Fama sidelined, but still a big part of the St. Mary’s team

As far as team dinners go, it was pretty spectacular. As a team-building event, Monday?s supper for the St. Mary?s boys? basketball team at the Fama house in Lynnfield served notice that they are as tight as can be, ready to play as one heading into Tuesday?s game with undefeated Hamilton-Wenham (21-0).St. Mary?s (16-5) has been rallying around junior Joey Fama since he suffered a horrific leg injury on Dec. 26, breaking his fibula and tibia against Lynn English. Fama was in bed or on the couch for weeks, finally going back to school on Feb. 23. The pain of sitting on the sidelines is worse than the pain that came from his broken right leg, the 17-year old Fama said.?It?s been hard,” he said. “The guys have been great. They got shirts with my number (11) on it. Then they got team shirts with my number when we won the (Catholic Central League).?They?ve all been fantastic.”Spartans coach Dave Brown said it was tough to lose Fama, who was averaging 11 points and nine rebounds a game before he was injured.?Joe said he desperately wanted to be out there playing after he got hurt,” Brown said. “I told him and the guys you have to seize every opportunity to play, play your hardest when you get the chance, because you never know when it?s going to be taken away from you. You have to respect yourself, respect the game and give it your all every time you?re out there.”In some ways, Fama?s injury has made the team even closer.?If there?s one thing that this has shown the team, is that we?re 15 brothers on this team. We?re a family,”Brown said. “When Joe went down with his injury, they lost a brother on the court. But they made sure that he still felt like he was part of the team.”Ironically, that family element became even more obvious after the injury.When Fama went down, it opened up a spot on the roster. His younger brother, Steven Fama, who had been splitting time between the varsity and JV teams, got an opportunity for more playing time.?I told him to take advantage of it,” Joey Fama said.The team made several trips as a group, everyone on the team, while Fama was in the hospital. Brown dropped off several books on basketball to help Fama pass the time before he could head home.?It was tough when I left the hospital,” Fama said. “I couldn?t do anything myself. I couldn?t get a glass of water. I had to spend a long time on the couch, because I couldn?t get anywhere.”With a plastic boot that comes up just below the knee, Fama said he?s going to do everything he can to get back on the court. He also hopes to be on the field for the Spartans? football team this fall as well.
?I hope to start walking on my own soon,” he said. “Ditch the crutches, start walking, get in shape, put back some of the weight I lost.” Fama has been able to get to five games since the injury, saw the other games on Skype and has been lobbying Brown to let him coach the team. His coaching mandate would be very simple.?I?d tell everybody to get the ball to Dennis,” Fama said, in reference to teammate Dennis Bailer, who scored his 1,000th career point last month in a win over Billerica.The Spartans will take on the Generals at 7 p.m. in Woburn in the Division 4 North semifinals Tuesday night, and Fama said he?s picked up some things while he?s been sidelined. The winner will play for the title Friday night.
“Some teams have underestimated us and they?ve paid for it,” Fama said. “My team will be ready Tuesday night. You can?t go to sleep against us or you?ll lose.”Scot Cooper can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @bscooper60.

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