From slopes to the circle, Gabriele a success in any sport
WESTPORT — Katie Gabriele has already accomplished quite a bit in her young athletic career.
The freshman standout at Greens Farms Academy and Westport resident has pitched a no-hitter in softball, helped her team win a New England championship in cross country and, most notably, she recently took first place overall in her age group (14-15) at the 2019 USASA Snowboarding National Championships earlier this month in Copper Mountain, Colo.
It seems she has a positive impact on pretty much all of the sports she competes in.
“It’s all mental for me,” she said after a GFA softball game last week. “When I’m afraid to do something I have to get in a zone and get over myself to just try it.”
Gabriele’s fearless approach to sports has certainly paid off, for herself and for her athletic teams.
Although she has enjoyed playing all of those team sports at GFA (she also plays squash), her first love is snowboarding. Gabriele first started skiing at age 4 then made the transition to snowboarding.
“Both my parents snowboarded and I’ve been snowboarding since I was five, because I wanted to try it, and it just stuck and I kept doing it,” she said.
In the years since, Gabriele has competed in regional and national snowboarding events, culminating in her most recent placement. Gabriele said there are six events in snowboarding at nationals with five counting towards the overall score: Boardercross, Slalom, Giant Slalom, Half Pipe and Slopestyle.
A snowboarder has to do well in all the events, which leads to their overall ranking. Gabriele said she did a new trick in Slopestyle, which is jumps and rails, called a Back 360 and placed sixth in the event, her highest placement in any of the events.
“That’s what won me the overall,” said Gabriele, who trains out of Stratton Mountain in Vermont and competes in the highly competitive Southern Vermont Series. “I was just super excited (to win). I placed third overall a few years ago so it was really great to step it up this year.”
Gabriele’s coach at Stratton Mountain, Dave Redden, said because Slopestyle is so popular among the competitors, a snowboarder gets more points and Gabriele garnered 1,055 points, more than in any of the other events she competed in.
“It was a terrific accomplishment what she did, to win the overall,” said Redden, who has coached Gabriele the past two years. “I’m super proud of her and there were no pushovers at nationals. She fought hard all week. It was a scary decision (the Back 360) but she stuck with it and it was a very cool moment.”
Katie isn’t the only Gabriele to do well at the snowboarding nationals because her younger sister Annie, a seventh grader at Bedford Middle School, took fifth in her age group (12-13) in the Snowboard Breaker division.
Katie Gabriele is playing shortstop and third base and also pitches for the Dragons. During spring training in Florida, she threw a five-inning no-hitter with nine strikeouts against Jensen Beach, Fla.
“Snowboarding’s my favorite but I love softball too,” she said.
Erica Hunt, who is the GFA softball co-head coach along with John Nash, said Gabriele has been a leader in just her first season.
“She really knows the game well and she can teach others the game better and our other players are getting better watching her play,” Hunt said. “She has so many strengths which is why she’s such an important part of our team.”
Hunt also said Gabriele has great strength and flexibility, and most importantly, a great mindset.
“It’s exciting that she’s young and that we have her for a number of years,” Hunt said. “She brings confidence and an energy to the team. We even have older players looking up to her.”
Gabriele has helped the Dragons to a 3-4 record going into Wednesday’s game against St. Luke’s.
In just her first season with the cross country team, Gabriele was 32nd at the 2018 Division III New England Cross Country Championships at Canterbury in New Milford with a time of 22:41. She bettered her previous best time on the same course by three minutes and three seconds and her time, as the No. 5 runner, helped put GFA over the top.
As for Gabriele’s future in snowboarding, she said the Olympics or X Games would be the ultimate goal but she’d also like to join a Revolution Tour, which is a high level series.
No matter what lies ahead for her in snowboarding, Gabriele is committed to GFA and continuing to bring her teams to new heights.
“I love GFA,” she said. “I love my classes and the people. It’s just a really great school.”