It was impressive enough when local sports star Maria Laterza, who had previously scored a whopping 1,000 career points at Bishop Kearney High School, graduated to join a basketball program as prestigious as the Marist Red Foxes, not to mention receiving a full athletic scholarship in the process.
Laterza, who attended elementary school at St. Athanasius and junior high school at Mark Twain, has managed to outdo herself once again.
This October, Maria, who this blogger is proud to call his first cousin, will begin her professional career with Austrian team UBBC APOsport Herzogenburg.
The news, which Maria just learned about a week ago (she leaves for Austria this week), suddenly had her “running around like a crazy person” taking care of last minute errands and visiting with friends and family – myself included – she probably won’t see again until Christmas.
The 6 foot 3 baller assures any nervous fans that, after playing in New York City summer leagues, she’s both well rested and prepared for the job, which she landed just five months after her last game with Marist.
During her final game against powerhouse Duke in Durham, North Carolina, Maria achieved four points and two rebounds in what amounted to barely ten minutes of play.
Along with an impressive array of skills honed on a variety of surfaces – including asphalt court “the Cage” on West 4th Street in Greenwich Village – in addition to the polished hardwood floors of college arenas, Maria will commence her professional career with a significant height advantage, being the only member of her new team to stand over 6 feet tall.
When Bensonhurst Bean asked Maria what she would miss most about the neighborhood, she alluded to the familiar sights and smells of Bensonhurst that will leave her longing for home.
“Whenever I’m away for awhile, like at college, I miss walking down the block past people’s houses and taking in all the aromas of different home cooking, all the Italian and Chinese food,” Laterza told Bensonhurst Bean. “I miss the atmosphere around Christmas time, when the lights and Christmas tree go up at Saint A’s.”
While none of Maria Laterza’s future teammates on Herzogenburg speak English, the team’s head coach Mike Kress – a graduate of Villanova – is an American. Having played in the NCAA, she’s used to traveling. Being fluent in Italian should also help her to communicate and socialize in new surroundings while abroad.
Being from world-famous Bensonhurst can’t hurt Maria’s overseas prospects either.
By all accounts, Maria C. Laterza seems ready for anything, even the sometimes bland Austrian cuisine. She seemed to take some comfort from the fact that Wiener Schnitzel, the namesake food of Vienna, Austria, is actually a dry veal cutlet.
Here’s hoping they have a Parmigiana version with tomato sauce.