the atmosphere on the bus ride home. I’ve been together with all the players for a long time and all those memories came alive. That’s the closest I’ve felt about a group of teammates.”
His most memorable moment on the diamond is another example of his team-first philosophy. “We faced Holliston on Senior Night last year,” Chiappone recalled, “and we were battling for a playoff berth. In the 11th inning, John Keeler singled in a run for a 6-5 victory. It was a great ending for our seniors.”
Whether he was leading the Blackhawks at point guard or volunteering as a unified sports participant, it was all about others. “I played either point guard or the wing in basketball, but I liked the point more,” he said. “I love distributing the ball and I like being creative in that role. Last fall I competed on the unified basketball team, and to see a special-needs teammate smile made me happy.”
What will make Chiappone happy this spring will be a third straight tourney appearance in baseball. He’s aiming high, listing a State championship as one of his objectives. “My goals are for us to improve daily, compete for the TVL Small Division title, qualify for the tourney and win a State championship,” he said. “We can achieve all those things because we’ve got talent and good team chemistry.” At the Bulletin deadline, the Blackhawks were 2-1 and Chiappone was 1-0, pitching four innings in a 6-3 triumph over Dover-Sherborn.
A right-handed hitter, Chiappone is a southpaw hurler who’s glad to be a tri-captain along with seniors Michael Reissfelder and Ben Youkilis. “We’re all pitchers,” he said. “Michael also plays shortstop and Ben can play the outfield. Michael is athletic and strives for perfection while Ben not only hits well, but also is an effective pitcher. An underclassman who can contribute is sophomore utility player Jake Houston, who’s strong on defense.”
What helps Chiappone to be a consistent pitcher, hitter and fielder are his quickness, command, pin-point control, a quick pickoff move to first, confidence, knowing an opposing pitcher’s weakness, and an aggressive approach at the plate that’s spiced with some patience.
Reflecting on some of his best games in baseball, Chiappone, who throws a fastball, curve and change-up, points to victories last year against Blackstone-Millville and Medway. “I hit the only home run of my career against BMR,” he said, “and against Medway, I pitched a complete-game two-hitter for a 9-1 win. My top games in basketball were in overtime losses against Dover-Sherborn and Dedham. I managed to score 20 versus Dedham last season, and I scored 16 against D-S as a sophomore. We lost, 62-60, in four overtimes. I hit three three-pointers and one of them at the wire forced the first overtime.”
Chiappone, whose father (TJ) is the Blackhawks’ head coach in baseball and basketball, deals with that situation with class and wisdom. “I do feel some pressure,” he noted, “but it’s a matter of proving myself every game—to my team, my coaches and others. If I concentrate and focus on every situation, I should be okay. As for my relationship with my teammates, they know that if my dad raises his voice, it’s his way of trying to improve their game. All my teammates are great friends and they’re a big part of my life.”
Chiappone’s competitive philosophy is basic—he plays to win. “Winning is important, and the keys to winning are to practice hard and strive to reach your potential,” he emphasized. “Some of the lessons one can learn from sports that are valuable in everyday life are being able to overcome adversity and to develop mental toughness.
“I had to overcome adversity when I injured my elbow in basketball,” Chiappone said. “I thought it was broken and I was finished with basketball and maybe baseball, but I worked hard in rehab and overcame the setback. Relying on mental toughness can help in beating a press in basketball or bearing down for that final strike to end a game with runners on base.”
As Chiappone’s athletic career heads for the finish line, his father offered these words about his son: “It’s bittersweet watching Corey as a senior, knowing that this will be the last opportunity to coach my son. I’m very proud of his athletic accomplishments and more proud of the type of young man he’s become.”
An honor student, Chiappone, who plans to play baseball in college and major in sports management, has been accepted to Endicott, Assumption, Westfield State and Bridgewater State.
When a final decision is made, there’ll be two sure things attached to his choice—his future will be bright and the college will be the beneficiary.