Television Sports Career Keeps Ludden Grad in Action

| February 5, 2014
Steve Infanti, WSYR-TV Sports Director

Photo courtesy of 9WSYR

BY CHRISTY PERRY

When the red light on the studio camera flashes, it’s “go time” for WSYR-TV’s Sports Director Steve Infanti. It’s his signal that he’s live, on-air. It’s time to deliver the day’s sports stories to the people of Central New York.

Infanti says he gets that same “go time” feeling when he’s back at his high school alma mater, Bishop Ludden Junior/Senior High School, covering a basketball game for his station. Back in the 1990s, Infanti was a point guard for the Ludden Gaelic Knights.

“I’d go back to Ludden to cover games and the National Anthem would play and I’d get that adrenaline rush just like being an athlete,” Infanti remembered. “Even though I was on the sidelines with a camera, I’d get that rush.”

The 37-year-old father of two has reported and anchored for Syracuse’s News Channel 9 for the past 15 years. A graduate of Ludden and the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, he says he knew, even as a young boy, that he wanted to write and play sports. When he got to high school, he decided exactly what he wanted to do: work in communications, no matter what type.

And he wanted to play basketball. He joined the varsity team in his freshman year. By junior year, he and his teammates made it to the New York State High School Basketball Championship playoffs in Glens Falls, NY. They fell just short of becoming state champs in 1993, losing to Whitney Point. It was a disappointment, Infanti said, but his coach encouraged the team to keep reaching for the prize.

“I remember Coach (Pat) Donnelly, after one practice in particular, talking to the team,” Infanti said. “It was coming off the disappointment of the year before and I remember him telling us that we had the chance to do something special.”

“At 17-years-old, you think of it as doing something special on the basketball court. But I feel like the message that day was more about how we can do something special in our lives and try to be better brothers and sons and fathers.”

In his senior year at Ludden, Infanti and his team did something special on the court as well. They captured the 1994 state championship trophy.

He recalled the big day. “I just remember at Glens Falls, we had a great contingent of fans. I remember it like it was yesterday. Teachers were there, we had nuns in the stands and priests in the stands, classmates, parents, family and friends. It was quite a run.”

Infanti still stays in touch with Donnelly, a ’76 Ludden alumnus who has coached at his alma mater for 26 years and was honored by the New York State Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2013.

“Even though we’ve graduated and gone off to college or the real world, he didn’t forget about us because we don’t play basketball for him anymore. We still have that family-type relationship.”

That family feel was a hallmark of Infanti’s Catholic schooling through the years. Raised by parents whose own parochial schools backgrounds influenced the way they raised him and his sister Lynn, he credits the tight-knit community in which he has been educated with helping him face even the toughest of life’s challenges.

“My parents made a lot of sacrifices for me, sending me and my sister to Catholic school,” he said. “It helped me learn discipline and the importance of rules and helped me academically. And it helped me with my faith.”

His faith was put to the extreme test ten years ago when his mother, who was the librarian at Ludden for 19 years, died after a battle with breast cancer. “She was very young, 55 at the time. I feel like that faith that was instilled in me by my parents, by St. Ann’s, through Bishop Ludden, it helped me get through it. I don’t know if you’re ever over it, but it certainly helped me through it. ”

“She was my biggest fan, along with my dad, and I feel like I owe them a lot for where I am,” Infanti added. “I wouldn’t be here without them.” n

Christy Perry is a freelance writer in Syracuse, NY.

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Category: Catholic Identity, Featured

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