The COVID-19 pandemic almost became an obstacle to Sarah Congelosi’s ability to get recruited to play collegiate softball.
It cost the Valley Central infielder her junior season making collegiate coaches unable to come to her games to see her play.
“I had many opportunities taken away from me,” Congelosi said. “I had so many coaches from different schools ready to come to my games and just ready to tell them the times. And then that was ripped away from me. It was very tough.”
Then over the summer when things started to open, Congelosi attended a showcase in Saugerties with few expectations, but that’s where she met Buffalo State coach Jamie Brown.
“I immediately fell in love with her,” Congelosi said. “She was so sweet. She was so nice to me and not like any other coach I had met before.”
Brown, who has amassed over 300 wins in her career, is entering her fourth season as the Bengals’ coach. Her third was postponed due to the pandemic.
Congelosi decided to visit the campus when it opened.
“It was a really nice campus,” Congelosi said. “I met some of the girls. It just felt right so I knew I had to go there.”
Congelosi was taken by how welcoming Brown was and said Brown has a different coaching method than others she’s had in the past.
Congelosi said Brown had her team working with the football strength and conditioning coach, and when she found that wasn’t what the softball players needed, she created her own program, and creates a plan based on the needs of her players.
Valley Central softball coach Katie Farrugia said she was looking forward to having Congelosi’s bat in the lineup last spring and is looking forward to it this spring.
As a sophomore, Congelosi had the team’s second highest batting average and the most RBIs.
“If somebody was on base, you always wanted to have her coming up,” Farrugia said. “She’s a hard worker and committed to her teammates, her coaches and the game.”
Congelosi came up to the varsity as a sophomore second baseman, but already having a second baseman, Farrugia moved her to third base.
“I saw how dedicated she was,” Farrugia said. “She always has a positive attitude about everything. She’s always smiling and prepared.”
Despite the lost season, Congelosi doesn’t feel as though she lost much time due to the pandemic. As soon as the gyms opened back up, she got her strength and conditioning.
Even during lockdown, she would go to the field with her father and her Montgomery Devils travel coach. Montgomery Devils play picked up in the summer as well, giving her and her teammates a chance to play competitively.
“It felt so good,” Congelosi said. “Softball’s always been a part of my life so to lose it for that fraction of a time really was hard. To get to touch the ball again and play competitively, it was really nice, and a good change from everything else happening in this world.”
As of right now, the spring 2021 season is still on, even though it’s going to start April 19, instead of in March, but that will give Congelosi one last chance to play with her teammates at Valley Central.
“Being able to play school softball one last time is obviously amazing and I’m thankful for it,” Congelosi said. “But to be able to play with those girls one last time is something the seniors last year didn’t get to have and I’m really thankful that I get to have it.”