A pair of on-seniors from Bristolâ€™s two public high schools share â€śAthlete of the Weekâ€ť honors for area scholastic sports. They are junior left-midfielder Adalia Malick of Bristol Central girls soccer team and sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Elijah Gagliardo of the Bristol Eastern football team.
Malick, the daughter of Shahid and Vicki Malick, is already a three-time all-conference pick for the Rams and her coach, Ginny Godbout, noted how much of an asset is to the team.
â€śThe left side of the field would definitely not be the same without her,â€ť Godbout said. â€śAdalia had about 12 goals this season and also had about six assists. All of this was done this season while Adalia was injured.
â€śShe had pulled her hamstring early on, but most would not have noticed. She never let on to anyone how hurt she really was. She possesses such heart that there were many times I literally had to drag her off the field. I see big things happening next season in her senior year.â€ť
As for the Ramsâ€™ season, in which it went 8-8-1, Malick believes there were some strong improvements.
â€śI think we had a lot better season than last year,â€ť Malick said. â€śWe stepped up and in the games we needed to. I think our record doesnâ€™t reflect how we played, because there were a few games we should have won and the score didnâ€™t reflect on how we played.â€ť
She added that next year, Central will do well if everyone works hard in both practice and during games.
â€śIf we keep working hard on the off season, we can have a better year next year,â€ť Malick said. â€śPersonally, itâ€™s to be All-State and improve my personal statistics.
â€śI definitely want to play in college. Iâ€™m working hard this offseason to contact colleges and show them how I play. Iâ€™m not sure what Iâ€™ll study yet, I have a couple of ideas but itâ€™s hard to choose.â€ť
In leaving advice for the younger athletes, Malick, who also does the 200 and 400 meters, as well as relays in track for the school, itâ€™s â€śto pretend you arenâ€™t playing with a whole new team and to give your all in every practice and game.â€ť
The choice of Gagliardo, the son of Chris Gagliardo and Lisa Williams, comes after his performance in the annual Thanksgiving Day Game, a 33-27 loss for the Lancers (2-8).
The two-way sophomore received defensive player of the game honors for his team after coming up with an interception and recording seven tackles. He also caught eight passes, which tied a Battle for the Bell record set by Easternâ€™s Rick Schmaltz in 1970, for 90 yards on offense.
Gagliardo also drew the praise of Lancers head coach Anthony Julius after the game.
â€śThe last few teams have schemed to stop [Jaden Laprise] so we needed a guy to be able to step up and answer and [Elijah] was able to do that,â€ť Julius said. â€śFor our receiving core, the future is really bright and something weâ€™re excited about.â€ť
As for the big game as a whole, Gagliardo saw it as a tough matchup for both schools.
â€śIt was back and forth,â€ť Gagliardo said. â€śOur guys fought hard and there was a lot of heart in the game. [Bristol Central quarterback] Dathan [Hickey] was really hard to stop, heâ€™s really a great athlete. There was a lot of emotion and it could have gone either way. Iâ€™m looking forward to next year more than anything.â€ť
As far as his earning the Lancersâ€™ defensive game honors, the sophomore called it a surprise.
â€śI felt really good,â€ť Gagliardo said. â€śItâ€™s cool to know that I made that much of an impact in the game. I knew that I had a good game and I know now that Iâ€™m taking the steps to be a better athlete.â€ť
He added that heâ€™s benefited from playing a sport in high school.
â€śItâ€™s given me a different way to look at life,â€ť Gagliardo said. â€śItâ€™s comparable to situations in life when youâ€™re in a game. Itâ€™s being with a team and working with people.â€ť
And although a sophomore, Gagliardo is already looking towards the future,
â€śIâ€™m really trying to go somewhere with football,â€ť Gagliardo said.
With regard to the next two years, he said that itâ€™s playing above .500 as a team and winning the next two Thanksgiving Day games.