Working Her Way to the Top

The Story of a Determined Underdog Who Proved She Could

Emily DiGiacomo, Staff Writer

Basketball has been a significant part of Abby Marasco’s high school experience. (Mark Lawrence Photography)

The lights of the Hackler Gymnasium reflected off of the court floor as her name was called. Watching her parents make their way down from the stands to meet her in the middle of the echoing gym was a moment almost too surreal to comprehend. Family members of the other seniors were scattered on the bleachers as Covid precautions took precedence over Senior Night. With her teammates and coaches behind her, she looked into the dispersed crowd and remembered where it all started.

That Saturday morning 14 years ago, playing in the co-ed kindergarten league, would be the start to a journey filled with lifelong memories and hard work. The squeaking of brand new sneakers on the wax floors and the sound of balls being chased down because no one quite knew how to dribble yet echoed throughout the building. As the seconds ticked down on the scoreboard marking the very last game of the season, she ran around the court and came up to the foul line. A boy her age passed her the ball and as it fell through the net, she turned to her coach and exclaimed “I winned, Dad! I winned!” He carried her up and down the gym, preparing her for a lifetime of celebrations to follow. 

Abby Marasco is a 2021 Pinkerton senior who has been playing basketball since she was 4 years old. From kindergarten leagues to middle school tryouts, AAU practices and high school championships, she’s finally committed to a college and ready to wrap up her last season of Pinkerton basketball.

She’s described by her friends as someone who is hardworking, caring, compassionate, and loyal. 

“Abby is full of energy,” Coach Buskey says. “She has a distinct and remarkable way of finding the good in everything. She is that beacon for us at practice and in games. It makes her a really good teammate- probably one of the best teammates we have.” 

Marasco is the first girl off the bench this year as a shooting guard, just one of the aspects that’s shown how far she’s come.

A fun first season on the freshman team was followed by an even better one on junior varsity her sophomore year. As a junior, she made varsity and watched her older teammates play. 

“She didn’t get a lot of time last year,” Buskey admits. “But that didn’t derail her and she didn’t lose her positive energy.”

Marasco continued playing AAU and working in the off season to better herself and improve wherever possible. She began to get college looks and started talking with some schools. Around the time she made varsity as a senior, she committed to Western New England University for basketball with a major in business. 

Buskey commented on Marasco’s growth when she commented

“She’s a great success story for other girls to see that you can make the freshman team and move up. You can be a viable member of a varsity squad later.””

— Coach Buskey

Marasco credits her dad as an influential part of her basketball career. Being her coach up until high school, he’s been a beacon of assurance and support from the very beginning. 

“It just gives me a level of comfort when I look up at him in the stands and see him sitting there or after a game when I talk to him because I know that everything is going to be okay” Marasco said. “I can have a bad game and know that he’s always going to be right there to celebrate when I have a good one.”

Committed to basketball, Marasco can be found spending her time in the gym or at practice. Even on the weekends she doesn’t stop as there are often games to play and progress to be made. 

“She’s the hardest worker out there,” said teammate Emma Pollini (21’)  “She’s giving 150% every single play and she is one of the most supportive teammates I’ve ever met.”

Marasco prepares to make a foul shot.

Although the support she receives from her family and team is tremendous, the quote “ain’t no mountain high enough” has pushed Marasco through difficult times. Wanting to be the best version of herself that she can be Marasco is oftentimes hard on her herself. 

“I’ve had to overcome a lot of challenges in this basketball journey and there’s still so many more to overcome” she says.   

Not every single day is a good one though. Some days are off days, some days the game is lost, some days the motivation just isn’t there. Barely ever taking a day off has taught Marasco this and has given her the opportunity to learn how to cope with it. 

“I’m not the person who’s built off of natural talent,” Marasco said. “I have to work twice as hard as everybody else to be just as good as them.”

The long nights, sore muscles, and missed time that could’ve been spent with friends are all hurdles to jump over. Each option stands as a marker allowing her to move toward her goal or remain stagnant. 

“Everybody’s different,” Marasco said. “Some people have an easier path than others, but I’ve accepted that mine is going to be more challenging. I think that’s what has made me appreciate it so much more.”

The gratitude she has for what she does and the hard work she puts in does not go unnoticed. Her joy for the game is overwhelming to the point where her coaches can tell from across the court. 

“Even with a mask on, you see in her eyes that she’s always smiling,” Buskey says. “I just think that is so reflective of her success because doesn’t take things lightly, but she also appreciates everything in the moment.”

Sports goals are not the only thing Marasco reaches for. Having her grades up to her personal standards so that she can make the honor roll each semester has been crucial to her as well. Taking academics seriously has allowed for her to receive opportunities and gain respect. 

“There’s not really a lot of time for fun during the week- or even on the weekends most of the time,” Marasco admits. “But it’s the way it has to be because one day there won’t be basketball anymore, so you have to take advantage of it while it’s still here and while you can still play it.”

The periods spent in the math center making sure certain units were understood and the evenings at SportsZone shooting when no one else was were just stepping stones in achieving the end goal. The day her acceptance letter and scholarship money arrived in the mail it all became evident.

“Committing to college proved how hard work she worked and how everything was paying off,” said Pollini.

Having her moment during Senior Night brought back a lot of memories for Marasco as she remembers being a freshman and watching the varsity girls get their recognition. 

“Wow, that’s so cool. I wonder if I’ll ever be there,” Marasco thought. “I wonder if I’ll ever have the chance to be on varsity and have a Senior Night where my parents will come out on the floor and I’ll be able to feel really special.”

Her high school journey may be coming to a close, but the growth and experience will stick with her throughout college and as she continues to work toward her goals.

“It’s just funny to look back and see how much has changed in the past four years. It was just a magical feeling to sit there with my teammates and be able to take in the whole night,” said Marasco when reflecting on her high school basketball years.

Marasco’s plans for the future consist of attending college to finish basketball and start a career as an FBI analyst. But for now, she’s living in the moment and taking in as much as she can. 

“I’m excited to wrap up my senior season, enjoying these last few games I have with my teammates, and just being at Pinkerton overall.”