First cousins Justin Massielo and Emelie Curtis have always been practically inseparable.
Born only one year apart and growing up in Yardley less than a block away from each other, they (not surprisingly) have shared a common interest since childhood – sports. So when the two enrolled at Pennsbury High School, with Massielo a current senior and Curtis a junior, the young athletes got involved in baseball and lacrosse, respectively.
But this isn’t where the cousins’ similarities end.
Earlier this month, Massielo and Curtis reached impressive milestones in their sports. First, Massielo recorded his 100th career hit as a four-year starter for the Falcon baseball team. Two days later, Curtis, a three-year starter for Pennsbury’s girls lacrosse team, scored four goals in a game against Jenkintown High School, marking 100 career goals.
While Massielo has committed to continue his baseball and academic endeavors at Arcadia University in September, Curtis was recently recruited by Duquesne University, and will begin her collegiate career in the fall of 2020.
On the heels of this accomplishment and in the midst of final exams, The Times caught up with Massielo, who couldn’t have asked for a better end to his time as a Falcon.
“It’s definitely very relieving,” he said of the 100th hit. “I knew it was coming up soon, I just didn’t know when. It was in the back of my mind for a pretty long time, but I didn’t let it affect the way that I played. It was a very happy moment for me.”
For Massielo, it was never a question of whether or not he would join the Falcons when he arrived at Pennsbury. Baseball was simply in his blood.
“I’ve been playing sports since I could walk. My dad, he had a bat in my hand since I was able to hold it,” he said. “My dad played baseball, my mom played softball, so I was always around the sport and I’ve always enjoyed playing it.”
From ages 7-12, Massielo enrolled at Pennsbury’s youth baseball camp, which is taught by Joe Pesci, the team’s head coach. When asked his thoughts on Massielo’s 100th hit, Pesci couldn’t praise the student enough.
“It’s a pretty tough thing to do and really, you have to hit like a superhero or you have to be consistent and get a lot of games. He’s done both for us,” Pesci said. “It’s great, too, because he’s a kid I knew for years throughout elementary and middle school coming to my camps. He stepped in and he started pretty much every game as shortstop for us, which is a tough position when you’re competing against the best kids.”
According to Pesci, during his 10 years coaching the Falcons, he has witnessed only a handful of other freshmen start for the team. He has witnessed even fewer teens reach 100 hits.
“In baseball, it’s a pretty hard feat. The cliche is, if you fail 75 percent of the time, you’re a really good player. You only play 20 games in high school. We had the really long state championship run in 2017 and he had 35 hits,” Pesci said. “He’s been pretty special for us. For his freshman, sophomore and junior years, he led our team in batting average, and that’s a pretty amazing accomplishment. He’s been a captain for two years. He’s a quiet kid but he’s a really good leader because everybody follows his work ethic and his play on the field. He’s the type of kid that you want to have 25 of them on your roster.”
In Pesci’s opinion, what makes Massielo so unmatched is his consistency.
“It’s hard when you have success at such a young age, as a freshman and sophomore, and to continue that. And he’s been able to stay at that level, which has been incredible for our program,” he said.
As Massielo prepares for graduation in June, Pesci expressed how much he’ll be missed by not only the Falcons, but the coach’s son, who gifts him a “Favorite Player Award” every year.
“He’s the epitome of what we preach for our program. He’s just the right type of kid that you need to keep your culture and your program going in the right direction,” Pesci said. “As much as we’re going to miss him, he has really set the bar and I think the kids who have played with him and will be playing after he moves on are going to have that model for years to come.”
Massielo is looking back on his time as a Falcon with nothing but pride, naming the team’s 2017 state championship win as another unforgettable memory.
“That was definitely the highlight of my Pennsbury career, can’t get any higher than that. It was a great run. It was just very fun to be a part of that team,” he said. “It’s fun when you’re winning.”
Though time will tell if Massielo sets out to become a professional player, one thing is for sure – he’ll keep on cheering his cousin as she enters her senior year and continues to shine on the lacrosse field. ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org